Becoming Microwave Madam – Chapter 5
MM grew up in a home with a maid who had been around for years and had become a part of the family. It didn’t strike her that things don’t work out this way at first.
It’s challenging finding a maid who is a good fit for one’s home, AND who will only take a reasonable amount of leave. At least it was for her. She had a choice of one or the other, so she stuck with a maid she was comfortable with and took over the maids work during extended holidays.
Life often challenges one on many fronts at the same time, and these were the years with many that aren’t a part of this story. In any case, it is challenging juggling the role of the home manager and a career with long working hours. Issues that are small when there’s someone at home, create stress when one has to take leave to attend to them. They affect one’s career and it takes time to realise that organizations don’t care enough to provide the flexibility in working hours that supports family life and the creation of a stress-free society.
Coming home from a long day at work to dinner yet to be done deprives one of rest. Ordering out or having a ‘dabba’ delivered wasn’t a solution for her, though many take this route. Low fat – low spice cooking that tastes halfway decent, with no food color, healthy salt levels and no preservatives, the way both eat, is hard to come by in India even now. MM could have taken this route, but made a choice not to.
It would take her years to learn to be efficient at cooking, cleaning and organization, because doing this meant discarding old ideas and traditions. Fixations on they way things had to be done that come down from generation to generation in Indian families and are so much a part of customs and traditions that one needs to really be pushed against a wall to question them. Rules that make cooking time consuming. A lack of organized living that made daily tidying a huge task. And a man who had helped with chores, but never done daily housework. And therefore underestimated the effort involved when one never gets a weekly off.
The God’s would teach him his error in time, come 2020, the covid19 lockdown and work from home. It would be a rude awakening for him and would bring about a change in attitude that was much needed. And a realization that this busy was just too much. That it was creating lonely children and depriving elderly of much needed family time. And he would realize that the homemaker who is the support system for the family, often has no support system when she needs one.
2021 would make him grateful for work from home. The disappearance of his daily commute would bring an ease he’d never had. And a desperation to hang out the washing, just to get some movement into his sedentary work-day. He would, for the first time in his married life, actually get time to sit in his balcony with a leisurely cup of chai and enjoy spending quiet time in his home.
But that was much later. This was now, and and daily living was a struggle.
She realized that her career dreams weren’t working out and she just had to quit.
I invite you to read all chapters of Becoming Microwave Madam and understand why many women give up their careers and stay home.