My mother joined the Reserve Bank of India when I was 18 months old. So basically, she worked from the time I can remember. I carried the house key on a string around my neck from the time I was eight years old and was responsible for myself, my younger sister who was 6 and the key. Our cousins and friends pitied us because we came home to a locked house. At the same time, they were envious of us because we were trusted to carry the house key! Recently, one of the neighbourhood aunties mentioned it. My friend Dhana, who is a successful PR professional overheard this, and had a different take on the story. She said, “In my family, your mother is the ‘role-model mummy’. How to be a working homemaker who raises her kids just right!”
Even as I patted myself on my back (after all I’d just been told that I was raised right!), I was thinking, “this makes for a great post”. So, I asked Dhana to talk about it from her perspective. Here’s her story.
Even when I was very young, I knew that my mother looked up to yours. All the aunties did. She “went to office” and took care of the home. And though I didn’t understand why or how, I knew that she was always ‘studying’. Once I asked my mom why she studied, she said “because she likes to know”.
And she is an excellent cook – whenever we would come over to your house to play, she would offer us some new delicacy. It would be fantastic.
My mother would hold you and your sister up, as the way we should be – “see they study well, see they won a prize, see…”
So, your mother did everything mine did, plus she worked outside the home, plus raised her kids right. On top of that she made some exotic dishes and is always hospitable.
All this must have got fixed in my brain.
When I had my kids, your mom came over to see the babies and it just clicked. I decided I would be like her – a role model mummy – and live my life the same way.
I didn’t do things exactly the same way – I have two boys and that’s so different from raising two girls and of course, I had a lot more household help. But I followed it in principle.
My sons have chores at home. They’re expected to share the work – when they were younger, by keeping their rooms tidy and doing homework without supervision. Now as they’re older, each is also responsible for one meal a week – menu planning to cooking to cleaning up. My older one is expected to keep track of all maintenance activities at home – whether it is changing a bulb or getting the plumber to fix a leaky tap. The younger one has been the family tech guy since he was in class VI – WiFi, laptops, phones – he is the troubleshooter.
They’re confident and independent.
Last year, my 13-year-old traveled to Chandigarh with my mom. They had to change flights in Delhi. I’m not sure who escorted whom! My mother claims that she just did what Sumant said – he was the one in-charge.
I’m certain that when they leave for college, they will be self-dependent – food, laundry, managing their money, – whatever it takes.
My friends are surprised – “how come they don’t rebel? How come they don’t say ‘we’re slave-labour’? None of our friends do it – why should we/”
I believe it is because they see their father and me working hard and long hours, to build our careers, create a loving home and care for the family – not just them, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.
And, I’ve followed your mother in other ways too – I’ve worked from the time I completed my PG. Every year, I do a course. Sometimes, the organisation funds it, but quite often I fund it myself – I’ve studied a wide variety of subjects, some relevant to my career, others just because I’m curious. My husband Vijay does it too, but not every year. It’s a lot of fun – all of us sitting around the dining table studying – just like your family.
Again, I’m role modeling life-long learning to my kids – hopefully, it’ll be a way of life for them too.
“I want my children to learn self-confidence and be self-dependent – my having a job goes a long way towards both.”
What are your thoughts on reading this? Are you inspired to do what Dhana does? Even if you’ve taken a career break, it is never too late to restart.
If you’re a reader of our posts, you already know that indePenn brings women on a career break back to work. If you’re wondering whether you can return to work, reach out to us by signing up at www.indePenn.com – we’ll handhold you through the journey of getting back to work.
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