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A Housewife or A Home Relationship Officer

By: Sudha Subramanian
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I have never understood the word housewife. What it means and how it applies to people. Of the numerous people you meet and you are asked - so, what do you do and the prompt answer should be about what you do and not being housewife. To quote from the dictionary, housewife essentially means that it is applies to people who are wives and stay at home. So, it still does not actually qualify to be answer to what one does. The present day counterpart to this term is home maker. It perhaps means a person who can make a house a home meaning keeping the home warm and cozy with lots of love. So, does this word qualify as the answer? Perhaps not because it is not what you do, it is also what you do. So, what exactly should be answered to what you do?

It is funny that in this world why anybody would care about what you do. Having said that, it is still relevant a question because the answer to it can hold the key to the continuance of conversation and yes, it is important to do something. But the answer to that if is housewife or home maker, then, it is technically wrong. But, for many years now, the answer has come to acceptance and many people use it. The life that one has to lead where days go by from one meal to another and one mop to another mop is not so glamorous. It neither pays nor has any coffee table discussions worth. It is however physically exhausting and monotonous. Of course you can get creative is a pat in the back which translates to carry on the boring work. However there is solace or a wow moment when someone in a group says it is better to go for work in an office than do such a difficult task at home. Yet, the title is not good enough to sit back with.

The other problem that you encounter is when you have to state your profession in any given application form. People just get curious - dont they? The best suggestion is to leave it blank if you dont have one. Sometimes, it is frustrating to see - housewife/home maker written in this column. Surely, you didnt go to a college and learn to be a house wife. It is not something you practice. It is something you are. It is like writing - father/mother in the column. If eyebrows are raised for this then, surely enough homemaker is equally wrong. The most annoying thing would be fill out an application form for a health club where you are asked your profession and someone suggests - well, you dont work then, write house wife. Well, what it actually means is yes, you dont work and get paid but you slog it out at home!!

Yes, you get a lot of things going. You cook and clean, get the clothes done, know your neighbours (even the good ones from the bad ones), know how to get the drain pipe fixed in the bath from the building maintenance, know which grocery has the greener and fresher veggies, know all the likes and dislikes of parents and parents in law, remember all the bdays, anniversaries of not just yours but the entire familys, call all the people in the family on and off and maintain good relationships. When there are guests and they also stay long, you take good care of them by cooking, cleaning and taking them out because your partner (poor thing has to go to office and has no time), and if you happen to be a parent then, you also manage your kid by putting up with his/her tantrum and also getting the home work done. And, if all this is not enough of course, you have to wait for the spouse to return home before you can have your dinner. This perhaps is the job profile for any decent house wife to abide by. The word house wife does not actually deliver the enormity of responsibility you shoulder. This profile you take charge from the day one and you are also expected to excel though you have had no prior experience nor any educational qualification to support it.

In a business set up, periodic management meetings, discussions, and training take place for effective performance. Of course, such a luxury is unheard of to a housewife and yes, and such thoughts are always attracting laughter. But, on a serious thought, when such an onus is rendered on shoulders, would some basic training not be a pre requisite. Perhaps these are some of the natural things that people do and are maybe in born. But, if people management training is rendered in offices then, is people management not done at home. Is keeping the members of the family in good spirit, and all the relationships going not people management/relationship management . The answer lies in the fact that importance is never ever given to the one who gets the things going at home. There is a lot in askance for investment which is perhaps for many is unaffordable. We are talking about time, emotion, love, patience, and again time. The need of the hour is to coin a better glamorous title.

One over heard answer for the question what you do is - I do a lot of things ya. It is just that I do it at home. It is one of the most thankless jobs. But yes, I still have to do it. I never get paid, I dont get the Sundays off, I dont get a bonus based on my performance, My appraisal is done by almost everyone and I never top. Yes, the one thing I do feel happy about this job is when my son hugs me and kisses me with all his love, it just makes all the work worth it.

As an after thought why dont we all come up with this new term - HRO (Home Relationship Officer). It is just that the term officer adds up to a lot of glamour and may be bag a salute from the security every time you enter the building!

Sudha Subramanian

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