What is a homemaker’s job? What does her child write next to the column ‘mother’s occupation’ while filling up forms for varied purposes? The question is whether her work is one that deserves mention or whether it can be just ignored because it is an unpaid one. The homemaker, who in most cases is a woman does not often get the accolade or recognition that she deserves. For all the household work she performs throughout the day, she is not awarded with a certificate at the end of her training period or a promotion and a pay hike for extraordinary performance if any. While filling up a form for a certain course in a reputed university, I could find only 6-7 options while scrolling down the list to mention my mother’s occupation. She is neither a PSU employee nor does she do a government service. None of the options could appropriately define what she actually does and I had to settle for the N/A option. So, by clicking on that option did I mean that her occupation does not match certain given criterias and hence it is redundant and not applicable under the given circumstances?
Women until a few years ago were only meant to take care of the domestic sphere and maybe some were only allowed to have a private enterprise like a boutique or a beauty parlour of their own. Even today many families do not want their girls to venture out into the hustle and the bustle of the competitive world, citing many reasons. Sometimes her delicate constitution is put forth as a legit reason while at other times she is termed as the ‘pride of the house’ and she can retain the pride by being in a pedestal and letting the men do all the drudgery. Now the pertinent question is whether the woman too is made to indulge in that same monotone and drudgery but in a different condition. The answer is yes and hence, nobody can question her contributions in keeping the family together and making them survive even if she does not make monetary contributions as such.
Often the choice of being a homemaker is vested upon an individual. Yes, that did sound like a paradox but the truth is often so with choices being decided at the disposal and discretion of others. Even if the decision is not ones’ own, yet the homemaker’s job and role in the betterment and well being of the family needs to be accounted for and recognized in forums both inside and outside the domestic sphere. Taking care of the household is no easy job. One has to be extraordinarily skilled in certain aspects to ensure its smooth sailing endeavours. Other members of the family come up with excuses that they have their tasks cut out and do not have the time to clear up the mess of piling clothes and fold and keep them in a wardrobe. There are also some who would like to depend on the mother/wife to even get themselves a cup of tea or coffee.
The going gets even tougher for some working women whose husbands or children are not willing to co-operate with them in household activities. The woman is expected to prepare a breakfast, arrange clothes for an office-bound husband and school-bound children. Then she needs to assimilate her belongings, take her meal and in most cases after seeing off her husband and children make her journey to her workplace. This instance though cannot be treated as a universal situation but definitely it cannot be seen as one of a kind. Thus working women play the role of a professional employee at workplace and the multi-faceted homemaker at home. She gets paid for the former while the latter in most cases tantamounts to a thankless job without any remuneration. The popular notion is that it takes no special talent or skill to manage a household. To keep an eye on the monthly ration. To cook good and healthy food. To ensure the smooth working of every other miscellaneous item besides other things. It has to come naturally to a woman and it is her primary work and everything else is just an additional bonanza.
In erstwhile Victorian society in England, married writers with a family were often not considered as serious writers and some of them even failed to make the cut as a commendable player even among women authors of their age. So does domesticity mean that the person concerned is not equipped enough to do anything else besides household? Does it raise a question on her credentials in managing affairs beyond the four walls of the house? Can’t she aspire to be a success in both the domains if she desires both? Maybe both the British society and societies all over the world have moved beyond these Victorian notions and stereotypes but we can’t claim that such mindsets are all but over. Therefore, we as a society and most importantly a progressive one, as we claim ourselves to be, should take an initiative to show such multi-faceted homemakers in a positive light. By treating them with the accolades and respect that they deserve, we can actually end up honouring our near and dear ones and giving them their rightful due.