Whatever was meant to be the zeitgeist of our times has been suddenly seized by this enforced isolation for our own self-preservation, and that of our loved ones. This intruder has laid open a lot of affairs that we were content to nudge under the carpet and completely ignore. One of the chief such issues was the ungainly portion of household chores that the mothers of our homes had had to unassumingly shoulder while keeping all other tasks going on, on point.
Closing in on Mother’s Day, it is interesting how even on this occasion most of our society will rely on some mother or the other to celebrate the day with their own Ma. But the times...they are a changing; here’s how...
Ma means Most Able – but why the only one?
“I never had paid any attention to the amount of household work that we took for granted that my wife would manage since the time of our marriage. For that matter, I’m sure none of us had paid any heed to how much work my mother and other women relatives did at home as well as outside,” wonders Hyderabad-born, Pune-dwelling IT manager Shantanu B. Since the lockdown has been in force, Shantanu and his teacher wife have been working from home and this time has been a game changer.
After observing just how swamped his wife was, he had decided to pitch in with the household chores since the second week of the isolation. While there are certain tasks that he still is happy to palm off to her, such as changing the diapers of their 10-month-old toddler and putting her to sleep, he no longer thinks twice before cleaning up the house or the utensils after meals or even getting the meals started with clear directions from his wife. “There is only so much a person can do,” Shantanu admits, “and she has been doing a lot more than her share for quite a while, just as is the case with tonnes of women (especially our mothers) across the world, I’m sure. It’s just that such can no more be the case on my watch!” he has decided now.
Fathers get Mothers
This thought has crossed minds of men since the time society has decided that bulk of the household work has to be borne by the womenfolk. Homemaker Manjari definitely thinks so. “When I was in the 6th standard and we lived in Jorhat, Assam, my mother fell violently ill – first with malaria and then dysentery. Baba was a tea garden manager and I don’t remember him ever having helped at home,” reminisces she. “It was the monsoon season and our household maids could not come on most days. While Ma would do her best to get us all our meals, the truth of her failing health wasn’t lost on Baba.”
She describes how her Baba began to rise from sleep earlier than them all everyday to get the house in order and prepare breakfast and lunch. “When the neighbours and relatives came to hear of these proceedings, he was jeered at. It made no difference to Baba though; as a father he simply had understood my Ma’s situation and threw his all behind her. We didn’t celebrate Mother’s Day in those days – if we had, I would have made merry with both of them since they both were essential in mothering me so well,” Manjari says tearfully.
Nowadays with celebrity bloggers and actors, like Karanvir Bohra writing extensively about co-parenting his twin daughters along with wife Teejay Sidhu, and the longstanding unusual pair of Archana Puran Singh and Parmeet Sethi, wherein the later took charge on the household front when the wife soared in the high skies of success, standing proud in the eyes of the society – the winds of change are seemingly getting stronger than ever. Men are not averse to getting their hands as dirty as their wives to even out the scales. On the occasion of Mother’s Day, they seem to ably be represented by Shantanu when he says, “My head bows down to the huge contribution women, especially mothers, make in our day-to-day life. They deserve more than having only a day set aside to cheer them up! We are only doing our part when we salute them every day by sharing the load with them. After all, it belongs to us all.”