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In defence of housewives

Sunday, September 26, 2004

There was a time when I would look down on anyone who called themselves a ‘housewife’. The term immediately conjured up images of someone who simply wasn’t interested in life anymore - a lazy bum who spent their waking hours cooking and watching daytime telly. Someone who had no ambition, no drive, desire or self-esteem. In those days I was a hotshot career woman working in a fancy television channel and I could afford to have this stereotypical, holier-than-thou attitude.But years went by and my family grew. Now, I have consciously chosen to put my career on hold to raise my family. To spend time with children. To not juggle career and home life. To not make a martyr of myself by trying to do it all. Sure, there are women out there who manage to run a career and be a mother. I’m just not one of them. So now, I am something I never thought I would be - a housewife. And guess what? It’s my choice.

People think I no longer have an ambition or drive or desire to do something. Of course not. There are so many things I do in my day and so much more I plan for. I ran a marathon last year and plan to do a triathlon next. Isn’t that ambition? I take care of my son in way that no nursery or crèche can do. Doesn’t that count for much?When I examined my motive for working (in an office), two things came up – working because we need the money and working because it gave me a lot of satisfaction. About money, my husband and I decided to live cheaply by cutting down on unnecessary expenses. In any case, what I’d earn and what I’d pay in childcare, I’d be left with little at the end of the day. As far as satisfaction goes, I’m clear in that nothing can ever equal the satisfaction of being there for one’s child.Sometimes I think that being a mother is not valued enough in this world. There is no salary, no promotion, no holidays, no weekends, no retirement, no pension, no job-title and sometimes, no recognition. How I would love introduce myself as a ‘stay-at-home mother’ and not feel sorry about it. Writing this piece is my own form of catharsis. Yes, I feel good now. I’m a housewife and proud of it.


Twin-Gemini said…
Well said! The role of a mother or a housewife is perhaps the most under-appreciated one. The achievements of a mother/housewife shows up in the career of her husband or in the achievements of her kids, maybe thats the reason why they say, behind every man's success, there lies the hand of a woman!
Jupe said…
Beautifully written post...All the money in the world would not equal my mom waiting at the doorteps and enquiring about my day at work...Housewives, nay homemakers, rock...
saranyan said…
truely moved ammani. my sister has given up her career to raise her kid, I know how much sacrifice she has done and will do in the future.

Hats off to you.
Priyamvada_K said…
Hi Ammani,
I too stayed at home for 2 years to raise my daughter. Felt that money can be earned later, but my child's tender years will never come back. Wanted to stay home until she was 3, but circumstances changed and I had to enter the workforce.

I've never regretted my decision to stay home with her - those years are precious! Hold your son close and enjoy his growing years.

P.S: Thanks for visiting my blog. The "wait for sibling" story is real, not fiction :)
Anonymous said…
What's so new about it all ? This is what you are supposed to do if you are a woman, we've been told for centuries. And this is what women used to all those centuries. And, why do you have to defend yourselves ?

And, how could anyone say the role of mother/housewife is underappreciated ? Look at all those women's mags you've been reading. And they will tell you how precious is a mother for society, the hand that rocks the cradle... etc.

reading your post, i understand one thing. that the old timers were right when they insisted that girls needed no education. in that way, they will never waste their energies in defending themselves for doing what they are expected to do.

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Married for 31 years, 2 months and 17 days
Six cups coffee a day, brewed everyday of marriage
Three meals a day,
At least two dishes cooked, each meal-time
One snack for every Sunday
Big basket of clothes ironed every Tuesday
Average 18 items of clothing washed per day
Three children
1 miscarriage
One mother-in-law suffered
900 sq metre of floor space mopped, once a day
One caesarean endured
3 chicken poxes, 2 measles, 2 fractures, 8 diarrhoeas, depression, conjunctivitis every summer, 1 tonsilitis and countless common colds and flues
1 job held for 29 years
6 hours slept every night
Sex tolerated every 2nd week
Religious rituals everyone of them, carried out
Not one of them, believed in
Lived 52 years and some
Died exhausted

Overheard, “At least she had the satisfaction of having lived for her family”

The Saturday Poem

Found this in yesterday's paper. Again, I wish I'd written it.


Now and Then

"Now that I'm fifty-seven",
My mother used to say,
"Why should I waste a minute?
Why should I waste a day

Doing the things I ought to
Simply because I should?
Now that I'm fifty-seven
I'm done with that for good."

But now and then I'd catch her
Trapped in some thankless chore
Just as she might have been at
Fifty-three or fifty-four

And I would say to her
(And I have to bite my tongue)
That if you mean to learn a skill
It's well worth starting young

And so, to make sure I'm in time
For fifty, I've begun
To do exactly as I please
Now that I'm thirty-one.

-Sophie Hannah

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It cannot be easy being you. A follow-up act to your more devilishly charming, flamboyant older brother. Before you were born, I was convinced that no child could ever take the special place your brother had come to occupy in my life. I used to argue with your father you would always be a second-born. A runner-up. A bridesmaid (or a best-man, as you turned out to be). That you could never be the prized, cherished, celebrated apple of my eye that my firstborn child was. But how easily you tore down my flimsy little conviction. The minute I saw you, I knew I was gone. What was worse, I succumbed willingly.

My fears that you would be overshadowed by your brother have proven unfounded. Over the past year, you have come into your own as a person. Your brother demands and challenges our love and attention. You, on the other hand, are much more accepting of our distractions with him. It is almost as if you understand that he is used to being the star of the show for much of his…

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Annon's story

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After marrying Padmavathi, he is inviting all of you to a water drawing ceremony at the new well they dug in their house.

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