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Do you find yourself expected to do it all? The fault lies with our mothers, as they fall short of a role model for today’s working woman.
Snaking my way through peak office-hour traffic at the end of a long, hard day at work, I reached the blissful confines of home. My 17 year old son hugs me and says, “Mom, give me something to eat”.
I wrack my brain. Last time I checked, I had still not started carrying the kitchen to office. The reprimand was sharp, “Since you were at home, relaxing after your class XII exams, maybe you should have cooked something for me”. The repartee was sharper, “Mom, what will Nani (maternal grandmother) and Dadi (paternal grandmother) say if they come to know that you want me to cook for you?”
This expectation that I, being a mother, am responsible for cooking and placing food before him whenever he feels hungry, is because that’s what he has seen his Dadi and Nani do. Both my mother and mother in law are housewives and excellent cooks. They make sure that family members do not even know what it means to be hungry; everyone is fed before they can get a chance to be hungry.
When we were kids, most of our mothers were home makers. Men were the bread winners and women were the home makers. Division of labor was efficient and roles were clear. So in a typical home like ours, kids come back from school and look for their mom to serve them food. When dad comes back in the evening, tired and exhausted, mom will not only serve him refreshments but also ensure that kids don’t disturb him. Dad plonks on the sofa in front of the TV and spends the rest of the evening relaxing.
When I was young, I was asked, “What do you want to become when you grow up?”
I had replied, “I want to become Papa, because when papa comes home, he is treated like a king”.
Women are no longer home makers only; they are now breadwinners too. Slowly but surely women have started taking on the role of earning members of the family, they are also going for 9-5 jobs. Men have welcomed the idea of an extra earning hand with open arms but there has been no corresponding change in expectation from ladies. Ladies are still expected to discharge the same duties which their home maker mothers carried off with aplomb.
After almost two decades of full time jobs and having had help to cook all through, my cooking skills are obviously rusted and not the sharpest. Cooking early morning before going to office, like some of my peers manage to do and admirably so, doesn’t find resonance with me as that is my designated time to exercise and read up the newspapers to catch up with the world around me. After work there is nothing much left in my body and am just looking to grab my dinner and hit the bed. There is no possible way in the world that I can match up to the standards set up by the senior ladies of the house.
As SBI CEO Arundhati Bhattacharya explained at the recently concluded Oracle OpenWorld Summit, how women create standards based on their experiences and when they compare themselves with others, it creates guilt. She mentioned that one needs to set up standards that work. Do not live under ‘someone else’s’ standards.
In many traditional households, it is still expected that a lady will return from work and then make sure that dinner is cooked and served. As one of my colleagues shared, as soon as she reaches home, she gets requests from family members to make tea, toast bread etc and is then expected to prepare dinner as well.
The challenge we women face today is that we don’t have updated role models. Most of the time we end up getting compared with our mothers or MILs, who were superb home-makers, but who were not making presentation/ppts, who were not driving to work, etc., which is all a part of the daily routine of the present day working woman. What we need to do is to have modern day role models.
All Business Development & Business Research professionals are familiar with a concept called Expectation Setting. This is basically setting the client’s expectations right, informing them of challenges upfront and telling them what is realistically possible to achieve. This is a very important step because the ultimate aim is to keep the client happy and ensure that he comes back for renewal. The golden rule is under promise and over deliver… this is sure to impress the client and make him keep coming back for more. As working women, the odds or expectation s are so heavily stacked against us that there is very little chance of us coming out with flying colors unless we change society’s expectations from us.
Image source: shutterstock
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A journalist by education, a marketing professional by trade and a blogger by choice. A
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