Job Designation: Stay-at-Home Mom

Written By

Kiran Manral

Work - Homemaker - Job designation stay at home mom --49 Loading

P just had a new baby. As far as new mommyhood goes, she was a little sanguine about it, this being her second time round, with her first offspring now out of training pants and off diapers. She knew about the coping with the leaky breasts, the postpartum depression sneaking up on her, dealing with the school drop and pick-up and the paediatrician visits for the new born. What she was not dealing too well with was the kindly queries from her ex-colleagues, who sashayed up in the most kindly “let’s visit the new mum,” mode, sparkly in their crisp white shirts and perm creased trousers, impeccable manicures and hair that a twice weekly salon dry keeps immaculate, asking her when she planned to get back to work.

Once upon a time she had a career and was an earning member of the citizenry. Now of course, her job definition was Stay At Home Mum, a term that gets bastardised to SAHM and is said in a tone that is mildly disparaging, accompanied by the slight roll of the eye by the more gainfully employed in commercial terms.

There are the images in popular media that were put there to make her depressed and dank and murderous enough to slit the throat of any unwary person who would dare ask her that dratted question. Angelina Jolie travelling the world with her brood, holding down the UN Ambassadorship with as much aplomb as crossing the interminable lengths of red carpets in gowns that are meant to have everyone around have their eyes dangling off on stalks. That’s why she has Brad Pitt, she thinks, and she’s stuck with, well, he’s a nice man but the hormones will never again race wildly when he enters a room after his potbelly. There was Indra Nooyi who still was responsible for the milk at home, never mind she’d just bagged board at Pepsico. She’d lost touch with her power suits and padded shoulders, and used her Blackberry to schedule play dates and paediatrician appointments.

Then there was Deepika next door with her hot shot corporate job, ably assisted with a veritable retinue of domestic help, never a hair out of place, and a home that could be straight out of a Homes & Interiors shoot, with everything arranged to within an inch of its life, and no errant surfaces begging for names to be scribbled in the dust layer. Not to mention the solitaires in her ears that she proudly declared she bought with her bonus the previous year, damn and blast all such hedonistic consumerism.  To make her feel even worse, Deepika’s kids were probably straight Mensa level geniuses who wrote cursive essays, while her toddler was still having trouble distinguishing his A from H.

Then came the AHA moment. “I wish I had a spouse who stayed at home,” a friend told her. “It would be such a blessing.” At that moment, her entire interior monologue changed. She was the luxury her spouse had. Because she was home, he had no worries about juggling child management, travelling on work, domestic chores and reaching home to find dinner on the table.  Hot and piping, if a little burnt and over-salted on bad days.  She was there when the kids were ill, handled the paediatric appointments, kept the kitchen stocked and running and ensured that clothes were laundered and fresh.

She put in hours of unpaid labour that if he needed to hire help to do would well bankrupt him. The next time her husband put up his feet on the coffee table, sipped from the cup of coffee she placed next to him and grumbled pleasantly about what it was that she was busy about the entire day, she handed him a print out. It detailed her duties and assigned the current market rate for each. He gulped, and never ever mentioned it again.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kiran Manral was a journalist before she quit to be full time mommy. Her blogs were both in India's top blogs and she was a Tehelka blogger columnist on gender issues. Her third book All Aboard was published by Penguin Random House India in August 2015. She initiated the online volunteer network India Helps, post the 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai and is also part of the core founding team of both www.csaawarenessmonth.com (Child Sexual Abuse Awareness online initiative) and www.vawaawarenessmonth.wordpress.com (Violence Against Women Awareness Month). She is on the Planning Board of the Kumaon Literary Festival and is an advisor on the Board of Literature Studio, Delhi. She was awarded the Women Achievers award by Young Environmentalists Group in 2013. She lives in Mumbai with her family and counts every day off the Nutella wagon as a successful day.

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