Thanks to my pregnancy and Hindi serials, I delayed the urge to get back to a full-time job, because I did not want to faint or puke in an office. A few months later, my daughter’s smile and innocence made me want to be there for her at all times. I wanted to stay by her side and support her physically, mentally and emotionally. I wanted to raise my child to be a loving, respectful, happy, social and well-balanced person. Slowly, I got to know that my status would now be an SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom) and I loved it.
I had NEVER, in my wildest of dreams, thought that I would leave my job and sit at home though one of my palm-reading friends told me that I would, several months before I actually did. I did not leave my job to do the dishes though some feel it is my ‘duty’. Neither did I leave my career to clean the house. Initially, I took a break because I had shifted base and I needed time before I joined the corporate world in a new place. And then, I decided to quit working full-time because I felt that my daughter needed me around, not to be at her beck and call but to see that her basic requirements have been met.
As time flew by, I hated that this ‘designation’ of mine was not an option in many places and I had to mention that I was a housewife (a.k.a. homemaker – as per the new terminology), which bugged me to the core of my being. With great disdain, I would select the only option available. But then, what is a housewife/homemaker? According to Wikipedia, a housewife refers to a married woman, whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework. It is the traditional division of labour between the husband as breadwinner and the wife as housewife. And a homemaker, according to Wikipedia, is a person, especially a woman, who manages a home. So, if you come to think of it, we are all housewives, so how does it matter if we are working in an office or not?
I was surprised to know that, this term was first used in the 1960s, in western countries, where it was becoming more accepted for a woman to work until she got married, and quit her job once she tied the knot. Nevertheless, I suddenly started to feel like a robot because I was not only solely responsible to change diapers, wake up every two hours at night to feed or check if the baby is alright, bathe the kids, feed the kids, clean up after their mess, wake up early morning and get the kids ready, drop the kids to school, pick them up once they are done at different times, keep them busy at home, take them for other classes, pick them in an hour, check on their homework, put them to sleep, sit with them and explain why certain things are done in a certain way or not done at all, wash their tiny clothes, etc. but I was also expected to wash the dishes, decide what had to be cooked, cut the meat and vegetables, cook a good meal, serve the meal, do the laundry, keep the house clean, make sure each nook and corner was dusted, coordinate with the plumber, electrician, carpenter and internet provider, make sure all the bills were paid on time, make sure all the ingredient bottles were not empty, buy the necessary groceries, and the list never ends.
Whether you are a full-time mother or an SAHM and, God forbid, you got lazy to bathe the kids one day or kept leftovers for lunch because you wanted a break and went to read a book at a coffee shop, you are either harshly taunted at what a bad mother you are or callously tagged as an inefficient individual, too. Sometimes, some husbands have the audacity to body shame us too. Now, tell me that this is not true with most of us! And then, after all this, isn’t one bitter word or action from someone, you expect to understand you, enough to make you feel that this unpaid full-time job is not worth it at all?
First of all, why are we allowing people to dictate what we are supposed to do and how we are supposed to handle our homes? Does a woman, who goes outside the house to work full-time, spared the household chores when she gets back home? Isn’t she also expected to fulfil the duties of an SAHM and a housewife while the full-time working man gets to stretch his legs and relax after a ‘tiring day at work’? And, isn’t an SAHM’s job a full-time job in itself? Is it not hard labour just like the breadwinner man of the family, barring that one gets paid and the other does not or one gets weekends off while the other does not? And what about men who work from home? Aren’t they capable of sharing the household chores like perhaps doing the laundry or cooking? Why are women treated like robots and expected to do or take care of every household chore as well as look after the children without a break? Why are household chores gender specific?
I think we should ponder on these questions and decide whether we want our daughters to become future robots too. Maybe we should teach them how to outsource their work and concentrate on the things they want to make a difference in. We should probably be teaching our sons to be independent too. We should inculcate into their minds that managing a home is a team effort rather than a ‘woman’s job’. We should be teaching our sons to be appreciative and respectful of woman in general. Let’s start with delegating work to our children so that they know that household chores are not to be done only by the women of the house unless we want to show our children that our sons are kings while their sisters, born robots.
Besides bringing up sensible individuals, we should remember that our children learn from our own actions rather than what they are told to do. Therefore, we should start teaching ourselves to look after ourselves. We should learn to pamper ourselves if no one else seems to want to. We should take guilt-free bubble baths or pursue a long forgotten hobby. We should go for walks or visit friends over a warm cup of coffee. We should take that massage we’ve always wanted or watch a movie. We should be the change we want to see because in the end, you get in life, only what you have the courage to ask for while you are capable of amazing things!