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Household work is for girls, not boys, we tell girls, while telling boys that it is their job to earn for the household. Makes for good male managers, who are helpless at home. Why?
One month into my marriage, guess what is the last thing I say to my husband before going to bed?
No silly! It is not I love you!
It is ‘Kal khane mein kya banwaun?’ (What should I get made for lunch/ dinner tomorrow?)
Yes. I am privileged. I have a cook. Kal khane mein kya banwaun (What should I get made for lunch/ dinner tomorrow?) is better than Kal khane mein kya banaun (What should I make for lunch/ dinner tomorrow?). I am also one of those women other ladies call ‘lucky’. Why? My husband shares a lot of the household responsibilities. Just yesterday, he asked me:
‘Do you need any help?’
I started thinking which work I should assign to him…
The maid is not coming tomorrow. So, he could wash our tiffin boxes…
The clothes are in the washing machine. But it looks cloudy. If we hang it now, it will get wet..
But wait, some clothes are already in the balcony. They need to be removed…
The bedsheet is not changed. Washed bedsheet is in the left cupboard of the upstairs’ room. Will have to explain to hubby to find it. Leave it.
Chicken is in the kadahi. It won’t fit in the fridge. It needs to be put in the smaller vessel. But that vessel is in a pile of vessels in the sink. He will not be able to find it.
And wait…There is a little sabzi in three different bowls in the fridge. Need to throw it out and wash it too. But he already threw out the garbage. Okay let me put a new plastic bag in the garbage bin first.
And must remember to cook brinjal tomorrow. Out of all the vegetables, it seems the closest to rotting.
Sharma Aunty has brought Kaju Barfi but both of us are avoiding sweets… Must remember to give it to Sheela tomorrow. Tomorrow .. Arre Friday! The plumber was also supposed to come tomorrow….
Finally to hubby, ‘Please wash the tiffin boxes.’
You see. Even the lucky women like me with helpers and a nice husband have a continuous struggle. There are things that I need to do. Plus, things that I need to remember to do. Plus, the things I need to remember to tell others in time in order to keep my house in a functioning mode.
For centuries, we women have been told that household work is our domain. Society, husbands, in-laws, our own mothers, grandmothers, friends, cousins all believe this. We take solace in the fact that at least we have maids. At least we have husbands who occasionally help. We wear the ‘House Manager’ title with pride.
But wait. Let us look at the life of a manager. A typical manager has a team. He / she delegates the work and reviews the work. But does he / she execute the work himself?
When at work, men take responsibility of the work. I have seen some male colleagues who were neither good at studies nor technically sound. They may not even be sincere. Yet they manage to excel at work. They raise their hands in meetings to ask irrelevant questions just to get noticed. They do not hesitate to take up new opportunities even when they know they do not have the necessary skill-set. They network well with bosses and clients. They stay awake at night and meet deadlines. If required, they do not hesitate to project themselves as more competent than they actually are and highlight the inefficiencies of their peers. Why?
It is ingrained in their mindset that they are the providers of their family. They must do whatever it takes to succeed in their careers.
However, when it comes to household work, men feel that is the wife’s primary responsibility and they can “help”. Helping for them is enough because their fathers did not even enter the kitchen or change diapers.
“French comic artist Emma illustrates the concept of the ‘mental load’. When a man expects his partner to ask him to do things, he is viewing her as the manager of their household chores. The mental load is almost completely borne by women. It is permanent and exhausting work. And it’s invisible.”
There are way too many things on our minds. Making grocery lists, scheduling repairs, buying gifts for birthday parties kids have to attend, coming home to see random projects and tests due tomorrow in the kids’ diaries. Some men even delegate the job of remembering birthdays, anniversaries, weddings from their side of the families to their wives and expect them to plan the phone calls, gifts, visits etc. What are we? PR managers?
Husbands have various reasons for NOT sharing the mental load. What are some of such ridiculous excuses? What if they behaved like this at work?
I don’t want to say anything to the maid! You deal with her!
This is classic. Men don’t want to monitor the maids. They notice that the maid is not mopping. But they don’t directly point it out. Later when we complain, they tell us that they noticed too and that we should tell them. They also add that this is ‘dangerous territory’ and they don’t want to mess up with the female workers. After all feminists have taken over the planet right?! They may scream ‘harassment’ the moment the poor men raise their voice.
What if they did this at the workplace?
Enter office. See women.
‘Oh my God! Parayi auratein. Bhaago!’ (Oh my God! Others’ women. Run!)
No wonder the household helpers love working for the ‘Bachelor Bhaiyas’ who are nice and non-interfering. And we get to be the “Madam bahut chik chik karti hain’. (Madam is very nitpicky about our work)
You like to clean your way so I didn’t touch it!
Aww!! So thoughtful of you!
You redo my work anyway!
Try that excuse with your manager at work next time. ‘You review my deliverable and make changes anyway. So why put in unnecessary effort?!’
The baby does not come to me!
A friend of mine has a toddler. She and her husband are both working. However, the job of putting the baby to sleep invariably has been hers. Her husband’s excuse is that mothers naturally have a bond with a baby which the father cannot possibly have.
One day my friend blurted out, ‘You have to put in the effort! The way I do every day!’
I do not know where everything is kept!
Ladies, let us start a treasure hunt!
I have never done this before…
And I was born with a jhadoo in my hand…
But you are so good at it! I can’t match you!
This is the brahmand. The ultimate glorification! We are the superwomen! We have multiple limbs! We can do it all!
The grievance: Hamesha tension mein kyun rehti ho yaar! Chill! (Why are you always tense? Chill!)
How many of you have heard this from your husband:
Hamesha mooh bana rehta hai tumhara! (You always sit around with a long face!)
Guys! We don’t enjoy being tense. We have not done any courses in house management. A lot of us had nothing to do with household chores just like you before marriage. One fine day, we get these responsibilities and it is never ending. There is no holiday and there is no escape. It is overwhelming. It is there in the back of our minds. All the time.
Step up. You are great at office work. You will be great at household work too!
And fellow women! Please do not make your life more stressful than it has to be. The need to please, and the unnecessary guilt will not do you any good. Learn to let go. Lower your expectations. It is okay if your house is not as clean your sister-in-law’s. Stop judging others and stop getting affected by judgment. Your husband is more capable than you think. Let him share the load!
According to “Women of Tomorrow,” a 2011 Nielsen survey of 6,500 women across 21 different nations, Indian women were the most stressed in the world!
Not a compliment ladies! Don’t try to be a superwoman.
Superman is fictional. Why do you have to be for real?
Header image is a still from 2 States
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I like to write about the problems that have plagued the Indian society. I feel
Perfect..bang on! Just a little humble suggestion… Bramhand is Universe. You might be about to write ‘brahmastra’ and Autocorrect sucks, I know.
Haha. Thank you Monali. Autocorrect sucks and so does my Hindi! 🙂 In fact, Women’s Web has started publishing articles in Hindi and I really want to contribute. But my not so great Hindi holds me back. Thank you for pointing this out and glad to know you liked the article.
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