‘Share Some Load, Please!’
The very basic of love is… Carrying half her (mom’s/wife’s) burden, when her back is bend from too much of it…
It was a Sunday morning. Warm and early and bright, I woke up feeling headachy and grumpy. My bones cried out in protest. My body begged for another hour in the comfy mattress, but duty called, loud and shrilly — duty called. I unknotted myself from the blanket and wiped the sleepiness away from my tired eyes.
Hours passed and my family slowly, deliriously, happily woke up from their slumber. I had long since cleaned the house, wiped away the dirt from the shoes, and finished the breakfast.
They ate with happy chatter and no one noticed that I wasn’t participating in their conversation. I was again put in the kitchen… To clean the dishes. My daughter helped me with wiping them dry and arranging them, as my hubby and son lounged in the couch watching cricket.
When lunch preparation started, I pulled out the laundry basket with a desperate sigh. My tired body was now completely worn-off. What a life, I thought to myself, what a tiresome life!. I called out to my daughter, who was busily doing her homework — with music pounding in the background– and asked her to help me.
She dubiously looked up and then shakes her head. ‘Nah!’
Glittering diamonds, of course, make her smile… Glittering dishes, washed by you, will have the same effect…
I was shocked, angry. She had never said no. I was going to scream at her, was going to say things I’d regret later, but she stopped me and pointed the two men still watching cricket.
“Why can’t he? Why had he never? I am doing school work. He, not. So why ever he can’t? Why do you never ask him or dad?”
I went quiet. What she had asked made sense.
Why did I never ask them to help with household chores?
I believed in equality. I thought of myself as a woman who is open-minded, smart, free from the ties of the society. How wrong I was!
Love is… Not only gifting roses and chocolates… It is washing clothes and helping her dry it when she’s tired…
I go to job, I am paid the same as my male colleagues. I was given the equality I had asked for, outside. But… Inside my own house, I was just another woman who had confined herself to the gender prejudices. Who had confirmed the preconceived opinion of what’s women’s job and what’s men’s.
It shamed me. I might have, possibly, fed the prejudice to my young son. Fed it to my daughter. They might have become another generation imprisoned by the society’s prejudice.
“Go,” I waved my daughter off.
“You’re not calling him, are you? Mom, you…” She stopped as she saw me smile.
“I am not washing anymore.” She looked puzzled. “I am going to show them why they can’t enjoy cricket and ask us to do the works all alone.”
The next morning, my hubby had his favorite –unwashed– shirt. He might have noticed the stain in the collar first, or the the paper poking out of his pocket. As I expected, my son walked in with his wrinkled tie and with a small note saying to go and see his dad.
My daughter and I watched as the drama unfolded.
He who helps his wife with the household chores is the one who truly cares, and madly loves… He who helps his mom with little works is the one who truly respects and adores…
“Why do I have to see you now dad?”
“I got this and a dirty shirt.”
“A letter? What in the world? My tie is wrinkled, dirty and I am late for school.”
“I think… This is about your tie and my shirt. Lets read…”
Dear men of (in) my life,
A story, I want to tell you both… To understand… It’s about time I tell it. It is about time to change the rules of this house, its working orders… It’s about time to shatter gender prejudices.
It’s a story about a woman… Who toiled hard and long, and died of heart disease. It’s the story about my mom, your mother-in-law/granny.
We were young, me and my two brothers. Young and playful and we used to run wild and free. And dirty.
My papa would be reading a newspaper, and mama would be in the kitchen, sweating, preparing dinner, as we’d run in after playing, streaked with mud and dust. Even amidst the cooking, mom was the one who had to put off her dinner preparation for tidying us up. She was the one who should remove our dirty clothes, pile it inside a bucket filled with soapy water and wore new dress and shirts to us.
She would be sick, but still, the next day, she was the one who had to wash the clothes. We were poor then, had no machine to do the laundry. With back pain, she washed… Washed and was never properly thanked.
We could see the tired wrinkles in her hand, her wary sigh, her pale face, smell the pain reliever from her… But we never bothered.
It had never occurred to ask why papa couldn’t close his newspaper and clean us instead. It had never occurred to thank mama for all that she had done.
Perhaps, we believed that it was mama’s job to wash, to cook, to clean… Perhaps, it had been thrust upon us, that belief, that mamas are supposed to do the laundry, to do everything inside home. Even when they’re sick to their bones.
We were a part, only a miniscule part of a society, that treats a wife, a mother as an unpaid housemaid. We were amongst thousands of children, who grew up believing in that prejudice. It simply wasn’t done then, to ask papa to do the job instead mama.
I can still remember my brother coming home from college, bringing a big bag full of dirty laundry. I can see the smile in his lips as he threw the bag in the floor and ask mama to wash it for him. It was all lovingly done, that I couldn’t blame my brother. He did what he was taught to do — giving what’s only a women’s job to a woman.
I can visualize the patient look mama wore as she picked up the bag and cleaned it for him. She had never asked him to do his chores… She had never refused to wash his clothes for him… Perchance, she believed the prejudices herself.
Perhaps, she was the reason we were made to believe that prejudice… Perhaps, if, she had thought of a way to make us understand how it was not only her job, but also our dad’s, ours, we would have seen it otherwise. We would have, at least, grudgingly, helped her. But she never did.
Now, as I see you, coming to me for cleaning your clothes, for ironing your tie, I can see… I can see I am doing the same mistake my mom had done, my son. I am doing the same mistake your dad’s mom had done.
And it’s not a great feeling!
My son, you would, later, believe that it is your wife’s job to launder, to clean. You’d wake up and expect your clothes to be clean, ironed without any wrinkles… You’d bring your lunch box back from office and expect her to clean it for you… And if its not done, you’ll question your wife’s skills, her competence.
I would not be responsible for that! I would not be responsible for making you believe the prejudices as the way my mom did so to me and my brothers. Your dad’s mom did so to him and his brothers.
I will happily do the work, but, it, no longer, is about just the work. It’s not about how difficult the job is… It is about how you help me with the simplest of chores… How you don’t sit and watch a movie as I toil with the washing machine and occasionally visit the kitchen to see if the chicken isn’t overcooked.
It’s about your consideration. Your conscience poking at you when you see me tired and sick. It’s about your love, about breaking preconceived notions. About equality.
And… Yes. It’s all about sharing. They say, SHARING IS CARING.
So, SHARE SOME LOAD, PLEASE, AND MAKE ME FEEL LIGHTER…
They didn’t say anything as they walked out of home. My hubby in another shirt, my son wearing a wrinkled tie. It made me feel terrible, but then, it had to be done.
My son wouldn’t grow up to be another man who wants his wife to wait on him… To service him…
That night, my daughter cleared the dining table and my son and hubby did the dishes.
The next Saturday, they helped me with the laundry. The laundering I once hated doing had become a laughter filled, happy occasion.
My eyes and heart were filled. With happy tears and love… As my son blew the soap bubbles at me and said,
“We really love you mom…”
To all men…
‘Don’t just buy us roses, to show your love. It has lost its true scent. Dry the clothes we wash, instead, and show us your love… With the sweet scent of Ariel…’
I am joining the Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign at BlogAdda and blogging about the prejudice related to household chores being passed on to the next generation.