Friday 8 March 2013

An un-woman post on Women's Day

My domestic just left. I was wondering whether to ask her to leave without doing any work as today was International Women's Day and she deserves her worth of salt. But if I ask her to leave, I will have to do all the work and I was not ready for that. And, yesterday the domestic didn't turn up piling a lot of work. Truth to be told, I don't much like doing household chores. I do them if there is no choice and I sometimes surprise myself by doing lot of work. But today I was simply not up to it. The help completed her work and left. Women's day or not, she has to work to feed her family. She has no one writing posts for her and stringing words to acknowledge the multiple juggling of roles that she plays - mother, wife, domestic help, casual labourer in the Guest house and so on.

This week saw many posts on Women's day. I read and reread many posts written by men for this special day. Reading some posts, I wondered, "Will I ever be the kind of woman they write about?" They wrote about caring, serving and never tiring efforts by mothers. Are mothers made this way? Let me be specific - Can I function that way. Caring is something that I have to force myself to do. It doesn't come naturally to me. Even if someone is sick, I can sit beside them. But after a point, I get plain bored. I can cook and see to it that their demands are met but sighing and fretting, I don't and can't do. But then I wonder --- Will I have to do all that when I beget a child? I might but I would also like to add that if I bring a child into this world, then the child should not associate love, care and warmth only from the mother. The child should see the father as well as the mother function in different roles. I don't want my child (children) to fix roles for specific gender. He/she should be able to see the father slogging in the kitchen, the mother reading newspaper in the morning and so on. Roles as these are etched in the mind of the young and as they grow up they demand and seek those roles in their adult life.

Another point that I noticed in many posts was how women adapt themselves to a married life almost within a week or two in the new setup. Is there a choice, I ask. A woman has to adapt herself by any means for she is fed an overdose of advises from all and sundry - "That's your house hereafter." I can never reconcile with that. How can the concept of own's home can be changed so quickly. And it's always the new bride who wakes up early to prepare coffee/tea for everyone at home. This business of getting up early and trying to do the house work -- I can never manage. I have seen that if one does something in the initial years of marriage then one is doomed to behave the same way throughout one's period of existence in that house. The bottom line: Don't set high expectations in the formative years of marriage. Ah, I forgot to add, if one does not get up before the sun, then one is called lazy and that the parents haven't 'taught' the girl to be responsible. Well, if the son can't wake up, then why should the daughter-in-law wake up. This getting up early business is the pride of many women - Not for me.

By attributing certain characteristics to women, it has so happened that women by default think that one has to live up to the expectations and hence forget what it means to live a life without any hassles of getting up in the morning, doing boring housework and sitting up with someone who has fever. One day, I casually asked my mother, "Didn't you miss your home after getting married?" She replied, "I didn't know anything like that." I was left wondering. I again prodded, "How was life after marriage?" She was lost. Well, she just was. That day I realised something very important. Women are always identified by their roles - mother, sister, daughter, spouse but that's not all that is there to her. She is an individual who inwardly fights the soft and tender attributes to her but still goes on performing those ascribed roles because if she rebelled, the 'bad' name is for the family. But there are others who go beyond the ascribed roles and turn deaf to the pseudo trappings of what the others assign for her.

I want my child to see me beyond the roles that are usually attributed for a mother!

I want my child to see my husband and I as mothers and fathers - roles effectively managed by both of us.

I want my child to not know the difference between woman chores and man chores.

A happy women's day to me and my ilk.

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet


  1. Beautiful post Susan.. Not just the words, but the thoughts and fears you have so beautifully penned down.

    I keep questioning those around me on these exact things and havent received satisfactory answers till date. Mom has just accepted her way of life, more downs than ups; friends sigh and say "what can i do?" and then there are those who have made a difference, paid the price, reconciled with fate and are living on.

    I just want my life to be MINE, i need that identity and i keep wondering if this will stop me from taking the leap into the world beyond.. marriage! :)

  2. Emancipation will come only if we liberate ourselves from unrealistic expectations!

    And we most certainly shouldn't limit ourselves because of our gender.

    Wonderful post!

  3. And I completely agree with you Susan. I hate housework! My maid did not turn up today, and I was glad to see her today. And, kids will see all of that. Though I handle the cooking, my husband enjoys cooking too. He chips in with household chores. He has a working mother and that helps! In my home, even my son vacuums the house. And all the boys treat me like a queen. But, I do the most of housework. I don't maintain time table. We chip in with chores as and when needed. I think flexibility is what is needed. And most importantly work out a balance for your home not based on what another person says or thinks. Happy Women's Day to you as well!

  4. Ah, were you talking about you? Or me? And yes, temporary adjustments are what lead to bigger compromises. Adopt a lifestyle instead and an equal one at that, as you have rightly pointed out. Fab post!

  5. A good post Susan. We are wonderfully made that we automatically mature into the role we take up. Yesterday I was an expectant father fretting over how will I look after my child to be born, I held her in my arms for the first time & everything seemed normal like I have been always doing it.
    Chores are painful and I was wondering now, I wished women's day to all, maybe I shld have made coffee & woken D up. A dinner at restaurant means nothing.
    I believe today chores are a choice, women do it of their choice as those who can afford help appoint help.
    Initially the heart yearns for the home we came from, slowly home shifts to where the heart is. It is growing in love and a gradual process.
    It was a real pleasure reading your post, reminded me to temper my expectations.

    Apologies for the long comment.

  6. I recall when we celebrated our mom n tis day growing up in the Communist Europe, this was a very celebrated day. Today this is mentioned briefly on the news here, but if I would ave not read your post, I would have forgotten all about it.;)
    As for the gender roles, in Scandinavia they are totally dispersed. Men get "fathers leaves" to be with their new born and we have women workaholics.;)
    As for my own home, my husband does more household chores than me, he even does the grocery shopping and cooking.;)
    Have a great weekend dear friend,

  7. You have put it all up so brilliantly !

  8. We are same in so many ways...I hate house work too. But, having a fetish for cleanliness bordering OCD, I will not be satisfied if things are not done my way. My hubby cooks too occasionally, but I hate to clean up after him. I don't like getting up is done for survival. I am teaching my son to contribute in the house work.

  9. Hi Susan:
    Excellent as always!
    Like what you said about children seeing their parents having different roles. I believe that's important too. My BEST friend has a house cleaning service. So I completely understand that people who own their own business don't have the luxury to take arbitrary days off.

    Nice to see that you're thinking of others, Susan.

  10. True :
    our Roles are devises which are Convenient to the Society :
    Housework being the prime one : You are the Nurturer : so cook and clean :
    It is up to us to challenge them ,Reject them and Transform them :
    Thanks for putting it in Black and white !

  11. Our Roles are Convenient Devices which suit the society norms:
    it is up to us to challenge ,reject and transform them :
    Thanks for putting it in Black and white !


  12. It is not easy for me to change. I am like my mother and her mother. But I would like my sons to treat their wives like equals...the girls should not be expected to do all the work at home and then go out for working in the office. It is not easy. Let us see what happens. I was working until my second son was born. Then I quit my job. May be, I should have continued!

    Happy women's Day!

  13. You have brought out this post in a wonderful manner :) This made me think! Excellent post :)

  14. A typical susan post ! Happy womens day !

  15. A good mom doesn't play by someone else's rules, you don't have to be a smother mother to be great at the job. I think that any future children would be lucky to get a mom who thinks about life so deeply.

  16. Susan, I think you'll make a great Mom someday. Your ideas are absolutely wonderful. I think children deserve to see freedom of roles in their parents. When my daughter was a baby, i worked outside the home, my husband took care of her. I can't say he absorbed the whole idea of role reversal entirely, but for those days it was a good start. Your child(ren) will be so lucky to have a mother who thinks so progressively. Thanks for this post. (By the way, I don't think you're uncaring at all. I doubt anyone cares for the sick out of joy, but out of a sense of duty or obligation that stems from love. And I know you are a loving person.

  17. Can definitely relate, Susan. I find the older I get, the more I hate housework and the drudgery that goes with it. I'd rather be doing interesting and stimulating things like writing. Housework is time consuming too. Eats too much into my productive hours. My partner is hands-on, there are no man/woman roles in our household. But you know how these things work. Children still want mum to do certain things. Tom-tom my daughter prefers me to make her rice crispies exactly how she likes it and refuses to let her father anywhere near it. Oh well!

    Happy Women's day to you. Yay to all house help out there. Wish we had some help. Seriously considering it (but labour is pretty expensive in the UK on top of everything else.) Would certainly make our lives easier!

  18. HI Susan,

    I can relate to everything that you have written here. Yes, the gender stereotypes are etched way deep in our society and it becomes difficult to break the trend. It is not impossible to break them but it is a tough process.

    I have been lucky that my parents have been very progressive and have helped me to my mould my thinking like them.

    Loved the post..

  19. You've put it so beautifully. Yes, one does not have to fit in, one just has to be ones own self. The assigned role for a mother and woman is unrealistic and should be thrown away. Wonderful post Susan

  20. Susan,

    I don't hate (house)work, I can sit and look at it for hours. Paraphrased from Jerome K Jerome

    I am also one of those freaks who are up in pre-dawn and just LOVE it. But, I hate making tea at a time I think should be devoted to contemplating the infinite.

    Caring comes naturally to me. I can fuss over someone who is sick until they want to leave the bed just to escape my loving ministrations. There IS a bit of exaggeration there, but just a bit.

    I like to cook- occasionally. And if I am engrossed in a thriler, you'd better walk on your toes around me. In fact, DONT BLOODY ENTER MY ROOM..!

    You enthralled me... nice!

  21. It's the stereotyping that always gets to me too, Susan. You've articulated it so well. Now relax and be YOU.

  22. Women have been attributed with characteristics, duties, roles and whatever suits the society in general and most women too struggle to fit in. It is that 'struggle to fit in' that makes women more vulnerable. I feel that makes societies too more and more fragile.

  23. Such a wonderful post, Susan! I too just want to be defined as a normal human beings, with good qualities and also many flaws! I don't need distinctions and I don't need the undue attention that makes us feel we're letting people down if we don't continue in our designated roles!!

  24. Absolutely Fab!!
    Everyone give us a break please... why so many expectations only from us.. I really don't want my kids to know that women are associated with house chores and cooking and men with their jobs and running the family..
    And the absolute and sudden change expected from a newly wed is something I have never been able to come to terms with.

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