“So, what do you do?” … and I would go blank for good few seconds before saying, “I am a #homemaker”. This question had become the most dreaded question of my life. Didn’t say ‘housewife’, as somehow, I felt, that word didn’t have that uplifting ring to it. And the word ‘homemaker’, in a bizarre way, had this connotation that said, I was a housewife, but by choice. As if to corroborate that, I would almost hastily add, “Oh well, I am a journalist by profession otherwise, even though I haven’t worked actively in the field off late”. Maybe I needed to feel ‘counted’. Counted, as a valued asset of the society, earning member in a system which equates work with salary, failing which, the individual is rendered failed as well. It’s more so in the ever-changing socio-economic landscape of this past decade. With more girls getting higher education and more women heading for the formal workplace where the high skill and productivity is in demand, (this is taking into account only a certain section of the society, agrarian and rural populace and its female workforce is a different story), I do feel left out. However, to say that I don’t feel contended, wouldn’t be correct. Now I am comfortable in my space, no longer trapped in my need of being acknowledged. Despite that, there is this constant want to feel accomplished, especially when I juxtapose myself with the achievements of my contemporaries. They too had kids, they took care of them as well.
SO WHY DID I CHOOSE TO #STAY AHOME
Perhaps I was a bit more home bound. I realized that I can’t give 100 percent to either my job or to my child if I work. Being the kind of person that I am, it was anathema for me to even imagine that someone else is taking care of my child. Having a husband whose job kept him away from us for good chunk of the time (more often than not, it included Sundays too) didn’t help the matter either. That made it imperative for me to stay around my child all the more. I didn’t want him to grow in an environment where he would feel left out. Also, at that time, it felt that it wasn’t worth as to warrant the disruption it would cause the family.
Or perhaps, for me it was more important to make decisions based on fulfilment rather than survival. Making choices that aren’t lucrative are an attempt to live life on the terms of personal fulfilment rather than survival. For reasons, which can be agreed or disagreed upon, men are usually considered and hence become, the primary bread earner of the family, while female folks end up with housekeeping, childrearing responsibilities.
In order to feel ‘passively independent’ and yet manage their supposed prime roles as mothers and house managers, many a times, they end up working in the field that pays very poorly but gives them the warm fuzzies (like teaching or social work). I too have been advised by many of my friends to take up the job of teaching (while we move frequently with our better halves to places, not many would have even heard about, teaching is one profession which one can pursue everywhere- actually working/nonworking is second in line in the list of ‘decisions to be made’, the first one is to decide, to stay at one place and pursue your career and maintain a long distance relationship or to stay together and move frequently) in good faith. Their advice usually had the same content. “What would you do sitting at home the whole day, why not join the school nearby, at least you will get the pocket money.” I would politely refuse, for I knew, I didn’t have the teaching aptitude. It made more sense to ‘ruin’ (as they called it) my life rather than ruining the lives of a classful of children. My passion is ‘words’-to read, to write. Through this, I feel kindled, constructively engaged and satisfied. Nonetheless, while my son was small it all made sense but now that he is all grown up and in his teens, I have started questioning my need to stay home. I want to start over again.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM
A random work just for the sake of having a job seems pointless at this juncture. That would make sense only if it’s something that I love. In that respect, I couldn’t really care, if the job paid a bit less. Also, staying home leaves a certain hangover. So, may be a part time job is something what I would ideally look for. But now the question is, do we have enough such jobs?
I want to #restart, and ready to compromise on money but certainly not on quality. While I hunted for part time, I realized, quality was something that eluded that sphere of work. I am now looking for assignments as freelancer. Maybe I am fortunate to have a partner who earns enough and makes it easy for me.
But what about that huge pool of talent who chose to stay at home because circumstances needed them there, and now want to comeback in the work force, again due to circumstances or perhaps for recognition and sense of achievement. I wonder whose loss it would be if they do not find the job commensurate to their potential and talent!
PS.. This is my story . Having said what I have, I want to add that I have huge respect for all those women out there who have excelled/excelling in their chosen fields of work, while taking care of their homes and kids with utmost efficiency. YOU are excelling at something not many can!