That India is a land of paradoxes is a fact that doesn’t need re-establishing again and again. Among all paradoxes that are a living reality of this great country, one that affects me time and again is that of the beliefs around women and the real treatment. Ironically we have become so used to the treatment at the hands of men, even women around us that now it is called – a way of life. We are unable to spot the wrong in it. We have become socially conditioned to live it, without an iota of complaint. Even when we complain it is within our own peer circles – to our girlfriends, on our girls only WhatsApp groups, closed girls only Facebook groups, kitty gatherings and the likes. But hardly ever to the ones who need to hear it.
I am part of a lovely school group on WhatsApp; it is currently called – Weight ki Waat 😀 Considering that the group finds a mention in this post, unarguably it is a girls only group. (Not by choice really. I studied in a Girls Convent.) Recently someone in the group got really depressed with her MIL’s attitude towards not showing any responsibility towards the grandchild (i.e. my classmate’s child) and since school friendships are the best, she vented it out to all of us. Her depression arose mostly from the confusion she was facing in making a career choice. The better career option would have meant that she would be in a job that matches her potential more, a job that could possibly give her more job satisfaction and a job that will make her more financially independent. But the job also bought with it a pressing demand over her time. She would need someone to take care of her little princess during the evenings. Though the baby is school going but someone needs to be home when the doll comes back from school. While the child understood and was ready to cooperate the grandmother wasn’t. My friend was clearly told that her child is her responsibility and no one else will take care of that responsibility.
Is the upbringing of a child only a mother’s responsibility? The father has no role in it apart from providing money for all the needs and playing with the child once a week? What about all the grandma’s and grandpa’s who pressurized the couple in the first place to have a child, with their tiring never ending, “So when will you give us the good news?”
Ironically after my friend voiced her problem, many others in the group shared their own stories. Similar ones. The villains kept changing in the stories. But the stories trended on the same lines. At times it was the MIL, other times the couple had no support from either families because they married a person of their choice, sometimes it was even the girl’s own mother but by and large all these people were just following norm. Just following what has been happening all along. They were just conditioned to think and behave like that. They were just victims of social conditioning.
Bottom line is even in this 21st century India, with all its traditions of Devis being worshipped, feminine form of the creator being upheld with due awe and respect, with all talks of women empowerment and independence – she is still the child bearer. She not just bears the child in her womb, she bears the #load of having borne it for years and years. It is not just her body that gets scared – her career, confidence, financial independence, her me time – everything gets scared. The sacrifices that she makes within the confines of our social norms for the sake of her child is far beyond those nine months. Unfortunately, the father still is just an audience; standing on the side stage. He still doesn’t manage to come on the centre stage and #sharetheload with his wife in front of his family.
He does #ShareTheLoad when the couple stays separately as a nuclear family but even in those couples, while visiting the family or while the family visits them the roles change. The gears shift. The father becomes an audience, yet again.
I think it’s time to take a stand and #ShareTheLoad of bringing up your kid with your wife, guys. Forget the flowers, the chocolates, the gifts. Trust me she’s going to love you more for this. If you love her, show it to her beyond the confines of your bedroom.
#ShareTheLoad is the new #ILoveYou. And you just aren’t saying #ILoveYou to your wife, you are also teaching your son to say that to his wife and teaching your daughter to not take any other form of love.
(I was inspired to write this post after I saw the new Ariel advert of #ShareTheLoad campaign.)