In the Heart of a Homemaker

In the Heart of a Homemaker
In the Heart of a Homemaker

I watch my fingers as they struggle to type, words lingering at their tips, unable to arrange themselves in an interesting sentence because they just don’t flow as easily as they used to. I begin to reflect on the evolution of my hands and the things they contained, touched, created and dealt with over the past few years. From books, poetry and coffee; to writing messages of love, caressing, preparing meticulous meals, carefully applying makeup, adjusting my earrings. To writing down my confused, depressed thoughts, to cupping them on my face as tears flowed in them and I prayed for direction. To drafting legal contracts  and typing out legal advice. To writing and editing articles and chopping onions for curry. To taking pills for various illnesses and having IV needles inserted into them. To taking off my rings as my fingers swelled. To holding my baby for the first time. To mixing bottles of milk and checking to make sure the temperature is right. To washing dishes, cracking eggs for breakfast, laying plates, peeling apples and boiling oats for baby lunch. To hurriedly getting dressed and fixing my hair before the bell rings. To flipping through Youtube aimlessly on a boring weekend. To making a cup of tea that fixes everything. To doing the bed and rocking my baby to sleep. To applying ointment to an aching neck or foot. To switching off the bed light, hoping for a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Under the layers of responsibility, of duties, of diapers, dishes, dressing up, doctor’s visits, expectations and arguments, underneath it all; in the heart and mind of a mother, of a wife, of a home-maker – is a young girl with unfinished dreams of her youth: studying in her dream university, cycling in the sun, laughing in the rain and getting drenched in the sea, pursuing the career everyone had always told her she would excel in, hearing words of deep love and affection, travelling the world, being surprised to tears, having a timeless conversation, taking in a breathtaking view, catching her loved one lost looking at her.

In millions of homes around the world at this very moment, there is a woman who’s probably setting the table for dinner or feeding her baby or packing a lunchbox; who, with the end of every day, buries the young girl she was in her heart. The young girl she was who watches her everyday as she gives, sacrifices, puts up, puts aside, settles, gives up and gives in. Gives every single second of her time and every single ounce of her health. Sacrifices her ambitions, interests and brilliance to routine. Puts up with what she never expected and never thought she had the strength to. Puts aside everything that happened, wipes her tears and forgets. Settles for whatever life’s brought her way. Gives up hope of seeing any change. And eventually, gives in to a life very different from the one she’d dreamed of.

Not all of this is my story. This is a collective story of the daily and eventual life of almost every single woman who is putting her husband and child(ren) first. A collection of the fragments of pain and longing that I come across in the eyes of and conversations I’ve had with so many women who are about to break, or have broken and become numb. Or are relentlessly struggling to make it work, and make it beautiful. This is the story of your mother, my mother, your sister, my sister, your close friend, my neighbor, you, me. You know it is.

Those who’ve passed it say it is a phase and that it will end. But isn’t the ending almost always the same: a woman with a battered body or/and soul, who doesn’t even remember what she was like before?

We’re happy, of course we are, and we love our families. But that does not mean we are not sad. That we do not tear up thinking of what we could have been doing or would have become by now… if we had put ourselves first.

NOTE: Your maturity will reflect in your understanding of this article and its message. Please do not flood me with comments of how to be grateful and look at the good times because if you think this is complaining, you are still too immature to understand.

30 thoughts on “In the Heart of a Homemaker

  1. Yes, you’re writing about me and my daughter and my mother and my friends! It brought tears of sadness and of relief. Thank you for such a beautiful, deep article.

  2. People put in a lot into a marriage, and with every increase in its difficulties and concurrently, your sacrifices, the alternatives always shine brighter. But strangely enough, I haven’t let go of that kid. Almost as if that child’s hopes and dreams aren’t meant to be competitive, but somehow complementary. I daresay don’t kill off that child with those hopes and dreams. That child I keep inside me and close to me, is the only thing that reminds me of who I’m supposed to be. And that person one day… impossible as it seems today… inshaAllah I will be.

  3. Wow. This is So beautifully penned down… :’)
    i have so many questions and so many answers at the same time…..

  4. Very well written,the trick being to take some time out and go back to me time,easier said then done

  5. Ma sha Allah ❤ very beautifully and deeply written, kept me pondering for a while 🙂

  6. Beautiful! This is the first article I am reading of yours, and I must say this is simply beautiful! Masha Allah! Thank you for giving words to so many endless feelings women go through and yet will never find words to express them! 🙂

  7. Ma sha allah!
    This really brought tears to my eyes.
    I may not be married yet, but I can perfectly understand this, because I too have seen it in the eyes of the women that I have interacted with.
    Those women, who kept aside their dreams, aspirations and needs and wants to their family. In most of their eyes, I see the flames of their dreams, put out and in some, them burning down, the sparkle eventually gone.

    And this exactly is what scares me to enter into that phase of life that is apparently, the most beautiful, in a girl’s life.

    Beautifully written. :’)

  8. Oh boy… Where do I start..
    U really push away any open dialogue in your footnote when you claim any criticism would show immaturity and lack of understanding in the reader.

    But I’ll bite 😉
    I am a pakistani American girl married into an extremely traditional northern pakistani family. They are completely dfferent from my laid back moderate muslim pakistani parents. I have a 4 year old marriage and a 1.5 year old son. I stay at home and take care of my son, home, husband and more often than not, his entire family. So I feel like I can relate- on some level.

    My issues begins with the question- what “unfullfilled dreams” qualify as privileges, as neccesities, as rights of passages into womanhood denied to you.
    How long does youth stretch out to? I have 30 yr old female friends who are still finding themselves.

    When did sacrifice=sadness?

    How do you know, in your heart of hearts, that you could have been more?
    No offense, I am asking honestly because I myself didn’t want to work, yup I said the taboo, I felt like being home.
    Why is anything else more than
    motherhood? Wifehood? Homemaker? Why isn’t this the most glorious, gratifying, beautiful position/status on earth?
    Why is it simply not okay anymore to have SELFISHLY chosen wife and mother? Shoot, I know I did. For myself.

    And finally why not NOW? Maybe you are being vague but who’s stopping you now besides your own mind?

    I grew up with a mother who was a homemaker, and despite all the cooking and cleaning she did- she always complained about things that could have been- but she had (still has) the MOST loving supportive husband in my father. He would have helped and encouraged her to do anything she pleased. So many excuses for what she couldn’t do.
    More than romanticising marriage- our desi women tend to romanticize the “woman’s plight”. News flash- too many tools, sources and venues exist for first world women to change their circumstance. Too many books like “the brick lane” have been published, too many articles about confinement- it’s been tried, tired, and done.
    Lets change our attitude as women.

    “Verily, Allah will not change the condition of the people, until they change what’s in themselves.” (Ar-Ra’d 13:11)

    1. Salamualaykum Gul,

      Appreciate your comment. I expected the article could be understood in precisely the way you see it, because of which I really was forced to write that note. I’m not saying you’re immature – the note was more for people who aren’t at this stage yet, but nevertheless you still seem to have not got the message intended. So I’ll elaborate.

      Guess what, I too am an Indian married into a very traditional household that isn’t close to the background I come from. I too have been married four years and have a 7-month old. I too gave in my resignation at my law firm as soon as I got pregnant, because I too did, and continue to consider motherhood as a profession and position of influence like no other in this world. My mother too is and has been a housewife from the age of 15 and a half: and there is no soul on this earth I admire, respect and wish to emulate more than her. Despite all her responsibilities and obstacles, last month, my mother finished memorizing the Qur’an at home by herself, a dream she embarked on 9 years ago, MashaAllah.

      So am I saying that being a homemaker is limiting me? No. I still volunteer my skills for causes I am interested in, I still work for my firm from home. So what am I “complaining” about? Precisely why I said, “if you think this is complaining, you are still too immature to understand.”

      This post is not a sob story of how shackled we feel as women and mothers and wives and how everybody is stopping us from ‘privileges’ they enjoy for themselves – not at all. Neither are we “blaming” anyone for a choice we ourselves have made and there still really is nothing that motivates us to give up what we know is the greatest job any man or woman can ever do. However, there are moments, just like those anybody on any path they’ve chosen which is quite burdensome has, that we too tend to think of what “else” we could have been doing – not what “better” things we could’ve been doing. Other things where the pressure and stress is a little lesser and the rewards quicker. Where you could leave when you wanted, just by handing in a resignation.

      When I said “of course we are happy and we love our families” – I didn’t write it just to appeal to the critics as well. I wrote it because it’s the truth. Just as the truth also is that our job is pretty much the toughest in the world – and its hardships will make us sad. It is in these sad moments that we think of easier things we could’ve done – and this reminiscing of the ambitions and dreams of our youth does not mean regret nor wallowing in the past, but remembering things that were important to us that we have given up for something greater. Why reminisce when you know what you’re doing is far more noble then? Because we’re human, and when hardships bring us to breaking point, we hurt and things aren’t as clear as they are when we’re happy.

      It’s easy to say many women have the support but make up excuses – I’ve learnt from being married myself for the past 4 years that I don’t even have the right to judge my own parents’ choices and what they did not choose to do even though I think I know them inside out, because I’ve learnt that ONLY the people going through any experience truly know: the choices that were available to them and the consequences of each of those choices, in their particular circumstances, at that particular time.

      I have no right to deny my mum the right to wonder what she could have been doing if she was not married at 15 and a half, or how much faster she would have finished her memorization if she didn’t have to tend to her last kid and her older daughters in their pregnancies, even though she chose her priorities herself. Mothers and women like us have personal dreams and ambitions of their own and always will, just like any other person on this planet. People forget they do, and some actually think they shouldn’t to the extent that they consider it unnatural for a mother/wife to have any interests of her own. My post aims to correct that thinking and assure other mothers like me that they’re not alone, and that they have every right to continue having dreams of their own, regardless of when they choose to give priority to them.

      1. I’m just glad to see someone addressing these issues which are shunned and tabooed in most marriages. A tearful read I must say. God bless.

  9. From someone who knows you and your capabilities from pre-marriage time, I refuse to believe that you will not live up to what you were meant to be zayn. There is too much fire in you, too much passion, too much talent for it to dwindle away due to these shades that we all rest upon as the journey of life progresses.

    Yes, indeed, this is a phase but it is a very. difficult. phase. I often get terrified of it and applaud every woman who has th courage to put her family’s needs above her own. I call it courage cuz indeed courage it is… To sacrifice, albeit momentarily, what you know you would excel in to fulfill responsibilities which again, no one would be able to do other than you.. A daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother and so much more.

    And yet, the mere fact that you are here writing, reminiscing, reliving, imagining, yearning and wishing… I have full confidence that you will once again rise like the Phoenix that takes it’s strength from it’s ambiguity once upon a time.

    But the beautiful thing will be..when you ultimately reach that zenith bi idhni Allah, it will be with so many added colors and relationships to your life, that will make life and it’s achievements worth it. For just like your mother, insha Allah, you won’t be alone in that achievement. Rather, you will have child(ren), husband, mum n dad, siblings, nephews and nieces, and so many more cheering you on, all the way, because they will know that your journey was a means of shade and protection for them at such crucial junctures of their life. And the victory will be all the more beautiful for it.

    Not because you HAD to give up a certain portion of your life, your dreams, and aspirations for them. But because you had a CHOICE and chose THEM, at a time when you could have chosen yourself. And in the process, you chose to become a woman we are all proud of.

    Much respect to you, and every mother, sister, friend who doesn’t let the light inside her die, and yet burns on in the middle of the night, to show the way to those who would be lost without her. ❤

    1. Firstly, sorry for the very late reply Anam, as I rarely use my PC now and just check mail, etc via my phone.

      Jazakillah khayr for expressing your confidence and love, it goes a very long way to keep mums running and pull them up on days they’re low. I hope in sha Allah, that I am able to look back at my life many years later and never regret my priorities and that I find myself having done my best. And that I actually age as gracefully as all the great mothers I know have, with the light of patience and sacrifice always emanating.

      Keep me in your prayers always. ❤

  10. Wow, mashaAllah. Very well said (the post and detailed reply 🙂 Teary-eyed and your words really help with acknowledgement which in turn helps with submitting to your own reality. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Assalamualaikum Sister,

    Discovered you through an article you wrote about Sister Sharifah Mastura Al Jifri … that was really enlightening and motivating … AlhamduLiLLAH … I am doing my Post-Graduate study now … at a very very very late age … but I am happy … almost half of my life was to help support the family … as a daughter and the oldest child of a very large family … married late (no pressure for us here like our sisters from the northern continent) … now I have more time to work with those that I really want to work with … and I feel the age falling off me as I grow older 🙂 … May Allah ‘Azza wa Jal bless and guide our every step … ameen.

  12. Beautiful. This piece touched my heart because I know exactly what you’re saying. We love our husbands and our children…they are our world. But we give up a large part of ourselves for the sake of creating a beautiful family. And sometimes its ok to look back and reflect on the younger girl inside of us, full of ambitions. However I must add a positive to this – let that reflection be a motivation to let that little girl still live. Maybe not to the extent she wanted to but at least something small, starting with baby steps. For example, my desire to help the community as a counsellor cannot be achieved since I was unable to pursue my Masters but I can try to help in other ways such as prepare kits for abused women, etc. Nevertheless beautiful article.

  13. Gul,

    Kuddos for expressing a fact/reality; which we are often encouraged in a silent way, to dare not spill out loud.

  14. Thank you for this article so full of empathy for all the women like us.

    There is no ‘going back’ to the times that used to be. It is only towards a newer, different life for moms and wives. I have two children who are now in school and it is still hard to have those ‘unfulfilled dreams’ unfold. You still have to do those duties you did when your kids were babes, and the 6 or so free hours when they are in school can wile away.

    Can so empathise, but cannot change except within this new, evolving life. There is no going back.

  15. Assalamoalikum sister
    I just came across ur blog through one of ur writings via productivemuslim for which u write i guess. And this heart of a homemaker just took me aback n appalled me so much that i cudnt help appreciating u by writing back to u sister, though quite late for this post .But cudnt be put better explaining a married woman’s heart being poured out.
    Jazakallah Khair dear. From Pakistan

  16. Assalamu alaikum sister Zainab….
    Jst came across ur blog…. masha Allah. .well written, very touching articles. .
    Keep writing. .. May Allah almighty bless u & ur family with d best here & hereaftr. …

  17. MashaALLAH so relateable,the number of things on my personal to do list that I haven’t been able to get to just yet! Made excuses for my first kid but trying to change the pace the second time hear lot About making time when the kids are asleep and what not. But most often all that advice is from people living in nuclear families. How do women living with inlaws,tied down by social obligations manage their time?

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