Cultural differences

I’m a MOTHER

12:29 PM

Back in 2008 I once wrote a blog entry titled “No life without wife” which was pretty much about how courier companies, and repairmen take it for granted that there will ALWAYS be somebody home and that they can show up whenever, or not bother letting you know they showed up to find a closed door. I also added that joints families were only bound to become more and more common in the coming years and that a change in habits was in order.

This very article has been brought back to my memory just yesterday when I had a spat with the management of the common club house of my residential enclave. They have that highly discussable rule that states the whole staff goes on lunch from 12pm until 2.30pm and that during that time no one can use any of the clubhouse facilities (even though the doors are still opened). This becomes an issue for toddler moms like me, who have only one or two hours a day to hit the treadmill there. In my case Ishi goes to school at 11.30am and finishes at 1.30pm, efficiently leaving as only possibility to exercise for me the single hour of 11.30 until 12.30 as I need to fix lunch and have shower before picking her up. Yesterday was the first day I could hit the gym since taking the club house membership due to several factors, and no one mentioned anything about lunch breaks to us when we took the membership, and it is not written in any clear way other than one tiny line in fine prints at the middle of a sheet on the message board tuck away in a dark corner of the lobby.  
I got to raise the issue with the manager who simply refused to listen to me, telling me that he didn’t get what the big fuss was as I could come any other time, and leave my daughter at home to do so. I told him that I didn’t have any full time maid to do the job, and that it was ME who was on duty from 6am until at least 9pm on most days, with just this one freaking hour to just come and exercise. The guy’s response to my “I don’t have a maid full time’ was….wait for it….”Oh you don’t??????” On a properly puzzled tone as if he was just about expecting everybody to or have a hired help or live in a joint family set up.

So yes we are back to what I was writing 4 years ago, India still has this notion that there is someone at home at all time, and that in the event of a family living the new nuclear way they must necessarily have a full time maid to replace the family network support…SIGH!
With the grand arrival of nuclear families, the notion of dual income families also made its grand appearance, and with it the nasty trend to assume that the women who stay at home are doing…nothing! this last notion however has been picked up from the west, my mom has been told for the 10 years she didn’t “work” raising a family that she has basically been doing nothing.
And I for a fact find it rather ironic to see a country like India where a generation ago no one frowned much at seeing a woman stay at home, has now an increasing percentage in urban India thinking that a housewife or a stay at home mom  is pretty much having a leisure life, and that her time doesn’t particularly count, or if it does it counts as only a tiny fraction of the time of a “working professional”.

My maid regularly makes that assumption, that if she can’t come at 9.30am as decided she can just come in whenever she wants because me being a stay at home mom means I’ll be there, I had to correct her several time on that issue, and I’m still not sure she gets it fully other than she understands the absolute necessity for me to be out of the house to drop my daughter off to school and leave again to pick her up. Repairmen still don’t get why they should bother telling me at what time they would show up, courier companies don’t see why they have to keep their online tracking accurate enough so that I can plan when to stay home to pick up a parcel simply because they will not call me or leave a not if I’m not there, and that is for those parcels I am expecting because that is something I ordered mind you, I still have to perhaps consult the stars to predict when which credit card company, internet provider or what not will suddenly decide to send us something by courier (no regularity in their habits there to help me in my predictions).

The other moms at Ishita’s school all agree that they find it ludicrous that one should assume that we do nothing simply because our job is to stay home and take care of the kids, we do it by choice or by necessity, whatever the reason, we should be respected, but sadly our time is less valuable, and have to face such questions as “Are you working somewhere?” and when you reply rightly “Yes I take care of my kids” be told “oh so basically you just stay at home and don’t work”. When our status as SAHM has been established, it is apparently appropriate to ask one “So when are you going back to work” pretty much implying that while we are raising toddlers we aren’t doing anything productive.
Then there are the ones in the fashion world having come with pejorative words such as “mom jeans” “mom outfit” or “mom hair cut”, all having for distinction to describe a lack of style.
I find these even more insulting than the allusion to the fact we don’t work, mostly because it assume that we shouldn’t have any excuses to look frumpy because we are after all staying at home not working and yet here we are all wearing basic tees, and sturdy practical trousers with flip flops instead of a designer outfit and stilletos, and that eek with all the free time we are supposed to have we have nothing better than tie our hair up in the first scrunchy we found lying around.  
Flash news, the infamous mom outfit and mom hairdo is simply yet another professional attire, so unless you are going to make fun of ladies wearing pantsuits to office, or doctors wearing shapeless scrubs, please leave our basic tees and kurti alone!
When you are running after a budding Olympic sprinter the whole day long, being vomited on, splattered in food, on all four mopping a pee puddle, did  2 batch of laundry while dancing to a nursery rhyme your tot wants you to perform for him/her and spend the rest of the day or cleaning crayons off the walls or running errands with a kiddo strapped to your hip, tell me where exactly wearing an expensive shirt, a pencil skirt and designer shoes fits, leave alone an expertly done bun or cutting edge do that needs you to blow dry into place daily?
In pretty much the same way you would not suggest a corporate player to show up in his arena in sweat pants, stop saying that us as SAHM should sacrifice practical at the expense of fashion…that just won’t do.

Yes stay at home mom work, they work hard, they are on call 24/7, from the instant their kiddos wake up they are on duty, being whatever they need to be at any specific given time: chauffeur, cook, nurse, counsellor, teacher, tutor, play buddy, maid, repair woman, public relation agent, coach, confident…briefly put a MOTHER
The working hours are long, the job not always clean and glorifying (as in fishing a tiny favourite toy out of the toilet). Like any professional we keep day planners with all the special events, meetings, and tasks we have to absolutely remember along with the phone numbers of all the other moms of our darling little one’s friends to coordinate play dates and keep ourselves informed of events in the life of our tots we might have missed.

And yet some people think that because we stay home we have more time than those who go out to office and more, they feel the need to rub it in our face.
In this respect I think India is getting at par with the western countries there, they went from not batting an eye lid at a woman staying home, to just go on degrading the good names of SAHM the way my own mom had to be insulted back in the days.
But hey time to stop writing for me, and resume my day of nothingness: Waiting for a batch of laundry to finish washing so I can hang it, check Ishita’s ethnic outfit for stains as tomorrow they celebrate Republic day in school and all kiddos have to be in Indian wear in one or more of the National flag colour (luckily the one I already own is orange and teal which could pass as green), I need to fix us some lunch and have it ready by 1.20 because then I go pick her up in school and will go to the playground with her and then by the time we make it home god forbid her majesty has to wait more than the time it takes for the food to hit the plate or else I get a cranky meltdown, then it’s her nap time, and I need to fix a wardrobe door she yanked on and is threatening to come loose, and need to fix a post nap snack and figure out what to have the maid cook for DH’s dinner before hitting the playground again, and oh go get a few groceries and do a trip to the pharmacy….nothing really.

2 comments

  1. Oh totally agree. I have done both - been working mom as well as stay at home mom, and I would say going out to work leaving behind a baby is stressful on the mind, but being stay at home mom is more physically tiring. I lost 2 kgs each month I stayed home and ran behind my son :)

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  2. Wow I haven't lost that much weight, but I definitely noticed my body is more toned than before, and on certain days I feel some of my limbs aching and that's always on one of these crazy days where Ishi has been going on steady with crazy stunts the whole day, so yup I'm definitely falling in the physically active category of people :)

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