When I had my first child, I decided to quit my job and be with my son. If not forever, at least till he was old enough to be able to stay away from me. After a lot of discussion with my husband and weighing of pros and cons, I gave up my job. Two years down the line, I thought that my son was old enough to manage, with help from others in the family and decided to go back to work. Again, my husband supported me in my decision. Once I had my second child, I decided to give up my career, in spite of being a successful team leader and I did so.
I am not writing this to highlight the happenings of my life. I am just trying to prove a point that when it comes to giving up a job or restarting it, women have a choice to decide so because they may not be the chief bread-winner of the family. However, if the men ever had to make this choice, it would surely be a tough call for them. Even if their spouse is financially independent I doubt if it would be so easy and simple for the men to just give up a job and stay at home. The upbringing in our patriarchal society is such that men are supposed to be the earning members of the family. Even with changing times, the tag of being the key earner of the family is always with the man. The women are just supposed to be supplementing the income, unless in exceptional cases. When a woman is managing her career and house, she expects her man to help her in all the fronts. When she feels that she is unable to balance the two, she can give up her job. But the man can never do that, no matter how frustrating or stressful his job is.
Away at work
The area that I live in, there are many families where the men of the house are either working on ships or in the Middle East countries. They get an annual leave of a month or two and the rest of the year they are away at work. Leaving the women alone to take care of the family, the kids and the household. Most often, I am in awe of the women, about how they manage things single handedly, maybe with some support from their relatives. Obviously relatives cannot make up for the absence of a spouse. But ideally the men are equally worth of appreciation. The fact remains that they do go through a lot of physical and emotional stuff, while they are alone.
Missing even the simple joys of life
The general tendency is to assume that the men who are living away from their families are having a gala time, away from their responsibilities, enjoying life in their own way. Seriously?? How enjoyable is it to be coming back to an empty house and then cooking food, after a long day at work. Surely it is not the best feeling in the world to be coping with sickness alone, with nobody around to pamper. A few of them maybe are opportunists and are able to keep loyalty to the spouse and the family aside and move on with their life. But a majority of them may not indulge in such frivolities.
Then there are birthdays, anniversaries and festivals which may be celebrated all alone or maybe in the company of a few colleagues, but not the real family per se. While the father is away, fulfilling his professional commitments, his kids are growing up. In some cases, from a toddler, to a preschooler, to a teenager and so on. While the mother has been struggling with the growing years of the children, the father only has occasional glimpses of the growing up years. .
Often times when we women need a change from the routine of cooking or things just seem too boring, we demand to go into a restaurant for a meal. The men who stay away from their families, looking for a change from the everyday restaurant food or self cooked food may probably have to depend on a compassionate colleague, to serve him home cooked food. And there are also times when there is an illness of a loved one. There is a sense of helplessness and an anxiety because staying so far away these men can do nothing except keep enquiring about the well-being of the loved ones. Not a very happy feeling either.
Abusers v/s Supportive spouses
Surely, there are men who are chauvinists, who believe in using women as doormats. There are womanizers, who abuse women mentally and physically, not to forget the rapists for whom women are objects of lust and desire. But definitely not every man has these qualities. Out of 10 men, we may see 3-4 men who have these negative traits. Because of those 3-4 men, we ignore the 6-7 men who are worthy of all appreciation. The Law of Attraction states that we get more of what we focus on. So rather than focusing on the 30-40% of the men who are a burden on the society, why don’t we start appreciating more of the other 60-70% of the men in our lives who make it more worthwhile.
There are many chat shows, panels and discussions to discuss penalty for a rapist but no chat show comes up with ideas to acknowledge the gentlemen in our lives. There is always a women’s day celebration, but never a specific day to celebrate the men in our lives. With due respect to women, surely we have a lot to endure, physically and emotionally. But, most of the times, women have been showered with the praise that they rightly deserve. The men are equally deserving of appreciation, life doesn’t serve them everything on a platter either. They too have their share of emotional upheavals which is sadly not brought to the forefront, thanks to our upbringing. But whether they get the deserved appreciation or not, is surely questionable.
The Good men in our lives are a blessing
It is a blessing that the men around me belong to the 60-70% genre. I shudder to think how my life would have been, if I would have been dealing with one of those irrelevant men. I feel we do owe it to the men in our lives, be it a parent, a sibling, spouse or just a friend. Thanks for standing by us and letting us live our lives too, in the way we want to. May there be many more like you and may we have more happy families around us.
This article was first published in Women’s Web :