Our narrative needs to change when it comes to our perception of women who choose to be a homemaker after their marriage. This has been debated time and again, and yet like a knee jerk reflex, many of us go on to show our lack of regard for homemakers by adding the word ‘just’ before the all-encompassing role they play. ‘She is just a housewife’ tag hits hard to women today who are educated and choose to stay at home.
I have grown up hearing that my mother was wonderful in academics and had a great career ahead. She was pursuing doctorate in Urdu when she left everything behind to take care of me. Few days, back I asked her, “Mom, do you regret leaving your education and career for me and dad?”
I was expecting a delayed reply but, to my surprise, she promptly said, “No!”
I was forced to ask ‘why’,because of all the things I have heard before. I mean who wouldn’t regret leaving a glorious career behind. Most of us, definitely will!
She replied, “A woman is so much more than her educational qualifications or a job. Just because a women is not using her degree, doesn’t mean that she is wasting her education. Always remember, one thing, having an education has no connection to having a degree. But, yeah, I really wish that my daughter didn’t have this “wonderful” Urdu.”
I pondered over her answer for long. She blessed me with a new idea for my blog, besides, roasting me. For all those who know me, are well aware of my “amazing” skills in Urdu. Jokes apart, let’s come to the point.
India wants to know whether you are married or not and then immediately “What do you do?” Being a housewife is plain and simple. I feel nowadays, housewives face so much flak and are butt of so many jokes that we as a collective whole have succeeded in making women feel guilty of there choices. Husbands and children, sometimes, even feel ashamed to introduce their wives and mothers as a homemaker.
Ever wondered the reason for it.
Saying that’s how pathetic the patriarchal society is, isn’t enough. I strongly believe, there is equal role of other women to make a woman feel inferior, if not less, or may be even more than men. It is observed in children especially girls that they are quite reluctant in telling about their mothers’ occupation, if all their friends have working mothers.
The stereotype, all round us in ads, films, soap operas and stories shows a housewife putting on a severe-looking kurta or saree getting ready for a hot poori making session in a healthy for heart oil, while the table is laden with ‘matar paneer’,’ aloo ki sabzi’, ‘chole’– anything unhealthy you name, and that’s just breakfast. My mother would never let me eat such unhealthy breakfast, for sure. There are varieties but, definitely not poori for breakfast. A mother giving readymade foods to her children as shown in TV, is just a myth.
My favorite is showing, a woman cleaning the kitchen looking spotless herself with no sweat, dolled up in make up. Let me ask, how many of us have seen our mother, even with a lipstick at home while monitoring swach bharat abhyan at home? I can vouch, I have never seen my mother even with a kohl when she is in ‘all cleaning’ mode.
I have seen my mother working 24×7 for 365 days, tirelessly in a vacation free period. I have seen her getting early in the morning to make breakfast She cleans the house single handedly. She cooks food, does laundry and is also at beck and call of every family member. She can even change a fused bulb by climbing on a ladder. Despite, the tiredness reflecting in her eyes, she puts a smile on her face and works without complaining. And, this is the situation with all the homemakers and, this is the reality. Some of us may say, there is a housemaid at home to help our mother.
Yeah, she is there, but a day without mother at home, is like a haggard war zone, everything becomes topsy turvy. At present since, there is no housemaid, we have become household help. Do I need to remind that how many times we have argued with our mother to even provide a glass of water to our siblings? We have a list complains while doing a single work- ‘Mom, this mop doesn’t work’, ‘Mom, this knife has gone crazy, it doesn’t cut properly’, ‘Mom, I am tired, I’ll do it tomorrow.’ Have we ever heard our mothers’ throwing tantrums like this? If she did, we must be sleeping empty stomach for years. And obviously, that’s not the case!
Call these task dull, boring, uninteresting, but you certainly can’t call them unchallenging. It is as challenging to be a homemaker, as much it is to be a working women. Perhaps she had a choice or perhaps she didn’t. Look beyond the salary slips, privileges and freedom and then only we will realize how a woman can never be ‘just a housewife’. She is a caretaker, a mother, a wife, a housekeeper, a cook, all rolled in a single cap.
Just because her contribution cannot be quantified in the form of money, doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve respect and care. It is not she, who is responsible for her lowly status. It is us, who refuse to see all her hard work and sacrifices.
PS- The matter of respect and care is also applicable for men who take care of the house and children while the wife is away from home earning money for them.