To Be Or Not To Be Home? – By S. Khan

With none other than pretty woman, and pretty successful, Julia Roberts admitting she rather cook dinner for hubby Danny Moder than run between studios, and perhaps make babies in place of movies, the little demons and goblins who have been making intermittent appearances on my mind’s 70MM screen, have begun to haunt me full time now.

Was I better off as a house wife who timed the chopping of her beans and tomatoes with the never ending soaps on the telly? (Really, it was either chop or watch and must confess I watched more than I chopped).Or am I better off putting my education to use, proving my worth, earning a pay cheque, not to mention the respect of my colleagues and some well deserved appreciation at home as well?

Referring to Ms. Robert`s wishful preference to home over work, The
Times of India, Sunday edition (November, 23) asked: Is this the backlash that feminist writers like Susan Faludi and Naomi Wolfe have been warning us about? Do women, as Betty Friedan points out, love being the housewife-heroine rather than the corporate climber? Has reverse feminism taken a hold? Are women essentially home-bodies?

I am puzzled.

I have been asking myself a lot of questions of lately (even before Ms. Pretty Successful made her confession) and have only been confronted by more doubts dwelling in other ladies` minds, thank God for small mercies. They face the same dilemma as me so I am back to chowk, err I mean, square one.

Why does the grass always appear greener on the other side? Why did I envy my sister-in-law, the 9 to don’t-know-how-late/free-from-all-domestic-chores working woman while I begrudgingly changed diapers and prepared feeds?

Why do I envy my sister who has the appearance of a saint…calm, poised and composed…as if she has attained nirvana in this life itself while I am always in a hurry, perpetually in motion, forever multitasking away from the computer, spinning like a top, a Ms. Heels on Wheels?

Why does stepping out of the house spell frustration and guilt?
Frustration for being hard pressed for time, being tired to the marrow and finding 24 hours too short to finish the work and sleep a blissful full night’s sleep.

Guilt for not being with the children when they need you the most, for having both hands full when they need just that little bit of attention, for working on their holidays (How can your boss be so stupid? Doesn’t he know mothers should be with kids on a holiday? questions my five year old.)

Then there are comments. From fuddy duddy aunties. When you excuse yourself early from a party you are reminded without fail: Oh! yeah, working woman,na……………ok, go, go!

Gosh! Look at you! Reduced so much? Han, dohri mehnat karni padti hai na……… And comparisons. Hashmi saab ki bahu ko dekha? Kaisi hashash bashash khili khili si lagti hai. Tumhe kya hua?

Well, Hashmi Saab`s bahu in question does look chikni and contented fresh from the parlour all made up like a doll despite the lard and her dozen odd chicks. (And here I am cursing my beautician under the breath for postponing my facial.)

But what the heck! I bet my last aching bone that my house at any given point of time, be it day or night, is a lot less messier, with fewer cobwebs and cockroaches and their andey-n-bachey! And a lot more organised, clean and comfy and cozy enough for father-in-law to settle down for a snooze long after the plumber has left after a repair job.

And my girls are better behaved (at least while partying!) than all the other girls at the party raising hell around their mamas. And my husband can discuss any topic under the sun with me and not bury his nose behind a newspaper or indulge in a man-to-man talk away from the home. And I pride myself for that just as so many other women out there! Hashmi Saab`s bahu be damned!

But seriously, managing home was never an easy job. Contrary to popular perception it is a full time job…a thankless job. Compounded with office work, it becomes that much more difficult. Managing home and office is draining on your body, nerves and emotions. I wonder how its called a `seamless integration` if I may quote, Motorola Honcho, Padmashree Warrior unless of course you have a solid support system to bank upon.

I have to thank my stars and the entire galaxy for having my parents, parents-in-law, husband, maid, school van driver and an understanding and accommodating boss who make this `seamless integration` seemingly possible for me. But how many women out there are blessed enough to have such support?

Despite this solid backing, I am left gasping and panting for breath…quick on my feet and taking decisions before you could flick your mascara-ed eyelashes. It all leaves my father dazed and amazed. He cannot fathom how his once dreamy eyed, forever sleeping daughter (He once asked me to put in `sleeping` as a hobby) constantly dances on her toes to get things moving.

Then there is the equation with the husband. All the ladies that I spoke to put their husbands on hold till the weekend.

“Otherwise, the entire schedule goes haywire”, said one.

“Can`t get up and get going early morn next day”, chimed another.

“Who has the energy to wait till the kids go to sleep”? added yet another.

So while the metrosexual husbands are inculcating patience by virtue of majboori, wives are becoming restless and snappy.

When yours truly snaps at her brood every five seconds, mother knows what’s troubling her. “Leave the girls with me…you two go out and take a break”, she says.

I thought only mothers knew your moods and your mind like the palm of their hands. Experience tells me that husbands do so too. At least when it partly concerns them.

Finding me at my hollering, screaming best, hubby said the other night, “I know what exactly ails you and I even have the right medicine for it!”

“Thanks, but no thanks chum,” I said.

“Winter gives me the chills. I hate washing ma hair so early in the morning!”

So should I watch and chop or get up and get going?

I think I will get up and get going at least till osteoporosis, spondylosis or some such sis gets the worst out of me.

What say you?

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