Sunday, 10 May 2020

On Mothers and Chores

son helping with chores
src: wikiclipart

It's close to midnight. My mom slumps down on the bed, visibly exhausted. I'm lying down next to her, massaging my eyes after having spent my whole day before the laptop. I'm still wide awake, sleep eluding me yet again. My mom is moments away from a deep slumber, but a few words escape her before she dozes off. Something about the lockdown making little difference to stay-at-home moms.

It has always been inside me, but I just chose to ignore it to suit my convenience. The guilt. The guilt of not doing enough. In the recent years, I was this 'hard-working student' who mostly had things to study and assignments to work on. My mom rarely called me for help when she found me working. She would peep into my room and then silently walk away to continue with the chores alone. And I would let it be. I would reason with my guilt, convince it that if it weren't for the workload, I would've joined her. I'd then satisfy myself with the occasional little errands I ran. 

But then the college closed down, all work got suspended, and I became free. And yet again I found myself engaging in things of my own liking. I busied myself with activities of my own rather than resorting to doing chores. It was proof that it wasn't about the time I had with me, it was about the priorities. It always is, isn't it? So the guilt finally established its dominion and took my bum off the bed. I made sure never to refuse mom's calls no matter how important my work was.

But I knew that it still wasn't enough. My girl-friends and I had grown up vowing to only marry men who'd share the housework. So much for patriarchy. We'd be no less than hypocrites if we ourselves reclined in our beds while our moms toiled in the kitchen. It wasn't just about the men. Every able member of the family was responsible for their home and the work that came with it. 

And so, the guilt-ridden mind had further forced me to wash dishes in the sink, fold piles of clothes, and sweep the dusty floor over and over. Sometimes mom thanks me but I know she really shouldn't. Running the house is a family's group project, we're in this together. It's just that since moms voluntarily take up the work, we free-riders choose to relax. It shouldn't be her job to ask for help, it should rather be our duty to contribute.

My dad and I are assigned tasks now and then. But our fulfilling the tasks with a guilty conscience isn't enough. My voluntary dish-washing routine isn't enough. None of what we do is enough to reach up to what the mothers do for us. Last mother's day I wanted to convey that moms need to step out of their mother's shoes. Their identity is more than being a mother.  But how are they to do that when they continue to carry the weight of the home? 

The other day, I'd read from a fellow blogger, Balaka, of how the lockdown is bringing division of labour to households. It shouldn't take a lockdown for that to happen. Here at home, I can claim that I try.  But I still find more time in my hands than in mom's. I still feel my guilt crawling back. I don't know if it will ever be enough, but dear you, let's try and take up our responsibilities more. Let's please try and do our part in this family project and not let the burden fall on the mothers alone. 

For, it really isn't their duty. It is ours.


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