There are many things that set me off, and this particular sentence is one of them-

The sentence I’m talking about is when people say, “Well, my mother did it, so you can do it too and you shouldn’t complain about it.” Two things here:

  1. “Did it” is referring to anything in relation to raising a family, such as cleaning the house, making a meal on time, dealing with tantrums, and so on.
  2.  When people say mothers “complain,” they most often are NOT. They are simply stating, from time to time, how difficult their life is and they are ALLOWED to do that because they rarely do, YET the rare times they do, why is it labelled as complaining? Furthermore, mothers expressing how tired or overloaded they are is a way to ask for help to the person they are so called complaining to, or women are simply wanting to have someone to listen to them and have someone empathize- which again, IS TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE, so please don’t make us feel guilty for doing that.

What some people fail to realize is that society has changed, and our communities in which we raise our children are no longer what they used to be.

I was born and raised in Canada and remember playing outside with my siblings all summer long- we would ride our bikes around the block, walk to the park by ourselves and play for hours, and even walk or bike to the community convenience store to buy sugary goodies by ourselves (a good 10 minute walk from our home).

In the winter, we would build snowmen in our front yards and play with the neighborhood kids in the snow. Meanwhile, our mothers had ample time for cooking, washing all the dishes (in fact, I don’t remember our kitchen sink ever overflowing with dirty dishes), cleaning, and even fitting in a lengthy phone call with their friends because we were not annoying them and happily out of their way enjoying the outdoors year-round!

In Pakistan (where my parents are from), most families would live in a joint family system where the mother in law would watch over the children while the mother would carry out the household chores and cooking. If there was more than one daughter in law living in the home, even better- the housework got done faster (in most cases, if both daughter in laws were cooperative that is). In addition, it was quite common for the families to hire nannies and cleaners if they had a good income coming into the home (still the case today).

Furthermore, back home there was a village watching over your children where everybody knew everybody- If your children were playing outside and got hurt, chances were that someone nearby would notice and come get you to inform you. In other words, the entire community was watching over your children back home, which is amazing!

Now, let’s talk about the mothers living in the west today:

Most of us don’t have that community surrounding us like our mothers and grandmothers did back home, most of us can’t afford to hire daily help, and most of us don’t live in a joint family system. We also can’t just let our children play outside by themselves anymore, as times are such that we fear for the safety of our children. 

Instead, we are mostly raising our family on our own; we are expected to “get it all done” and make it seem like it’s easy when it’s not. The truth is, it can get overwhelming and it can get lonely, especially without the support of family, neighbors, and the community. Anyone making the comparison to how their or how our mothers “did it” should not be making that comparison because it’s simply not a fair comparison at all.

One last (important) note:

We cannot assume that just because our mothers made it seem like it was easy raising us, that it actually was. I know many women who struggled to raise their families, they just never spoke up about it. ALL mothers of ALL generations faced some type of challenge or challenges while mothering, no one woman had it completely easy. The difference between mothers of yesterday and today is that nowadays women are speaking up and bringing awareness of the struggles that we face, such as depression, whereas our mothers were silent.

Let’s not bring mothers down by downplaying their struggles. Instead, let’s hear them out and give them the support they deserve.

13 comments on “Don’t Compare Me To Your Mother”

  1. Being the elder daughter and elder daughter in law….i have faced many issues in the both the houses….Allhumdulliah….i have learnt to grow from that…this is beautiful article….life is same here in India too…as you have written back in Pakistan…

  2. Loved your perspective and you are fully within your rights to not want to be compared to anyone’s mother.

    I grew up in a “nuclear family” in the U.S.A. and currently live in a multi-family house in Pakistan. It’s been quite an adjustment to have so many “roommates”!

    However, I have to argue your point that more hands makes faster work. When I ran my own (large) house with three kids, it was spotless. Coming here, the house is always a dirty wreck! Somehow there is never enough time in the day for the other ladies to keep up or clean up after themselves and their kids. I have to wonder if they are prioritizing the wrong things and should spend more time keeping house! Sanitary standards are just not the same here compared to western countries, so everyone “gets away” with doing less and are not chastised for it.

    Also, with some many adults around I’ve seen it happen quite often that children go completely unattended for stretches because one parent incorrectly assumes that “someone else” is watching them. The children in this house have ended up in some very dangerous situations. Other children we know have even *died* from this chronic inattention. When it comes to children and their safety it’s important to be vigilant. I sincerely and strongly believe that young children should be minded by fully mindful *adults* only (not older siblings, cousins, etc.) ever – nevermind neighbors or strangers.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that children you knew have passed away by being unsupervised, this is exactly my fear for my own children and why I can’t let them play outside by themselves. Mashallah, I think it’s wonderful that you were able to keep a clean house on your own sis, I definitely couldn’t with 3 young children and now it’s worse with four children. Everybody’s situation is totally different, and I shared mine because I know that many other women go through the exact same thing as me. My mom’s sister used to live with us,so there were 9 children in the house and two women- mashallah my mom’s house was spotless and we all got fed on time and put to bed with every of our need met! Even when my sister comes over for a visit with her young son, my house is cleaner because I watch the kids while she cleans or vice versa 😉 It really depends on who you live with and like you said, the person’s priorities. Also, as you stated, cleaning standards are less back home, so there may not be that pressure to clean like there is here in the west- that’s ANOTHER difference and another reason to NOT compare mothers with each other 🙂

  3. I’m always of the opinion that it’s never a good idea to compare any two people as the situations they’re in, is always different. Besides having house help, our mothers have still struggled and we in the West are also working day and night to ensure our kids get the best!

  4. I have not experienced being compared to my mother or mother in law tbh. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing? Anyhow, you are right that times have changed and we now live in a society which lacks community closeness. I find this a shame. After all, They say it takes a village to raise a child. #MuslimahBloggers

    • I’m happy to hear you haven’t experienced this, it’s quite annoying… It literally does take a village to raise children, and without this village things can get really difficult!

  5. Completely agree with this post, although I haven’t specifically been compared to my MIL….I have had to hear how women back home have more kids than me and they don’t get stressed. But they have a massive support system. Here I am almost like a single mum as hubby is always at work!

    • I hear you sis! My husband works 7 days a week, so I’m pretty much parenting on my own- it really can be difficult sometimes! Having that support system really does help!

  6. Yeah. I say nowadays mother’s are speaking up that’s why. Also like you stated times have changed, you can’t trust your children with just anyone. It does get overwhelming wallah. May Allah make it easy for us and make it a blessing for us. Ameen

  7. Truly accommodating writing and such nice warmth hearted comments.

    I my self is a mother with one daughter, and my husband is always busy, doing his duty as da’i. And to be honest, living with one, two, three, and even four kids at home definitely have it’s own way to manage, and of course, each one of us, have our own strategy to go through the day. I really think that woman with a lot of kids is the greatest inspiration and a reflection of power house woman. No matter what they have living in with parents, or having a helping system at home. Still… you are all my inspiration. Because being a mother, parenting stuff and all is a noble profession.

    I really hope we could be the inspiration and the educator for our kids.. in Syaa Allah.

    thanks you sisters…

    • Thank you so much for reading and leaving such a kind and sweet comment sister, I sincerely appreciate it! Parenting is a tough job and we should never feel as if we are not doing a good enough job when we truly are. Every mother strives to do her best and she will be rewarded for her every effort <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *