Alternatives that Are Not “Enough”
It’s not that Anis feels that these jobs are beneath her. She does earn a fluctuating income through blogging and affiliate sales of Islamic products.
She is also in the midst of setting up a preschool in her area, also through a franchise program.
Needless to say, she has her hands full with four children accompanying her everywhere.
But her mother-in-law doesn’t understand that being a mother alone is enough of a job already, without the extra work that is not obligatory upon a woman in Islam.
In fact, all three mothers started some venture right from their homes and do not lounge around the entire day demanding for their needs to be fulfilled.
“I sympathize with my husband,” says Hajar. “It’s not easy to survive on a single income in a growing household, and he works hard to provide for us, but sometimes it falls short.”
“Alhamdulillah, bookkeeping for small enterprises keeps the income rolling in for us.”
On whether or not her in-laws understand this, she says:
My husband has tried to explain that I still have an income. On one hand, I sometimes feel relieved that he is standing up for me, but on the other hand, I don’t think I should have to explain my choices.
“But it’s not like they understand. As far as they are concerned, I am still a free rider.”
Leena considered going back to work too, especially when times got hard.
But she knew that it was only through the mercy of Allah that she and her husband were able to work through difficult financial patches so that her children could still have her at home.
“I loved my job and my career. I was great at it, alhamdulillah.“
“When I tendered my resignation, my employer offered to triple my salary because I carried so much weight in the office.“
“I went beyond the call of my job description and helped a lot in the office in matters that were even over and above my scope. I had made a name for myself.”
“But I felt that I had something more important to do—I had to take care of my children. Even if it turned me into a nobody.”
It is such a pity for mothers like these to be sidelined by their families.
While they acknowledge that their husbands have to sacrifice more with their wives staying home, their own sacrifices (of being financially stable themselves) and letting go of many of their own personal needs go completely unacknowledged.
All three of them—and others in their own circle of friends—wonder if this is even normal.
The Dutiful Daughter or Daughter-in-Law Fallacy
There is always so much hype about Muslim women seemingly being oppressed by staying at home. These women—mothers—tell a different story.
While all of them were successful graduates and professionals, they felt their calling was more meaningful in their own homes.
Even with work opportunities from home, they were still considered “useless,” “did nothing,” or were simply “living off the fat of the land.”
Staying at home brings on an internal struggle for many women.
Especially for those who were brought up to believe that their self-worth lay in their salary slips or the cars they were able to afford.
And there are those who are brave enough to take a stand against their own culture of leaving the home and carrying their own “weight.”
All three do feel disappointed in the lack of support from those around them but they do find solace in supportive husbands and like-minded mothers who chart out paths from the corporate world to the nucleus of their own home.
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