Exploring Patriarchy – Chapter 26
As I mentioned in Chapter 24, Microwave Madam had begun practising sovereignty. This meant unlearning ideas that make women think that running on empty is ok. And learning that support is a two-way street.
Her need for rest and support being as important as that of her husband’s, was a new idea. It went down smooth in concept as she lived in a modern family. But not in implementation as modernity hadn’t really sunk that deep.
MM had no support from her friends in her journey to a place that would allow her the same rights to rest that her husband had. You see, she was the first in her social circle to walk down this road. It was challenging and sometimes overwhelming.
Family support came after after results of her efforts were evident. And family saw that they brought happiness to all. But the initial years were a HUGE challenge because she was going against a system that had worked for many generations. No one had realized that it wasn’t working anymore, and that what MM faced would hit all of them in time. No one, except MM.
MM had serious health issues that made rest essential for her. And the busy of very long working hours and four hours a day commuting took away the resources her husband had to reciprocate care. So MM made this journey alone.
There was a point in time when both MM’s husband and their parents had started to normalize the busy that deprived all of them of relaxed family time. A busy that meant he could only receive support, but not provide it to others. So MM decided to seek counselling.
This helped because change takes effort and time. And MM had, at this time, been running on empty. She had endometriosis and had been living with severe pain, or side-effects from hormones that stopped the pain. Facing some level of discrimination from neighbours and acquaintances, and from some medical professionals because she didn’t have children.
Those were days she struggled to balance a part-time career with home chores extended by customs and fixed ideas. Gender related chores that made it easy for men to leave their busy unmoderated.
She still made time for family relationships. Time for family members who were ill and would pass away very soon. She needed time to grieve. And to support elders during their time of grief. And she made time support elders so they stayed independent as they grew older.
Counselling gave her a sounding board for ideas. A commitment and an accountability with her decision to slow down the busy. And it supported her during the times when pushback was tremendous.
- MM broke rules on how chores should be done and found ways that took less time and effort.
- Responded to signals from hoarder family members who made space for things and had no space for family to stay over on a visit, by cutting down on overnight visits.
- She set routines and timings for her chores. And routines for breaks and rest.
- Her cholesterol levels went up. And she began to demand the same kind of consideration that she had provided to her husband when his levels had been high years ago. And threw a fit when he thought taking over cooking to help her out on a day filled with a lot of elder care meant ordering a greasy home delivered dinner.
Counselling helped her set routines with reasonable degree of flexibility, and she stuck to them with a bloody-mindedness that came from temper. And a deep feeling of injustice that she was being short-changed by the way all of them were conditioned.
It is a shame and a harsh commentary on the way things are, that there’s no support for rest – the one important aspect of women’s health that the medical profession ignores. MM was the first in her circle of friends to change age-old traditions so she had no one to turn to for advice and ideas. The first, but not the last because other women would soon follow.
The lockdown would deprive them of maids. Work from home and online schooling would create demands on the home manager to an extent never seen before. And tempers would rise.
And like climate change is re-shaping shorelines and habitable areas on our planet, the lockdown would re-shape gender roles in some families.
I invite you to read all chapters of Exploring Patriarchy and walk with Microwave Madam as she explores the impact of patriarchy on her life and on society. And looks for solutions.
This chapter, like the previous one, was inspired by the idea of Sovereignty – from Healing the Mother Wound by Bethany Webster.