[ Karyir Riba ]
Whenever any guest arrives at our home and sees my husband working in the kitchen, it is like they have seen a ghost in daylight. It’s only after they have come out of their bewilderment and are able to speak that we understand that the cause of their shock is not a ghost (thank god there are none in our humble abode), but the fact that my husband is cooking in the kitchen to feed his family.
I am yet to understand how and when the notion came to be that housework is limited only to women while men can just eat food (cooked by their wives) and sleep (in the house kept clean by their wives).
If I think hard, and go back in time to one million years ago, all traditions are mostly followed because of some connection to the experiences of our ancestors. I can only relate it to the early man (Homo erectus) and his family. The early men had to rely on hunting animals as their main source of food. And, since the adrenaline-infused men had to go out hunting, the women might have been given the task to take care of the house and get the fire burning to cook whatever the men brought back from their hunt.
Today, the furthest a man has to go to get his meat is upto the nearest meat shop, where even a child can go, as long as they are given proper directions (do not try this at home). Thus, now both men and women are capable of getting home their meat, meaning both have equal time on their hands to devote to household chores.
When both men and women have stomachs and feel hungry, both the genders should equally be responsible to cook and feed each other.
I am a mother of two sons, and my future daughters-in-law are going to be thankful to me. My eight-year-old already has his list of age-appropriate household chores that he has to complete daily and help in the housework. He also shows interest in cooking. He sees his father and his uncles cooking and cleaning. His grandfather doesn’t hesitate to lift a broom, too. Children learn from what they see. So, if fathers do not want their sons to grow up to become some pathetic person that looks down on the opposite gender, stop posting pictures on social media about how you had to cook your own tea/meal because your wife was not home.
Another bothersome societal pressure on women is how we are expected to be the only marital partner to take care of our children, as if the nine months of morning sickness, fatigue and various restrictions weren’t enough. Ironically, when the father is taking care of his own children, it is considered ‘babysitting’.
The most common conversation I have with random people, when I’m out on the field covering some event, goes like this-
Them: Where are your children?
Me: At home.
Them: With whom?
Me: Their father.
Them (with a sarcastic laugh): Oh… So your husband is on babysitting duty today.
I simply smile sheepishly and vanish (or try to, at least). I can bet all my money that my husband must have never been asked where his children were and who was taking care of them.
We are a nuclear family, and being self-employed means our working hours are such that hiring a house help is not convenient for us. Hence, we have the chores divided between us. There must be many families out there who are like us, but do the men of such households care to help their better halves in taking care of their house and their children?
Cooking for family and keeping house clean does not make a man any less of a man.
Man up and start lending the wife a hand in taking care of children, house and kitchen. When women can juggle home and work, so can men. It’s high time men started having faith in themselves and their capabilities.