It’s International women’s day today and there’s heated discussion all over social media on whether or not it should be a celebration. Since this blog is on motherhood, I am not going to get dragged into that conversation; instead, I’d like to acknowledge that motherhood has taught me so much about being a woman.
I’m really surprised that the society world over, is essentially patriarchal. I mean, this immense, amazing power that women have, the power to create, is next to only God. Shouldn’t that have automatically made us the more powerful one? 😛 Anyway, I digress, that isn’t the point of this post.
I found out really early that I was pregnant pretty much by the missed period and morning sickness. It affected me so much that even the thought of entering the kitchen would make my stomach churn. My husband didn’t so much wait for me to ask him, he took over the kitchen and pretty much every aspect of the dull household chores that I usually took care of. Every morning I’d wake up to a glass of fresh coconut water, followed by fruits and whatever else I could eat. He would have his breakfast in a different room so that the smell of eggs wouldn’t bother me. My lunch was packed, dinner was cooked, boy was I pampered. And do you know what it made me feel like? Privileged. And the moment it did, I found the ridiculousness of the situation. Did my husband ever feel privileged that I took care of all these things on a daily basis?No, he didn’t. So why was I feeling so?
Because unfortunately, that’s what I am. We share equal responsibilities in the house; some days he cooks, some days I do. But how many women get that opportunity?
The moment I realised that there were some (very minor) complications in my pregnancy, I decided, I’d quit my job in Bombay and shift to Calcutta to stay with my parents. It was a huge decision for me as I have been independent for a long time and I’d lose it for a long time, I knew, but I was scared and didn’t overthink it. Being pampered in my house during my entire pregnancy again made me feel privileged. Because I mean, how many women get the opportunity to just sit at home, taken care of, and be pregnant? My mum gave birth and raised 4 children, managing the entire household in the process. She didn’t get half the facilities that we get today. My sister worked until her 9th month. I have no idea how these women do it. I was so tired all the time, even when I literally had nothing to do. Would I have been able to do it? I don’t know. If I had to, I’m sure I would have.
All the posts on FB keep celebrating the hardships women go through. It does need to be acknowledged but an ideal woman is projected as the martyr; who sacrifices everything for the sake of the others. What kind of standard is that? And by that definition, I suppose I am not a woman enough since I refused to go through the ‘hardships’ and took the easy way out. Why is it an accepted thing that despite carrying a child in the womb, a woman would continue doing all the hard work of the household, because that’s what women do, and rave about the man who serves his wife breakfast when she’s sick?
I have seen that women can be extremely patriarchal. My elder sister was the first amongst us siblings to have children and when my brother in law took over the task of putting his daughter to sleep and generally take care of her potty and bathing etc, most women praised him, but there was censure in their tone. Is this a man’s job? My sister must be a failed mother; she doesn’t know how to take care of her child and that is why the poor man has to do everything, they said. These women have slowly started to accept the fact that he or the other sons in law take care of their children because they want to, and that’s not a reflection on our capabilities as mothers. But it has been a long journey.
I remember how people raved about my husband not leaving my side, sleeping in the hospital on a couch and being my nurse, delivery and afterward. I don’t want to sound petulant and I was so glad he was with me but I am his wife and I delivered his child; isn’t it normal for him to want to stay with me? Would anyone have said anything if I stayed in the hospital had my husband been sick? I guess not. I am privileged.
This constant need to prove our capabilities as a woman, as a mother, this sense of gratification whenever the male partner does something, needs to stop. We have lowered our expectations from men so much that whenever they do something that has an EQ, we go gaga over it. I can’t be expected to be treated equally if I don’t see myself as an equal. We need to stop making it a big deal. It should be a big deal because the person you love is doing these things out of love for you and not simply because he is a man. This women’s day, let’s try and accept that men have emotional quotients too. However, let’s not forget that all this love and support I have received from the men in the family is because I am privileged and most don’t get even this much from their partner.
So here’s a thank you to my mother, my sisters, my daughter’s ayah (whose husband left her for another woman and had to work and raise her daughter alone and got her married, saving every penny she could manage), my husband and my darling daughter Thea Nalini. I have learned to not to judge myself harshly on whether or not I am the ideal mother, the wife, the woman because of you. I am me.