A Homemaker’s Guilt Is Real, Even As Her Work Is Never Done!

A homemaker's work is never done. And this scenario worsens when you are a mother because we all know and believe that a mother can never be at rest.

Yesterday when I sent off my daughter to school and husband to office, I did not move from the couch post my first cup of black coffee and an indulgent breakfast. As I sat there I completed a web series that I’ve been trying to finish for long, read a few pages from a book that I had left bookmarked to be completed and I also stood in my balcony garden staring aimlessly at the beautiful blue sky that had never been given so much attention before.

While I was enjoying an apparently light day at home a strange guilt kept gnawing at my heart-did I miss any of the chores? Is there really not anything that I have to do today? Can I really skip washing the clothes today? Should I really serve yesterday’s leftovers to my family today? While my husband or my daughter has no issues with me indulging in some much deserved break from household chores or in some much needed “me time” I cannot be at peace since I am so conditioned to the idea that as a woman, a wife and a mother I should constantly hustle.

A constant feeling of guilt

I wouldn’t be wrong if I say that this feeling of worthlessness often creeps into the minds of most home makers who cannot deny the emotions of being unproductive or unimportant due to their lack of a “job” at hand. Even though I have my own venture, a freelance writing job and also few training opportunities that help me earn my financial independence apart from keeping me occupied through the day there are days when idling at times makes me feel utterly guilty.

The fact that a homemaker is never alone (even in her thoughts) is often neglected. From dawn to past bed time she’s occupied with either tasks to be accomplished or planning for the next day or the following week. And in spite of having successfully ticked off all the tasks in her to do list she’s never appreciated the way a man would be if he were to partake in household chores- because we all know how the Indian society is constantly infatuated with the idea of a man “helping in household responsibilities” whereas the same doesn’t hold true for women. It’s a common notion that a woman is considered fortunate when her husband cooks for her whereas a wife cooking for her husband doesn’t seem that special. All these and more such factors are constantly making homemakers spiral into a deep dark well of worthlessness and shame for choosing to stay at home and take care of their family!

Unfortunately the twisted design of the Indian society perceives everything as black or white just as how people are considered employed or unemployed thus leaving no room for homemakers to fit into them. If simply put, employed is when you earn money and unemployed is when you don’t. One’s purchasing power definitely keeps their heads above the water and it is one of the harshest truths of life, however to demean the roles and responsibilities of a homemaker isn’t the right thing to do.

Having been on both the sides of this spectrum I now consider my responsibilities to have increased manifold as compared to what they were when I was a working woman-at least then I had a team to delegate my overfilled plate whereas at home I don’t have that luxury. And this scenario worsens when you are a mother because we all know and believe that a mother can never be at rest. This odd and dysfunctional attribute given to a mother needs to change even before we change our mindsets about a homemaker’s contribution in the societal workforce.

Can we all deny the efforts put in by our mothers?

I have witnessed my mother wake up before everyone else, start planning for the day, take care of us and my father; while our day started at work or his at office my mother’s would start at dawn preparing breakfast, tea, cleaning the house, washing clothes while keeping an open mind to plan for lunch, dinner followed by next day’s breakfast and school and office tiffin box. While she would single-handedly shoulder all of these activities her tea and breakfast would lay unattended for long often resulting in cold food that she ultimately had. However not a day would pass when either we or my father would be served cold food. Not to forget the times we fell sick or anyone else in the family did, my mother would selflessly take care of all of us with a smile on her face. But things weren’t the same when she fell ill attributed much to our incapability that we couldn’t take care of the home during those days just the way she did when needed.

As I am reminded of my mother’s role as a homemaker and her probable guilt of being “useless” I write this article while craning my neck a multiple times (thus interrupting the writing flow) to check if my washing machine has washed the clothes, the gas-stove isn’t overflowing with the lentils that are boiling right now or if the fish is thawed before I start preparing for lunch/dinner and tomorrow.

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In spite of all of these do I still wallow in self-pity or extreme guilt that I am unproductive or useless? Or do I console myself with the common notion that ‘a home is the reflection of the homemaker’ which might seem like a compliment on the surface but ultimately adds onto the unending list of expectations that a homemaker struggles to keep up to?

Published here first.

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

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