I am a working mother and a homemaker. Yes, so are hundreds of women the world over but I am of the new generation that ‘works from home’. It ensures that I have the flexibility to do my work from the comfort of my home while I juggle my housework, children and family commitments with my job.
I get the full share of all household chores to do in spite of my work schedule, so the maid is indispensable for me, or I cannot get my work done. In fact, on holidays, according to my folks, I am freer since I am not ‘wasting time’ doing that hobby of mine.
On most days, when I compare myself with our domestic helper, I feel she gets a raw deal since she is just a maid; a small cog in a large system, an easily replaceable woman. Yet on occasions, I feel that she is indispensable to me at least. Those are the days when there are holidays or some special occasions.
You see, she has a holiday sometimes when our family too is on a break. I am jealous on such days since she gets a break while a holiday is not one for me.
Sadly, for my family and most people around me, my job is easily dispensable; not a ‘real job’ and just a creative outlet for me. My work doesn’t count since I work from home. It’s not really work, says my family. I am within the comfort of my home, mostly in comfortable clothes and have an excuse to work when I want to. On holidays, I get a break from my work but not from the chores at home.
Miss World Manushi Chhillar recently opened a Pandora’s box by saying that homemakers deserve the highest salaries, but will it make any difference to the status of women like me? Women like me are stuck in a limbo of working and getting no recognition while also being full-time homemakers and getting no respite or recognition since it is our job to do the housework. My real job, the one where I ‘work from home’ gets no acknowledgment or appreciation from anyone in the family; instead, I get the added burden of being considered quite capable to do some extra work outside the house as well.
I must shoulder the workload at home all by myself, so I feel my maid gets more recognition for her work than mine. She is stepping out of the house and so automatically gains credit and acceptance of her work. Forget the comparison of the kind of job it is – menial, intellectual, social or marketing – as long as a woman moves out of the house to work, it is considered genuine work. She is working, earning a living, doing a job, being useful. I, on the other hand, am just using my free time to do some work that no one is really sure is actual work.
It is a choice I made to avoid the commute, the long hours and the inflexible timings. Yet, instead of appreciation and recognition, all I get is complacency and the assumption that I am always available; that I do not need a break or rest nor do I need any help with my household chores.
I struggle each day with being firm with my work time. Many times, I end up upsetting family elders and friends over the fact that that I would rather sit at home with my ‘pastime’ than socialise with them. A family visit, a relative’s religious function, a friend’s impulse shopping spree or just a random get together (since someone was bored) must all take precedence over my work.
Women work across the world; yet only those who step out to go to a place away from their home are thought of as contributors to the household income. They are valued and acknowledged. My work is a vague ‘something’ that I do to keep myself occupied since I have enough free time at home. After all, I have a maid who does most of my housework. I can’t help but be jealous of her ‘work status’ sometimes.
Have you ever faced such an unfair treatment due to your job? Does your work find favour and acceptance within your family and elders? Are you continuously struggling to prove your work or job worthy? Share your trials and incidents with me, especially if you work from home!
When women work outside the home, their work inside doesn’t magically go away! Women continue to bear the ‘double burden’ of two jobs – resulting in immense stress as well as lost opportunities. Join Women’s Web & Breakthrough India in our special #Streelink series this month, as women share their stories on the double burden. You can learn more here and share your story.
This post was first published on Women’s Web. Check out the post here.