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Does only a super clean house make a worthy woman? What if I wanted to do more fulfilling things instead of dusting and mopping everyday?
My mother surprised me with a visit this month. I was overwhelmed to see her and we both hugged as she entered my home. It had been a long time since she saw me.
On entering, the first thing she said was,“You don’t take care of yourself, see how thin you look.”
I smiled and said, “Mom, I am not thin, see! How wonderfully I have maintained myself.”
“Haan-Hann today’s girls…”, she began and then stopped all of sudden. Her smile faded and I saw her eyes examining my house.
“What is this Ritu? Your house looks scattered and unorganized. There are toys all over the floor. There is a layer of dirt settled on this vase. The ceiling fans are so dirty, as if haven’t cleaned since a few months.”
“Mom please don’t start all this. I was very exhausted last night, so I went directly to sleep without assembling the toys. I had cleaned this vase just the day before yesterday, and can’t you see I am not tall enough to reach the ceiling fan to clean them, even with the help of a stool? Rohit has promised to help me as soon as he gets free,” I said.
“Do not give me excuses Ritu. You should keep your house clean. Anyone can come anytime. What if your mother-in-law would have come, instead of me? She would have loaded you with taunts,” my mom said as she got picking up the toys.
“Mummy its 6 AM. The day has just started. Soon Nevaan will get up, I have to cook for him, make breakfast and lunch. I can’t just jump on to cleaning my house. After completing the important household work, I give an hour daily to clean and dust the house. Leave the toys, I will pick them up later. Have a cup of tea,” I said.
My mom gave me an angry look, as she sipped her tea, sitting on the sofa.
“You are a lazy homemaker Ritu. Just look at me. I used to get up at 5 am. I never kept a maid and did all the cleaning, sweeping and dusting by myself. After making breakfast, I would send you and your brother to school, and your father to office. I used to clean the sofa, kitchen platform, dining table, fridge and flower vases every day. Every month I would clean the ceiling fans, drawers, cupboards, and shelves. My house would dazzle like a diamond. I thought you would be my shadow, but you aren’t”, my mother complained.
I remained silent for a few minutes and then broke my silence, “I am sorry mom. I am not your shadow and I never want to be. I do not want to spend my 50 years just cleaning my house and waiting for someone to come and appreciate me. I have many other things to do. I am a doctor. I give 2 hours daily to my clinic, I am a writer and in spite of wasting my time in cleaning a already cleaned house.
I would prefer writing some masterpiece. I am ambitious and I have to push my career. I am a mother who wants to play with her child, and to help him with his homework rather than picking his toys every half hour. I am a wife who just can’t spend her whole time serving her husband, cleaning his clothes and making his bed. I want to go with him on a long drive and candle light dinner. I am a human being who prefers to sleep when exhausted, rather than picking up toys before going to bed.
I love you mom for whatever you did for us. But mom, I can’t be you. I have many important things to do than to waste 6 hours of a day and 50 years of my life cleaning my home. Cleaning can wait for some time. The bed can be made a little later, but I don’t want to miss precious moments in my life, nor can I compromise with my health.
Twenty five years I have spent with you. It was only occasionally that someone would visit you uninformed and suddenly. In my case, if someone comes, including my mother in law, I really don’t bother what they think or how they judge me on seeing a few scattered toys, clothes or little dust on flower vases.
I am proud of myself because I am a friendly wife and a caring mom. I am good doctor and an appreciated writer. I am happy and contented with these titles.”
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Ha! Ha! I can relate to this post very well Ritu. I too am perhaps the black sheep of my family because I haven’t been able to make my house “dazzle” even after 15 years of marriage and home making. I still cannot wrap my head around the daily, monthly, yearly house cleaning/decorating rituals and challenges that I see many wives voluntarily sign up for. Honestly, cleaning is one task that I can never put my soul into-so perhaps it seems even more mundane and difficult to deal with. It neither ever seems done nor does my way of cleaning ever make the house seem “dazzling” by any stretch of imagination. So clearly I fail to be an exemplary cleaner and housekeeper. But since I’ve not ever interviewed for that job or will any time ever, I don’t sweat over it. I only ever signed up to be a loving wife and mother and I’m above average I would say in that job profile, so I’m good! I have learnt to accept this aspect of who I am and not being OCD, about it certainly doesn’t define me as any less than others who may enjoy cleaning. Besides, logically speaking when you have kids and they are still small, I would think cleaning and clearing up with too much regularity, is certainly a futile endeavour to pursue. Like the hamster on a wheel -running all day and getting no where!!! Although some cleaning is essential for health and hygiene reasons, I personally feel, “obsessively” cleaning or decorating to “bedazzle”- is perhaps sometimes to compete with others or impress someone/people or prove some point (much the same way as obsessively keeping up with fashion and looking your best at all times or obsessively fighting aging !!) I figured this out some years ago- if we don’t enjoy running those races, we don’t have to- one can always be the “bystander”, watching the others in the race sweat it out and see who wins in the end, but we certainly won’t be losing any sleep over any of it ! What do you say? High five?!
Thanks Sonia and i guess it is the story of most of the indian women.
You are absolutely right. This is something I learnt the hard way, after miserably trying to impress the spend-your-life-cleaning-and-tidying-up group of people. I have noticed that they are not interested in anything other than a sparkling house whereas I want to read, write, birdwatch (the list goes on). It’s okay if keeping the house sparkling and neat gives them joy, but imposing it on me, not okay at all. I have better things to do 😀
Absolutely true .. there are many lil things we want to do and be happy for. Who knows about nxt birth ..
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