Anupama writes a letter to her 18-year old daughter. Read what she has to say.
When the husband steps in to take over work traditionally deemed women’s – in the kitchen, or taking care of kids, what does really happen? A funny story.
Gender specific roles are a big no-no in today’s day and age. A woman can do just as well or better, what the man does and the man can do everything that a woman can and would traditionally be expected to do. We, as a society, are slowly coming to accept that the man and the woman are equals. That the man is not ‘superior’ as our patriarchal society would have us believe.
And many of us (to the utter dismay of the older generation) are trying to model this behaviour in the presence of our children as well. We are trying to get to a point where, as the women grace the high echelons of the corporate world, the men are conquering recipes (some traditional, some modern, and several accidental) in the kitchen, making friends with the children (yes, they are beyond just playing football with the boys and ignoring the girls altogether); and are helping clean the house (okay, that is stretching it too far!).
My point is, that The Husband, who was, so far, only expected to drink endless cups of tea (or coffee if you want to go nit-picking) and watch endless hours of cricket (or football, again, if you…) and was only ever called out to do anything that the women couldn’t handle (huh?); suddenly finds himself wielding knives in the kitchen, trying to figure out the difference between cutting, chopping, dicing and julienne cuts (that’s French, by the way). Where his only job at home so far, was to change the light bulbs and fix the leaking taps; he is now entrusted with the most delicate and extremely important responsibilities of changing diapers, burping babies, feeding toddlers; and sometimes even getting the kids to sleep! And you know what? The Husband, has jumped right in, with a positive spirit and managed to master all this and so much more! Or so he thinks.
The truth, though, is very different. Because the truth, you see, is something that needs to hold universally true. What is one person’s truth, cannot be another’s…eye roll (for the lack of a better word).
See, sometimes when women want The Husband to step in, they are not all that prepared for the fact that no two people do anything alike! And if you are a stickler and like things done only a certain way…then you are in for a huge disappointment when someone else does your job. And sometimes, even if you are not a stickler, it is still vexing.
Let me tell you, how.
You wake up in the morning. And it is the weekend. So you expect The Husband to make coffee or tea, as the case may be. And this is every married woman’s expectation, without exception (psst, even that of the older generation, they just won’t tell you, so that you don’t start making The Husband do it, although, you do it anyway!)
Okay… coming back to the point, it is a weekend and the first thing in the morning you wish The Husband makes the first cup of coffee. The very first cup that you never, believe me, never get to drink hot on any other day of the week when you are rushing in the mornings. And to ensure that your wish comes true, you convey it to The Husband, very nicely, the previous night. And then you wake up, on the Saturday morning, a little later than usual; and turn to your side and see The Husband, still snoring away in deep sleep.
Okay. You take a deep breath. You know you can do this. It is just one cup of coffee, right? So what if you make it, you did mention breakfast last night…hopefully he has taken that hint at least. Because, you understand, it is difficult to wake up in the morning, especially on a Saturday, just to make some coffee. You are ready to let that go.
So you go ahead and make the coffee. You brew it just the way you like it, and sit and have that coveted first sip! Ah bliss! It is the relaxed and easy atmosphere around coffee that really matters, you tell yourself, it doesn’t matter who makes it. Right? Right. So you enjoy your cup of coffee.
While you are on your second cup and catching up with your social life on the phone, The Husband walks up to you, still groggy, and with the kids still sleeping, and watching The Husband in his boxers, you go all weak in the knees! You look up to him and expect him to peck your forehead, the way they do in movies, and he looks at you straight in the eye and asks, “where’s my cup?”
Deep breath. It helps. Really, you should try it. Deep breathing is almost always helpful. Until it gets to breakfast time, that is, and you try to telepathically convey to The Husband that you did mention something about making breakfast, especially since now the kids are up and you are planning on getting an early start on their exam prep. But The Husband is not built on the same wavelength, unfortunately, and doesn’t get your telepathic messages. So you try another way. You ask. “So, what shall we do for breakfast?”
Now, you are a female and you have instincts and you have been raised to read people’s minds. But you forget, that The Husband, is not. So, he reluctantly looks up from his newspaper and says, “anything,” and once again loses himself in the sports page. Well, you cannot blame a woman for trying!
So you go ahead and take it all out on the eggs!
After a hearty breakfast of extra fluffy eggs and toast and cupful of strong tea, you are now finally ready to tackle the day. So you ask the kids to get their books out.
And finally – and we do not know whether it is because of the tea or a good breakfast or a much better sleep than on any other night, or some other miracle altogether, but – The Husband finally decides to step up. He offers to oversee the kids’ revision. And once again, despite everything else, you go weak in the knees!
You are still mentally choosing between a hot bath, a good book, or maybe even a quick pedicure; when you begin to hear voices. First The Husband and then the kids. And then there is crying, and shouting; something about handwriting and neatness (this from The Husband) and something about paining hands and boring revisions (this from the kids); and before even ten minutes are up, your kids come running to you. With the younger ones openly saying they do not want to study with Daddy and the elder ones making eyes at you to please call Daddy off!
Deep breaths, I told you. Always. Except of course, when you lose your temper. And march outside, to confront The Husband; who has already gotten lost on his phone, with the headphones on. Deep breaths. A sigh.
And then you your take your position at the table and the kids take theirs and you are about to start, when The Husband asks if there’s any more tea, because you see, he now has a headache because of the scuffle with the kids!
Deep breaths, my dears, deep breaths. You make the tea, because, frankly, even you need it now. And also because you know that the lunch and the dinner are going the breakfast way. And you have concluded, despite all the talk about gender specific roles and whatnot, that sometimes things are allowed to work the way they are, is actually a blessing in disguise. Because, really, when you wish for a change, you may not be entirely prepared for it.
Published here earlier.
Image source: shutterstock
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With over 200 published stories, Rashmi is a lawyer-turned-writer, who has always given
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