Bluntly speaking - all the generalisation about working/Staying at home

Last month there were 2 popular forwards doing their rounds on Facebook. I take all the forwards on any social networking site with a pinch of salt. They are much to my amusement only. But these 2 - apart from amusing me, also angered me.

One of them was about Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO stating 'Choosing a partner is the most important career-decision a woman can make'. The second was about a post by a dad stating that he could not afford his Stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) wife, because her contributions were monetarily superseding his earnings. Predictably the former forward was most happily posted by working women and the latter by SAHM moms! 

The pattern, the generalisation, the whole tone of the both the articles angered me (I am not sure how much truth the articles hold) . And I have got to get it out.

First let me tackle my own kind - the working women. I think they are being supremely narrow minded when they are setting the be-all and end-all of their career as their husband. Yes husband's are important. There is nothing more gracious than a husband who shares house work, since the woman is sharing the accounts. But then is the husband the responsible party for the woman's career?! That is what is technically called a Single Point of Failure. So if we ascertain the single point of failure as the husband, flipping the reasoning, he would be the single point of success as well. How many women would be ok to give the credit of all their success - career wise - to their husband? Guess very few! We would love to take some accolade for our drive, motivation, hard work. If that works for a successful one, that works for every one. Women themselves are solely responsible for their careers. Children, family, husband - all play a role. Then it depends how we handle , or want to handle each of them. When my child was unhappy at daycare, I was on the verge of quitting. Something stopped me, and today both she and I are doing good. Had I quit, things would have panned out differently, but that would have been because of how I handled things. I can assure, my husband would have supported me either way. It was my call.

Another angle of it is most women are considering scenarios of the present generation only. I am a third generation working woman. My grandmothers used to work too! I have many grand-aunts who used to work. All my aunts work. I have seen many situations where they faced opposition from husbands, in laws - what is the need to work? Those were not the days of insatiable wants. But they worked - to improve their overall state, to engage in something fulfilling. They ended up etching a career for themselves and getting the approvals of dissidents. Where there is a will there is a way. It is very easy to pin everything on a single person. And everyone loves a scape-goat! 

Now for the cost of not being able to afford a SAHM. I have not heard anything more ludicrous than this! Attaching a monetary value for a mom feeding, giving bath, ensuring naps, changing diapers, et al. First of all, if the dad should get a fact correct - you attach a value to an economic service.  Parenting is not an economic service. If it was taken at that, you would need to attach a value to the first trimester of nausea, the second of bloated-ness and the third trimester of sleepless-ness and general discomfort. And pray do not ask me the price of enduring labour, or going through the recovery of a Cesarean section. Mind you - woman do lose their lives in child birth. I am sure if this dad accounted all that costs - that would have been an effective contraception against any progeny. 

What a SAHM does, is on her own volition. Adding it up - it is a voluntary activity. There is no price attached to a voluntary activity. If it is involuntary, which means, she was not fit for a job market, then again, she had no scope in engaging in any lucrative economic activity anyway. (I  know that sounds harsh!) It is fool hardy to attach a monetary value for child care activities - be it by a working woman or SAHM. It is ok to attach it to a child care worker, since he/she is enabling someone else to earn(i.e. the mother) - by producing goods or services. Hence they are a secondary service in their own regard.

Leaving the solid economic concept line,  I feel you cannot attach a price tag on everything. Can we attach a price to what our parents did for us? Can we attach a price on the worry our grandparents feel if they hear we are travelling and have not called back in the past 2 hours? Can we attach a price on the satisfaction on helping a stranger find the way, offering a seat to an elderly, letting a lady with a screaming child ahead in the queue? If we can, then am afraid all hope is lost for humanity!  

Well.... these are entirely my opinion, and I would love a healthy argument on either stems. But nothing emotional about it - I would love purely analytic arguments please :) 

Warts and all

On the surface I have everything going for me. I have a loving husband, a child, a job I love, loving circle of family and friends. I am mostly happy go lucky, and tend to take a devil may care attitude towards most things. I am a very firm believer of some nuggets of wisdom like 'Live and let live', 'To each their own', 'No one is black or white - everyone is grey' which helps me accept many road blocks. I have read quite a bit of Hindu scriptures (more their loose adaptations and re-telling by mom and mil) and the concept of Karma gives me further acceptance of people and circumstances.

In spite of all this, once in a while, I get jealous. Well... jealous is not the right fit. I get a rumbling feeling - what did so-and-so do to deserve such-and-such. I hate having such thoughts, as there is a popular Facebook wall picture - Never judge the happiness of others for you don't know what their struggles have been like (or something on the similar vein). Yes. I understand that too. We do not have full appreciation of what another person's life is in detail. How is any other person's bounty going to affect me? I have my kitty and they get their dividends from theirs. Their progress in no way impairs mine, affects mine. We are like different celestial bodies in the vast space, whose paths would not intersect come what may. Then why that negative feeling from me? 

This time I gave it a good hard thought... and since this space is my space for getting clarity, I thought let me try to write and analyse. Why this angst against some achievement of another? Is it because, in my not-so-perfect world, there are some wishes that seem should get a higher priority in the grand scheme of things? And when another person gets something he/she wants, I feel my desires are being pushed down a level by some Supreme Power? Is it because in my head, I have a designated state in which every person should be? Is it like I have given a time and space coordinate to each person, and any movement disrupts the field? Is it the case of misery loving company that I wish a lot of other people also wallowed in misery and defeat? 

I feel guilty for harbouring such thoughts. Being God-fearing, I dread being punished for having ill-will against another. But then I am a mere human... so help me God.

Not a romantic arrangement

I did write about seat-gate in one of our train travels in my last post. One haadsa (incident) happened to us too.

The journey was long and after a day off sight seeing K and I were dead tired too. K in fact was feeling a bit claustrophobic in the crowd. There was a lady who was quite harried by her baby and toddler. She and the toddler occupied 2 seats while the baby was in a push chair. Finally when she got down, K grabbed the seats left empty by the lady. I sat on K 's lap. Why? Well I will unravel the reason in a bit :)

After sometime another lady came in a rush to occupy the seat in which the toddler was sitting. She pulled down the chair (the place where you place the bottom kinda folds up, like in cinema theaters ) and made a grotesque face and ran away repulsed.

Now is the time for drum rolls ;) The reason I did not take that seat was, the poor baby had puked all over it. So my sitting on K's lap (immaterial of how romantic it looked) was a totally infrastructural arrangement :P

Hum log( We people)

We recently took a holiday. While on holiday, what K loves the most is abusing.. er... using the underground metro system of cities. I like taking in the culture and noting the general behaviour of people. K says I stare at people :( I prefer to believe I observe ;) 

One day we got into a train and there was a family. Mom, dad, a boy and a girl. The boy was seated on mom 's lap and the girl in a seat. The dad was standing. The father said in  Hindi ' control main nehi hain dono, itna maroonga na main inhe ghar jaake! ' ( They are totally out of control. I am going to give them a good thrashing once we get back home)  The mom sat, listening, gently stroking the head of her son. Moms - aren't they the peace keeping force all the time? The father's words did not shock me, they in fact rung a bell - the old school disciplinarian dads before the daddy cool cult came in :) I absolutely love the new gen dads who do so much more. But I was raised by one of the retro ones :) so I know one when I see one :)

Yet another time we went to a place which was up in the hills. The trains were once every hour and the journey to the main city was close to an hour long. At the station a family got in - mom, dad and two boys. There was no place to sit in the train. But there were a couple of  steps on either side of the compartment. 4 steps! Problem solved for mommy! There was only 4 seats she needed! She made her sons sit on one side and she and husband  were about to sit on other two, when a man came and stood on one of the steps. She told the husband 'usko excuse me bolo aur baitho na!' ( Say excuse me and sit down). Husband hesitated. She said the golden words, the man moved  and they sat. But there was some more trouble in paradise. Someone had to use the steps on the other end and the elder son got up to make way. In the meanwhile his seat was usurped! (Boy we were having some musical step-chair going on there!) Elder did not mind and shared the step with his brother. Mom asked from the other end if he was OK. He replied yes. She went across the compartment to check. All the while her husband kept his hand on the step lest someone grab her step - chair!! 

15-20 minutes later, someone near the mom was getting down. Even before the passenger could lift one half of her bottom, mommy had secured the seat! She at once called  the younger one to take the legal seat :) Next station someone at the other end  I.e the end where elder was still seated on a step got down. Someone quickly came and took the place. Mom from the other commented 'usko dikh nehi raha tha wo utarne wali hai? Kitna gawaar hai yeah ladka!'  ( Didn't he realise she was about to get down? How rustic is he!)

K and I could not help but chuckle at all this. But what I also saw was protective matriarch. Society may be accept it, but just how willingly women take the responsibility of the whole family. Even if there are men! 

People do not cease to amaze me. And such incidents just increase my marvel :)

Bluntly speaking - Kids

Roomie dear allegedly checks my blog site every single day and gets mighty disappointed not finding anything new. She even said, 'The Book thief had become the blog thief' :D Well said! I have been meaning to write something, anything at all. But my head was as empty as a null object (Excuse the atrociously bad joke, I am an object oriented programmer :P ) 

I am a very strong opinionated person. I think I started writing my posts, because I did not feel many people in the world could stomach my spoken word :D But then somewhere down the line, I veered away from venting much of my pearls of wisdom. Since there was nothing ground breaking happening anyway, I thought, might as well spread some shock and awe and reveal my ground breaking thoughts ;) 

Disclaimer before the reader proceeds : The thoughts are entirely my own. I would encourage a healthy hearty debate. I would love some in fact. But in good spirits of course :) 

Let me pick up something I have been having a lot of conversation about lately - kids. One aspect that I regularly see myself defending is why have kids? I was not a great fan of kids. I loved the bubbly, vibrant sorts who would get along with any stranger. But who does nt love those kids who perform to the crowds? I quite like kids now that I have had one of my own :D 

When asked why have kids, my rational, scientific mind says - because it is biologically natural to have kids. It is nature's dictum to try and improve our gene pool and produce the next generation. That is why I am a big proponent for cross cultural, cross ethnicity kids - mix the genes, make them stronger! I feel it is not only physically natural to have kids, it is emotionally natural too. Like the logical synapses of the mind enrich when we learn a new trade or pick a new skill. I feel the emotional circuits gets enriched when we have one additional person to love , to care. Why does gardening or looking after a puppy make one feel so good? Its the love and care that we put into something that gives us an intangible gratification. Imagine the gratification when you see something you have created out of your own self smile back, hold your finger, kiss your cheeks! It is surreal.

During the organic chemistry days, I remember, a lesson about covalent and ionic bonds. Without boring readers from other faculties (as if my topic was not boring enough :S ) , bonds are what tie elements together. A covalent bond is where some electrons are shared between elements, while ionic ones are where one elements lends some electrons and the other borrows some. Both result in a relationship - a bond. A covalent bond is way stronger than an ionic bond. Logical is nt it. A relationship based on sharing is stronger that one based on give and take! Look at that - science showing us the way :D With children I feel couples get the electrons to share. Some argue that, they have everything going swell. Why would they need  children to strengthen a bond. I do not say that kids strengthen a weak relationship or can mend bridges. They are an reinforcement to an already strong tie. Honestly, I have not seen a couple who have consciously decided to stay away from children, not being pulled towards puppies, kittens or the likes. The desire to nurture and rear is too natural.

I also feel, kids are a link to the previous generation. They not bind us to our parents. They see a miniature of their kids in their grand kids. In fact, the lack of day to day responsibilities, makes them look at grand kids as even more engaging exercise. Most talks veers towards the young ones, but then, that is so much more satisfying.

There is one last argument with which I would rest my case. I have met more people who have regretted not having children, than who have repented having them. So go on... parenting is worth it.

PS. I do not judge or cast aspersions on anyone who has chosen not to have children for whatever reason. It is after all a free world.