The ‘perfect housewife’ stereotype has long been a staple of Lebanese culture where stay-at-home moms are expected to have no less than the full-package. NDU photography student Maria Chehwan set out to dig deeper than domesticity and find out what drives Lebanese women beneath the surface. What are their dreams, personal aspirations and worst nightmares?

("... I stood there watching the sea taking all that I have ..." -Nora)

To find out, Chehwan gathered a sample of stay-at-home mothers and asked them to produce sketches of one of their recurrent dreams or nightmares which she used as inspiration for her photos. She also captioned each photo with a quote that would capture the essence of each dream.

Chehwan's endeavor culminated in her senior photography project titled, ‘Stay-At-Home Dreams’.

“I interviewed over 30 women and ended up sorting out 14 sketches. These sketches were later on reproduced through my photo sessions,” Chehwan explained.

("... Shopping all day to return each time with the mismatching pair of shoes..." - Rachelle)

Chehwan told she sought to find a balance between staying true to the authenticity of the dreams represented in the sketches she gathered while maintaining her individual artistry and vision as a photographer.

“Recreating some of their recurrent surreal nightmares was a challenge. For instance, one of the moms dreamt of pulling her dead father’s coffin from the sea, and putting that thought into a photograph was difficult,” she said.

(..."Leaving my dad at the shelter still hunts me, that nursing nun keep reappearing in my dreams..." - Viola)

Chehwan believes the Lebanese housewives she interviewed are reluctant to truly take in what actually happens in their recurrent night dreams. “Many gave me similar answers and denied the fact that they ever dreamed in the first place,”Chehwan told

“This intrigued me because it obviously meant they didn’t want to talk about it fearing that this [would] ruin their image.”

("... Suddenly it all turned black, trapped in a cage and hunted by bats..." - Laure)

Chehwan plans to expand on her project in the future by launching her own photography website, hoping this experience was a helpful outlet for self-expression for all the participants.

“I’m actually hoping some of the moms out there [reading this] will be encouraged to participate in this ongoing series, and also embrace it as a healing process,” she explained.

("... Im wearing the white dress again, I'm walking towards the alter, but something is different, this is not my husband..." - Amal)

All images provided by Maria Chehwan.

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