Friday, 9 September 2011


Pic Courtesy: James Burton

Is that what you think of when you imagine Superwoman? Well, my friend Kamakshi Karuna Kapilavai, with her infant son, feels differently. Recently, she put up a quote from Edgar Watson Howe on facebook, "If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylum would be filled with mothers." She says that she received many comments on posting this. But she isn't locking up her kid somewhere or wishing him to be away. All she wants to know is if mothers are actually supposed to be superwomen; is it wrong for them to find some time per day for their sanity?

Kamakshi with her son

Recently, I wrote an article A Father Is Just A Father, But A Mom Is Life It was an acknowledgement of the fact that in Indian society a mother's role is much bigger; she takes care of everything at home: from washing, to cleaning up house, food and drinks for everyone, and moderating (in many cases tolerating) everyone's moods and emotional outbursts. In the midst of all this, bringing up a child is a full-time job. And, there is no break. The kid has got indefatigable energy. By the time a mother finishes doing up the household chores, the kid - of the age that Kamakshi has - shifts from part time attention to full time atention. He is inquisitive, active, curious, and wanting to do things. Kamakshi's son, as seen in the picture above, is of the age as depicted in the ditty below:

We used to wash his hands for him,
But now that he is not so small,
He washes his own whilst we just,
Wash the soap, the sink and the wall.

By the time she finishes playing with him, answering his difficult questions (there ain't any easy ones that they ask), attending to his every need and generally amusing him; the husband is back from - you guessed it right - work. I am a man, a father; but, I know that at least men have a change of scene: from home to office to home; and probably a few other locations. After a hard day's work, for him, it is time for television, sudoku, probably a drink and listening to music. However, for her, the work, that never really got over, starts all over again.

What about reversal of roles? Here is a good one on that:
A family of five was going out for a picnic. As soon as everyone finished breakfast, she told the husband, "Lets do things differently today. Why don't you collect the dishes and put them in the sink, wipe up the kids, help them put on their shoes, turn off the switches in every room including that of the geyser, leave the garbage out; whilst I will go down to the car and keep pressing the horn?"

So, what does she really want? One: sometime of the day that she can call her own; and two, a little empathy. The first one is not just to recharge batteries but also to know that there is more to life than a fixed routine in which sheets are getting dirty and need washing, maidservant has to be tackled (and these days tackling means great skills on which a lot of How to books can be written), the AMC man for washing machine needs to be called, bills have to be paid, shopping for vegetables and fruits has to be done and plants have to be watered to say the least. Can you get servants to do all this? Try it; and if you have to do dusting as well, you are pooped like a cow being milked. And then comes the child.

Why am I saying all this? Have I gone off my rocker? Have I  left my ilk in the lurch? Not really; I too am convinced that I work much harder than my wife, and am able to attend to many many things, including writing this blog. However, I am not into cyclic work; my work has a definite beginning and an end. And, unless I pretend, I do get time to myself for Sudoku et al after I reach home weary.

And, there is one more reason: who knows in my next life I may be born a woman; and then....

"A man's work is from sun to sun, but a mother's work is never done."

Or in other words: "Mother of small kids work from son up to son down."


  1. We have 4 children. My wife is a stay-at-home mom. The children and the housework weary both of us, but my wife catches the brunt of the responsibility while I'm at work.

  2. Hey that was a well thought out and written post. But feminists are up in arms precisely with this thought process. By acknowledging that women are a breed of superwomen, the image is not only being foisted on her but also perpetuated. Thankfully the modern man is more amenable to sharing housework, but as Stan szczesny above has pointed out, the woman 'catches the brunt of the responsibility...'


I welcome all your comments as long as these are not vituperative, use obscene language and are communal