It could almost have been a perfect day. The silence was golden and jalebis were winning over a workout. Reality though hit sooner than an advertisement in a cricket match. The mosquitos were jobless after the dengue season, it was the calm before the kids-came-back-from-school storm and Azam Khan’s cows probably made less noise than the chaos on the street outside.
Life less unordinary you could perhaps only find in a speech by Rahul Gandhi.
I am a stay at home mom and can already see the career hardened, job disheartened dismiss me.
Some though would love to be in my shoes or rather the stilettos that I presumably wear for kitty parties.
The rest of you probably think your shift will be over before I can even dust off my intellectual cobwebs.
The Dilemma Over a Name: Housewife or Homemaker?
It does add up though because, if you’re a housewife, then the world is your oyster or rather your kitchen – as cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s ex wife Reham was made to believe.
Or so she told us.
And if you live in the world of Balaji films, then of course, you even cook in your wedding finery and wear so much sindoor that the Rs200/kg dal not very mysteriously has a red tadka.
(Not everyone can do a Smriti Irani, change overnight from a demure bahu into an angry ‘Bharat Mata’ roaring minister.)
But things have changed, so I have been told vehemently.
For starters, we should no longer accept being called a housewife. “It is an insult!” an angry stay at home mom pointed out. (I did try and tell her the option was hers but that was like forcing her to not accept a lottery prize.) She delivered the Oscar-winning alternative of (gasp) ‘homemaker’, probably meaning to say with great bitterness – “we make their home and unmake our own lives”.
The Bitter Pill of Compromise
I, on the other hand, would actually be happy if someone just pronounced my name correctly and without adding ‘ji’. That does make me feel a bit like well-fed Mrs Khurana next door.
For plenty of us, doing what we do (and on the outside I suspect it looks like not much) is not actually a choice. It is a compromise, because we do give up careers and dreams. Bitterness is a pill best swallowed alone, because what isn’t changing isn’t going anywhere. Neither are the birthday parties.
But surprisingly, we do have friends who are not always at play dates and we also know that ISIS is not some new organic vegetable.
So we bolt after school buses (although by the time we strike the lightening pose the bus is almost at the school gates), re-learn those dreaded maths theorems and drive like a maniac through the traffic to take our child from class to class. Your fight against the corporate glass ceiling is child’s play compared to the competitiveness of ten-year- olds and their tiger moms!
Don’t judge us too hard, our coffee break is still around the corner.
Of Myths Around Us – and Their Debunking
Miracle women that we are, we do not spend the rest of the time labouring by the proverbial stove. Rabri Devi may have been named for a reason, but even in a country of a billion it is an anomaly.
Nor do we go brandishing a duster cloth on every visitor. Sometimes our husbands cook and give us the day off. But we still remain one season behind in Games of Thrones because sometimes, ‘free time’ just isn’t enough time.
We aren’t all drama queens, nor do we all make a mountain out of a cake. We are just as hardworking – or not – as the rest of you. Some days are good, some days could have been good. It’s all apples and oranges.
But we hope to be back.
Just as soon as our children can set us free. Or if we are the real Modern Family, when our husband decides to be a sit at home dad.
Until then, look at us with disdain or pity, the pleasure is all ours. 20 years later, when you are still cursing your boss, we will be smiling at a job well done.
(Jyotsna Mohan Bhargava is a former journalist who now divides her time between blogging and being a full time mother. Tweet to her @jyotsnamohan)