I am feeling very put upon today. I went to work this morning, picked up DD from daycare at 4:30. Fed her, got her to finish part of her homework and was just getting ready to have her practice piano when DH walked in the door. Sure enough, all plans went out the window. Daddy dearest said he’d take over piano practice. I figured I could take a power nap in the time it took DD to practice piano (Before all of you roll your eyes about me having the time to take a nap, let me tell you, I have been getting by with 4 hours of sleep every night for the last week thanks to DD’s school project, household cleaning projects and of course, work). I recollect hearing the piano keys while I was napping. Soon, it was 45 minutes later: DD and DH were playing. It was 7:00 PM. DD had not taken a shower, nor had she finished her reading homework or dance practice and we’ve been trying to get her into bed by 7:30 every night so we don’t do the whole “I want 5 minutes more” song and dance in the morning. Somehow , I managed to get the reading homework done, put dance practice on tomorrow’s to-do list and fed her dinner and sent her to bed at 8:15 PM. 45 minutes der se, lekin kam se kam 9:00 baje se pehle gayi to.
Then I did 2 loads of laundry, ironed clothes, cleaned the kitchen, all while DH surfed the net and ate peanuts for a post dinner snack. I bit my tongue and did not give in to my urge to bawl and scream. As I was putting away the ironed clothes, it occurred to me that I am living exactly the life I had asked for.
Growing up, especially in my teen years I was a hard-core feminist. I believed and still believe that women can do almost everything that men can and then some (9 hours of labor and C-section, my stronger fellow human beings?) . It was a matter of pride to me when I had a job that had me travelling 20 days a month, when I managed to find my way in places I’d never been to before, to navigate the Mumbai local trains at late hours at night. See that men, I’m a modern woman, I can take care of myself. Dark alleys don’t scare me. Then, marriage happened, I came to a different country, learned to manage more than I had ever been required to back home, including public transportation and driving on the wrong side of the road. I had never been very girly growing up, so I enjoyed discovering my more feminine side as well. I used to detest embroidery but I managed to do that when in the US, I was a homemaker for several years. I was never interested in cooking, I learnt that as long as one does not expect me to cook 7 days a week, I would enjoy my time in the kitchen as well.
Home ownership and motherhood brought their own joys. I was delighted to be able to decorate my first house, while caring for a newborn. See, we moved house when DD was six weeks old and in 4 years of marriage I had my DH convinced that I could move mountains. So he didn’t think twice before taking possession of the house six weeks after my C-section. And move house we did and I had settled in for the most part before a month was up. Now this was the first time that I felt maybe my whole feminism thing would come back to bite me in my a**. DH had used up all his leave during the delivery leaving me with settling house and caring for DD. He’d arrange to have furniture delivered but never be around to assemble it. And honestly, I never gave him a chance to assemble it. I would get it done during DD’s nap time or at night between feedings. The thing is, DH hates assembling stuff and I’d have to nag him to do it and he doesn’t read the instruction booklet so he’d have to redo a couple of steps anyways. So much easier to get it done myself.
Fast forward to six years later, I am still assembling furniture, arranging to get the house power washed, running to Home Depot to fix broken sprinkler heads and PVC pipes, all while DH says “You know, I’d have done it this weekend”. You must think what a wonderful husband. If this shrew had given him half a chance he’d have probably done it over the weekend. Before you sympathize too much with him, let me tell you, he bought me a painting 8 years ago that he was supposed to put up during the weekend. It’s still sitting in my closet awaiting its destiny.
My mother who is the original Do It Yourself girl had this observation to make – we should be more like Victorian women, delicate flowers. Lifting a mere cup of tea should strain our wrists. If we’d learnt how to be artfully delicate, we’d have our significant others waiting on us. Instead, we prefer that the job gets done, so we learn to fix sprinklers and assemble computer desks.
So in conclusion, maybe I should train DD at everything while also encouraging her whole “I’m a Princess, your job is to serve me” attitude. Maybe her significant other will wait on her hand and foot, not knowing she can wield a screwdriver better than he can. Hail Feminism. I better go, kal ke dabbe ki taiyyari karni hai.