Somehow and quite unintentionally I’m sure, some home makers (self included) derive the impression that they are the foundation that holds a home together. While this is absolutely true to some extent (in terms of maintaining relationships, developing and strengthening family bonds etc) it may not quite apply in other areas.
Let me clarify. With husbands busy with their careers and kids with their schools and studies and classes for all kinds of skills meant to boost their future job and matrimonial CVs, its Moms who take up the task of keeping the home running perfectly.
This means that provisions are never exhausted, the laundry done and clothes ironed and returned to their cupboards (darned too if required), plants or garden watered, maids and other domestic help employed and supervised and so on… Cobwebs, dust, cockroaches would dare not enter such a household.
I know of many career women who maintain such a household. So this cannot be said to be the sole domain of ladies without a regular “job”.
In my case, a feeling of being “indispensable” crept in. It did not make me conceited in any way – rather I developed a fear of leaving the home to the rest of my family. How would they manage? They will be late for work/school/classes; their work/study would suffer… Being the true Indian “nari”, this was something I just could not forgive myself for…
Some years ago, I decided to undergo a Vipassana course. Everything was set except for one major hurdle. My home. Rather would it survive my absence? It took quite some ‘courage’ on my part and ‘persuasion’ by my family that all would be well for the duration I was away.
So there I was, meditating for 10 days of which we stayed absolutely silent for nine. All the while, some part of me constantly worried about home. At end of Day 10 when I returned home, I was fully ready to find chaos.
Yet there was nothing of the kind. Tea and then dinner was ready for all of us, everything was ship shape- was it actually a tad better than what I did? I dare not think more on those lines, as my Ego seemed to have taken a bruising. Yet sanity told me this was something to be proud of.
This incident had got me introspecting. While its great to be able to ‘do’ things for our family members it’s vital that they become independent as well. While mine was a voluntary absence there may be instances of sudden departures when such ‘so called’ efficiency or pampering (call it what you like) actually becomes a hindrance to the family who were totally dependent and unable or unwilling to take over household tasks. This means making sure both sons and daughters help and learn how to keep their rooms and cupboards clean and tidy, husbands and grown ups kids learn some cooking basics, everyone who is legally eligible learns to drive whatever vehicles are present in the household, repair broken buttons and so on…
Its vital to jot down amount paid to all domestic help, location and dosage of common medicines, relevant phone numbers – grocer, milkman, newspaper, Internet provider, etc. It’s strange how absence of any of these services can make life seem miserable and these contact details kept handy will relieve a lot of anguish.
Usually women easily ‘take over’ whenever the husband is away – be it with bank or investment decisions or vehicle repairs or the carpenter or computer. Mothers are equally ‘good’ at helping kids with their homework or the dreaded projects. Yet the reverse may not always be true.
Once all this is done, it remains theoretical until actually tested. That means, actually going away for a few days- be it on a holiday or trek, visit relatives what ever … just away.
This is one situation where I gladly accepted the feeling of not being “indispensable” and to surrender my ‘kingdom’!