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Women have been ‘doing’ things for everyone else but themselves for ages now, and maybe we need to stop that and do things just for ourselves, too?
We all have lived quite a slice of our life by the time we enter our 40s. One could be a woman working outside the home, a stay-at-home mother, or a single, adventurous, mystery-of-a-woman. Either way, she has handled life’s curve-balls thrown at her from time to time, and come out with flying colors.
Yet, there’s a melancholic feel to her ‘me-time’, something that didn’t lurk around when the paraphernalia of marriage, relationships, children did not demand all her time. Where does the spring in a woman’s step go and why? With patience comes complacency too, and with tolerance, a certain level of tiredness. What brings it on?
A close friend of mine was once home by herself for a good week, with husband on his usual ‘work travel’ and daughter out on school’s educational trip. We met up only once towards the end of the week, and conversation steered to what did she do all along, by herself.
I assumed that she must have devoured book after book, being a voracious reader. Well, surprisingly, she spent the week alone, at home, doing nothing! Well, ‘nothing’ comprised of ordering take-out meals and watching endless chick-flicks. How empty that sounded, for someone who’s known to be always on her feet, running errands, and wonderfully managing time! In fact, she also runs her own clothing business where she has a steady stream of loyal clients. For such an enterprising woman, 24 hours shouldn’t even be enough, and here she was doing ‘nothing’!
What left me brooding over after this meeting was that, why do a lot of us don’t have a plan of action that revolves around us? Almost all my girlfriends are in the mid-30s to 40s. Everyone is utterly busy all the time, but most of it is mundane. And I have come to believe that, that is where the problem lies. We have accepted the mundane as an essential part of life. So much so, that we dread adventure, excitement, and the sense of achievement that these two elements bring.
So many women seem to say, “Oh, the vacation was great, but I couldn’t wait to come back!” and I wonder, come back to what? I know you can’t be on a 12-month vacation, but are we actually looking forward to coming home to the same mundane monotony? A place we call home, where the first priority is sorting kids and their schedule. Doing the same for the husband comes a close second. And finally, when the house is empty, we breathe a sigh of relief and grab that cuppa of coffee-turned-cold!
What is the excitement quotient of this situation every single day? Why do women cite that “I won’t have to enter the kitchen” as the no. 1 reason to take a holiday? And I am talking about the educated, urban woman here!
I have nearly come to the conclusion that being caught up in the mundane makes it lonely for us women. Actually, there’s a whole community of us out there who go through the same crisis (without knowing there’s one!), but only connect over online groups, WhatsApp, and rare coffee meets after kids go to bed and dinner is put up on the table.
I compare this with what the men do. Randomly plan a meet-up assuming that things at home are already taken care of. Who spoilt them for choice this way? I would say the entire upbringing in our society needs to undergo a change, but let’s not go there.
Let’s come back to making random plans without first going on a guilt-trip. The kids will be fine if Mommy lets her hair down with her friends at a pub. Find someone (ideally their father, but that’s not always an option) who can be trusted to take them on a long night. For me, it is my mother. Set up safety cameras at home, and lock the door when you go out, with specific instructions to older kids on staying safe indoors. If others judge you for that, so be it. Do all of this because you wanna have fun.
If you’ve outgrown your sabbatical, don’t feel timid to say so, and gather the courage to walk into a world of corporate responsibilities because you know you had always enjoyed your work so many years ago. Do it because you wanna see your cash registers ringing with your hard-earned money. Do it because you are alone all day until your family members come home to demand your time without once bothering to ask how your day was.
You’ve been through a phase of loneliness where you wanted to speak up, but thought about the argument that would ensue before your children, also because you had a point of view, but the inability to debate and hence no listeners. You felt lonely because you were in a crowd of over-achievers and pining to be in their shoes, but little ones had to be attended to. You felt lonely because you did it all for others, but no one asked you if you needed help in a way that they meant it. You got through sickness without someone bringing you a cup of hot tea at your bedside and deciding to take charge at home. You felt lonely because you wanted to have sex, but didn’t get any because things were not great at work and he wanted to just sleep it off. It is such mundane things that you kept doing on an automaton that made you lonely.
Perhaps, because you would be thinking all the time about what you want next, that’s going to make you feel great. You would be scouting job postings without giving a damn to who ate what? You would think about being enterprising, whether it is starting a small business or deciding to go ziplining on your next holiday, while others are waiting for you to get them a cup of tea and hot chocolate. You could be planning to watch an adult-flick with your girlfriends or going out to dinner with your work colleagues. If all this makes you feel good, then you shouldn’t feel bad about it, right? And just so we have it clear, this is not endorsing anything illicit or harmful that needs to be evaluated on a moral compass.
About time, you recognize that you don’t have a lot of time to do what you want to, so might as well do it now. And bid loneliness a good-bye!
Image source: YouTube
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Amita is a freelance writer and runs a personalized resume creation venture called Copytable. Based
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