‘Can we have it all?’ While women everywhere struggle between a work/family balance. Our counterparts seem to have it all.

I noticed this bias first when I heard my mother and my aunt talking. She was working and taking care of the house and children. The house was her responsibility and earning money was good for the family’s financial situation. She was clearly unhappy because things were blatantly unfair. Here is one person being held responsible for so much, she works all day, and on the other end there is her partner who should, in an ideal world have the same responsibilities but in our world, gets off easily. While she gets into bed an hour or two after he does because she’s still working he has enough time to watch television and play games.

Whenever a man does something in the house it is praised and thought of as extra credit. You  took the kids to school. You get 10 points for that. You did laundry let’s give you an extra 15. When a woman does the same thing it is not even acknowledged let alone praised. It is her responsibility and she isn’t doing anything more than she should. When a man comes home from work, food has to be prepared and ready and he is greeted like a king because he works so hard for the family. When a woman finishes work she prepares food, bathes her kids and puts them to bed. Sometimes she may even finish off work she couldn’t in the office.

The thing is that a man is only responsible for making money. And no matter what he makes be it 1500 a month a woman is supposed to make ends meet. A good wife will never question. A good wife does as she is told and a good wife remains within her limits. But when it comes to a woman we’re more than quick to judge. Why are the kids not dressed, it’s 1:30 PM, why is their son performing poorly in school is the mother not concerned about the child’s education? Why are the kids toys around, does she not know it is time for her husband to come home? Why does she not look pretty for him when he comes home, of course he will look at other women. Women are responsible for what they do, women are responsible for how their children turn out and women are also responsible for their husband’s flaws and faults. Women are under extreme pressure and it is horribly unfair. Every woman I talk to who works complains about the same thing and after the conversation she goes back to this life.

We present working women as some kind of evil, selfish, independent and strong beings. We are hardly evil and selfish and we are struggling everyday to be independent and strong. We’re still living and managing our households the way our mothers did. Let me remind you they were only housewives, and we are also working exactly like our fathers and husbands do, pretending that we have no children to take of or house to manage because our wives are doing all that.

I’ve been a house wife and stay-at-home mother and I’ve also been and currently am a working mother. It’s absolutely amazing taking care of your children, it’s a blessing to watch them grow, learn new activities and love you back. It’s also satisfying to clean up the house and make breakfast, lunch and dinner. But it is not one project that ends, it is work, real work, tougher than a business deal work, it is hard work that you do every single day. You don’t get to hear ‘good job’ from your colleagues or boss after you clean the dishes. There are no end-of-project dinners. There is no praise or acknowledgement from anyone. It is hard work every single day, without the rewards work offers. I have so much respect for women who manage families, in-laws, children and their husbands without a salary, without raises and without any acknowledgement or praise from society.

As most men in our society have never really had to manage kids, food, laundry, in-laws, servants, and a house on their own, there are a lot of ridiculous assumptions. Firstly, housewives sit and don’t do much with their day. Completely false. They’re working as a cook, a nanny, a driver, a maid, a teacher and a manager every single day. Without the salary. Housewives don’t work and are dependent on their husbands financially. And because they’re not earning, they’re often told that they are wasting money and have no idea how difficult it is to make a living. Their spending is always criticised, even if it is to feed and clothe the family. Let me take a moment and applaud our mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers and aunts for doing so much and still treating their husbands like kings who have had a tougher day than they’ve had.

In case a woman gets tired of hearing all this and ventures into the real world, she’s accused of not paying enough attention to the house or kids because she is a career oriented, selfish woman. There are men who want to take advantage of her and that is why she should not interact with male colleagues. The problem is not with women, of course men trust them completely but they do not trust the other gender. Let us not forget that this husband also has female colleagues who he’s very friendly with. But it’s different for guys right?

So why do I keep hearing this and why do we continue to make lives difficult for women? Why is it that most of the time it is us, women, who make lives difficult for ourselves. We should take care of our partner, we should love and attend to them completely, but why is it that we serve men first, then our children and the left-overs are for us. Why can we not just share? Why don’t we understand that our women; be it our mother, mother-in-law, sister, or wife are working as hard as our men. And they usually do it without a lunch break.

We respect and hold women, on a pedestal, but that does not translate into justice and a fair living for us. I blame us, women, for this blatant inequality. We need to educate our sons not just in schools, but also at home so they may become ‘partners’ rather than ‘dictators’ when it comes to their wives. A wife is not a man’s property, she is not his servant, she is not there to fulfil his needs. She is his equal, sh has the same rights in a marriage that a man does. The Prophet’s first wife, Khadija, whom he loved dearly, was not a woman who stayed at home. She was a businesswoman. He married her when she was a businesswoman and he stayed faithful and married to her until she died as an entrepreneur. What are we teaching our children? We teach our girls to be good wives, by being the best example for them.  We raise them to understand the struggle a man goes through each day while he is working in the cruel harsh world. Through words and actions both we ensure our daughters know that a man’s coming home is to be celebrated. But what are we teaching our sons of the struggles of a woman? What are we teaching them when we undermine a woman’s efforts and pain by saying, ‘oh everyone gives birth’ and ‘she’s not doing something special if she is taking care of her own children.’  We’re teaching them to disrespect the very reason why a mother is said to have heaven beneath her feet. We’re teaching them to take a woman for granted and propagating the belief that raising children and managing a household is easy and invaluable.

Our sons should have the exact set of skills that a woman has when it comes to raising a family. We should prepare them to be true partners so the burden is shared. Just like we encourage our daughters to do well at school we should encourage our boys to help out at home. Real education begins at home. Let us make a change.