>It’s been more than 8 years of non-stop work for me, and I still don’t know how a teenager who wanted to grow up to do nothing turned into semi-workaholic me. My biggest high in life, for now, is work. And the three years when I was still working but had it easier, I fretted over how I was frittering away my time when I could do so much more. I put a lot of my other life on hold to carry on with work, but it gives me joy.
Having said that, I sometimes grudge the fact that my absence from home for most part of the day makes me less part of the family than the domestic helpers who spend the entire day at my place. I often have the feeling that they’re part of the family life I’m missing out on because I’m at work. For those who don’t know, I live in a joint family, with my in-laws. And I worry, lesser now than I used to in the initial years of my marriage, that by being away from home for such long hours I am making myself totally dispensable to the ‘family’. Everything can happen without me, ‘can’ being the keyword here. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it does.
I know a lot of full time working women – women who don’t just have jobs but careers. And I know they also have this underlying insecurity, like I do. More so if they are mothers. So I know I’m not the odd one out. But I guess it is one of those things I have to make my peace with. And to a great extent I already have. It’s the remainder that still bothers me occasionally.
It’s sad that whenever a woman chooses to step out of the house to work, she’s leaving behind a part of her life she would like to take along with her. What is it – our conditioning or our emotional constitution – that makes us want to inhabit two worlds at the same time? Sometimes I wonder if it really wouldn’t have been better if women had continued to play the role of dedicated homemakers, living to every stereotype of wife, mum, daughter, whatever instead of straddling two worlds and spending their lives trying to bridge the divide between the two. I know I would be a more relaxed person if I didn’t have in my head the idea of working. Or if I did, it would be better if I didn’t also have the idea of being a homemaker while away at work. Then I could just put my head and heart into one thing. Where did this idea of ‘woman of substance’ come from, of this woman who can manage both the worlds efficiently? What kind of superwomen set such high-stress precedents for the rest to follow?
At no point am I suggesting that I’d like to retire from my work and take up the stay-at-home role, simply because I cannot. It’s not me. I do wish though I could get rid of compunctions to be a ‘complete’ woman. Is there such a thing as a complete woman, as the Raymond ad would like to sell to us the idea of a complete man?