Most married women, especially those who are mothers as well, face pressures of confidence at some point in time or the other. They have to battle the most pertinent question in life,whether to pursue a career or not.
Modern day women are portrayed as successful and worthy only when they can juggle a job and home. They must be doing well at ‘work’ and no one could care less if their home suffered. We are all conditioned to believe that “working” outside home is akin to being powerful and in control.
In our armed forces setup, most of us have very limited options to pursue a career. If you are married to a ‘ fauji’ and want to be co-located with him, you would have either given up your job and chosen to stay at home or probably picked up a job in the local school. Some may be even continuing to work from home.
But amidst all this, I am sure many of us do feel we are wasting our time, consider ourselves not living up to one’s own potential and are not happy with the situation we are in. This may be a genuine feeling but sometimes its because of the way the society, in general, is opinionated about women with ‘careers’ and women who are ‘mere homemakers’.
I use the word ‘mere’ only to highlight the general perception and not to demean a homemaker. If you are not doing anything to earn money then you yourself feel inferior to others ,leave alone the society and friends who make you feel so. I attribute this to our present social conditioning. For all such ‘sanginis’ among us, grappling with this wretched feeling of not being worthy enough and merely being at home, here is some food for thought….
If I quote my personal experience, while growing up, I saw my mother at home all the time, yet, she was her own person. She had full control of things and she ran our household like a professional. My father trusted her with every little thing. He was only earning money to make a living but every other need for life was being fulfilled by my mother. She was educated and could have taken up a job easily. But she did voluntary social work, worked for the cause of adult education, ran a kindergarten for the underprivileged children and also wrote poetry on subjects of social relevance. She did not earn a single penny out of any of these activities but she did them because she believed it gave her that purpose in life. She did not consider herself any less just because these were not labelled formal jobs.
I always saw her as a fiercely independent and confident woman who knew her mind.
I learnt early on that it was not about the traditional role of a man or a woman, that men will take on outside jobs and women will do the domestic ones. It is about who amongst the couple is capable of what and the mutual respect for each other to let the other do what he/she is good at.
This to me ,was a new school of thought of viewing a woman’s role in society. While it is very important for a woman to be educated but it is not necessary for her to take up a ‘job’. The lady has to be capable of rising to the occasion, if ever the need be, in life.
The point is to hone your skills and keep them ready for a rainy day. She should be able to support her family during an adversity. But otherwise, if there is no financial constraint, it should be a matter of personal choice if she wants do take up a job or not. It is about the inclination of the lady. If she has motherly instincts and wants to stay at home and nourish not only the children but the entire family, she should have the freedom to do it without feeling guilty.
Women themselves think less of their own self when they are ‘ homemakers’ or if for some reason they quit their jobs or are on a sabbatical. But why this inferior feeling when it is just about individual choice and what gives you a sense of fulfillment.Many find their purpose in life in doing something professionally and take up a formal job. It maybe for their own reasons.
When I started working, it was to have my own social identity and financial independence until I decided to call it quits for giving our daughter a better upbringing. It was when my maternal instincts took over, I decided to stay at home and do nothing. I really had no qualms taking the backseat and enjoying every bit of my time at home coupled with the bliss of motherhood. I gave up my job to be at home for that phase of our lives which I thought was crucial for our child’s upbringing. I had the freedom to take my own decision because of my firm belief in knowing what would give me satisfaction and happiness in life .
Our Indian society is still alien to the concept of a ‘house husband’ and there is less acceptance of couples/ families who have the man of the house looking after home while the lady earns them, their bread and butter. Abroad, if the lady is earning more than her husband and loves her job, many husbands opt to stay at home and look after the children just like we women do it and are known as ‘ house husbands’, also known as ‘Stay at home father/dad’.
The purpose of me driving across this point is to emphasize that its about the potential and propensity of the individual, wife or husband, to take on those roles which gives them contentment and is favorable towards the well being of the entire family. If the wife staying at home brings in stability to the family and gives peace of mind especially in the context of armed forces,then, as military wives, we should not feel bad about missing out on something in the world. You can take pride in being at home, looking after it and giving that unconditional support to your husband and raise his spirits by letting him know that you are there behind him like a solid rock, come what may.
I believe our ‘ brave soldier’ requires just that….an assurance that everything back home, especially his children are in safe hands and are being nurtured with utmost care. It sure helps him focus better on his job at hand.
So sanginis, don’t fret if you are a stay at home mom/ homemaker. Be proud of your capabilities and believe in yourself.
To sum it up poetically,
Having kept your career at bay,
You are special in your own way
Choosing to attend to your family,
Living your life, your way!
You are definitely a go-getter,
For it takes a lot to be a homemaker,
Ever smiling,cheerful and peppy,
Be confident and happy!
If you ever wonder if its worth it
Look for answers in your child’s eye..
You will find every bit,
Of what you seek to certify.
You are like this big tree,
Hold your head high with pride,
Live your life guilt free.
And take them all into your stride.
Be your own person
Success is one such perception
That needs no one’s validation
But your own conviction.
Take my word for it dear sangini,
I have ‘been there, done that’,
Be assured its no brickbat,
To play the role of a housewife!
–Mrs. Tejaswini Upadhyay
Former IAF officer. I have served in the technical branch of the IAF for 10 years.After which,I took release from service and have been a homemaker ever since.
Disclaimer: What I have expressed in this article is my personal take on this matter of whether women should pursue a career or not and it stems out of my own experience of having been on both the sides of the fence. Trust me, having been a working woman myself for a decade,I have nothing against ‘working women’. I believe that whatever role you don in life, it should be done guilt free and with full conviction.