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The Perils Of Being An Indian Wife/Mother!

Let's throw away the 'mother guilt' that we carry because of what is expected of us as the primary carers for our kids.

Let’s throw away the ‘mother guilt’ that we carry because of what is expected of us as the primary carers for our kids.

At times I secretly aspire to be a spinster in spite of being in a marriage for over a decade and being a parent for two years less than a decade!

Now whosoever hears this would either curse, cringe or crib and wouldn’t hesitate to measure my worth as a wife or a mother in their own acerbic ways.

However I wish to stand my ground and be firm about it too-for every time a brilliant spark of an idea hits my brain (for my long-lost literary pursuits obviously) it’s soon muffled and lost in either, “Let’s have dinner” or “Maa, find my drawing book!“

Now these are the moments when I ardently wish to be donned in an invisible cloak or vanish for good!

There are umpteen instances when I barely manage to complete a written sentence let alone finish a book. As they rightly say, the best way to draw your child’s attention is to sit down/lay down with a book in hand. All their queries, interrogations, doubts would pop in incessantly as if they have been knowledge deprived for long.

A recent interview between Padma Shri awardee Sudha Murty and actress/columnist Twinkle Khanna opened avenues to marriage and parenting. Apart from that it led to a barrage of questions that a woman must truly seek from her marriage or motherhood. However the best part of this interview was that it was  quite reassuring to know that a wife/mother need not go on multiple guilt trips when she’s minding her own business-it could be literally or metaphorically. A wife or a mother is just like other members in a household who is free to work, remain idle, read a book while the chores are waiting to be completed and all this must happen guiltlessly.

Many a times it happens that I leave my coffee to turn cold repeatedly because I find myself too caught up with other household chores; it’s not that my family always needs me around, there are times that my social conditioning is too strong to be beguiled by selflessness and the need for prioritizing my own requirements.

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The interaction between these women opened doors to discussions that are often a taboo- for instance Twinkle Khanna unabashedly announces how her husband, renowned actor Akshay Kumar often gets their daughter Nitara ready for school as the former finds it difficult to wake up early. She further adds it is obvious for her spouse to fulfill this responsibility as he wakes up first every day without fail. Twinkle Khanna doesn’t hide her amazement while chuckling, “Didn’t you want to murder your husband?” when Ms Murthy announces how Mr Narayan Murthy had never entered their son’s school as a parent for any PTM!

This interaction becomes quite exemplary when they unanimously claim how a mother/wife should keep herself busy in an activity/task/chore which is completely devoid of roles and responsibilities that she otherwise fulfills on a daily basis. This particular activity could be her getaway from the various domestic conundrums that she often finds herself in. They further emphasize that children look up to their mothers when she is busy or is working unlike the common belief that they feel neglected or even orphaned. This also sets the context that women are huge contributors to tasks beyond domesticity while at the same time breaks down stereotypes such as men should provide while women should nurture.

As I was watching this interesting conversation I realized how many times I have voluntarily or involuntarily involved in several guilt trips when I sat down with a book, or planned to sit down with my articles or simply idled away surfing television channels or even Instagram handles mindlessly. There have been times when I completely switched off from or drifted away from conversations with my husband or even my daughter and later wallowed in self-pity. However such thoughts are wrong and that perhaps needs to be normalized amongst all wives/mothers.

The constant and repeated emphasis here is on wives and mothers because they are the ones who are idolized and made to believe in a certain innate superhuman quality that they supposedly possess which actually is nothing but the biggest scam that we as women are bred into believing since childhood.

As the twenty five minutes video progressed and moved to the next one I kept wondering what might be easier for me might not be for other women. I might steal opportunities to finish a book, complete those articles, listen to some music while letting my hair down many wives or mothers may not be able to do so. But as they say tiny droplets make up an ocean similarly it is time that we all normalize taking breaks between chores, we normalize upsetting our children by asking them to play on on their own, we normalize making our husbands/partners wait for their next Chapati until we finish ours.

It is time that we let that pall of guilt wear off and most wives/mothers start taking life lightly wherein the load of familial accountability is shouldered equally by everyone in the household just as aptly put by late poet Kaifi Azmi in his poem, “Aurat”:

“qadr ab tak terii tarriikh ne jaanii hii nahiin
tujh mein shole bhii hain bas ashkfishaanii hii nahiin
tu haqiiqat bhii hai dilchasp kahaanii hii nahiin
terii hastii bhii hai ik chiiz javaanii hii nahiin
apnii tarrikh kaa unvaan badalnaa hai tujhe
uth merii jaan mere saath hii chalnaa hai tujhe…

(History has not known your worth thus far
You have burning embers too, not merely tears
You’re reality too, not a mere amusing anecdote
Your personality is something too, not just your youth
You’ve to change the title of your history
Arise, my love, for now you must march with me.)

Image source: shutterstock

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About the Author

Joyadrita

A dire penchant for words, can summarize my life as “My pen bleeds my life”! read more...

45 Posts | 98,346 Views

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