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Which is the most overworked yet unpaid job across the world? That of a housewife.
This, I have come to realise as I gradually settled into this role of a housewife after quitting my job. I do all the work expected of a housewife like cooking ,cleaning up and caring for my kid. I do engage a domestic helper and yet at times, find the job of a housewife daunting – that is perhaps due to the fact that there is no appreciation of a job well done. Oops, sorry, I need to correct this – there is no acknowledgement even of a task and I am talking of appreciation!
Moreover, all at home take the housewife’s presence at home for granted – so she has no free time for herself. She is always at the mercy of others. She has to plead even when she wants to shop for groceries. When she is doing that, more often than not, there will be some urgent work which will recall her back home almost immediately. And mind you, this was not what you could call her free time – she was shopping for groceries.
Eventually, the housewife tends to squeeze in time when all other members are at work, school etc for her jaunts like shopping, attending calls for repairs etc. After she has finished with all this, she will try to relax but does she? I feel that her job is the one with the maximum stress levels. This goes on for days together which turn into months and years without a break. And then, that remark ,“Oh, you are at home – so good. You can work at your speed without rushing through like us who are working.”
Actually,the word ‘working woman’ is anathema to me – is a housewife idle? The one nice thing about being a housewife is that there is no discrimination- the world over, it is the same story. In poor households as well as rich, from a home in America to a home in India, the condition of the housewife is the same.It cuts across barriers of caste,creed, colour.
I recall a friend settled abroad who told me, “I am a housewife now and the standards expected of the cleanliness, cooking, child’s behavior is quite different from that of a working woman. People comment, that as I am at home, the home should be squeaky clean, the kid well behaved, cooking varied and so on and on.For a working woman,there are concessions. The home need not be clean, the kid can be unruly, the cooking mundane -after all she is working !”
And why blame outsiders, when the members of your own household share the view that you as a housewife are just idle at home after the daily routine of cooking, cleaning, caring, attending calls,etc? The housewife should do at least this much -what else is she doing anyway? This will also keep her occupied and she will not get bored.
I am petrified of one more aspect of this job – caring for the elderly, the kids,the sick ones. In spite of my care and upbringing, if things go wrong,then who will take the blame? Suppose my child does not turn out well behaved, is bad at studies, unruly – who will be held responsible ? Obviously me – in spite of being a housewife, I failed. Of course, I can do better by being more considerate to the child – listening to the demands, correcting the behavior and so on, but then, am I to devote all my time for others without any time for myself ? Failures are intolerable especially if the housewife is the perpetrator.
If a contest is held to select the most suitable person for the position of a housewife, who do you guess will win hands down? Well, the answer is no one. Who would want to trade places with a housewife?
Actually, a homemaker gets depressed in later years when kids are in college and the husband is too busy (more busy than before ). Some families may have some elders or other invalid members to be cared for. In a majority of homes, the bored homemaker is a reality. Many have to seek counselling. Yoga is recommended as it helps to keep us happy. Even I have yoga classes thrice a week. It keeps me fit. I meet people in the class. We chat and giggle. It has made me a calmer and happier person. I have seen many of my friends go in for learning music, dance etc.I think this is a welcome move.
Earlier our mothers never needed such an option as times were not rushed. Today,it is not so.All are in their own world(s). We may refuse to admit but we are in a lonely world. So it is good to know that homemakers are seeking their own avenues and brightening up their mundane lives. Moreover, this, the home maker is doing purely for her self…she is seeking an identity for herself and that too, just for the sheer joy of it.
Pic credit: Flex (Used under a Creative Commons license)
I am a law graduate from Government Law College,Mumbai.I am a Fellow in
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