(Chapter from a book titled “ To My Dear Daughter” (Translated))
My Most Loving Shuchi!
I have immeasurable faith in the young generation. Youth is a nation’s asset, tomorrow’s future. What does one say about today’s young women! She has to build a new society. Her hopes, wishes, dreams, problems and struggles must become a matter of genuine concern of the entire society. Today, when women have marched onto the road of equality, self-esteem and rights, we need to consider the pros and cons of the reverberations that they create.
The movement for women’s freedom is the revolutionary event of the 21st century! The movement has affected phenomenal change in man-woman relationship as well as for family and social life. It has become a great challenge. Before we delve deeper into it, it will be necessary to understand and know the psychology of the modern woman.
Until the seventh decade of the 20th century, women were silenced by ominous slogans and forced myths placed by the scriptural doctrine where “woman was compared to a goddess” who should be worshipped as she manifested creation – “Aditya Shakti”. Decade of 1970, saw an emergence of a new woman – emancipation. She was awakened to a concept of choice and personal freedom as she embarked in the open world.
Shuchi! I want to discuss these points with you as they tell the story of young women like you. New age girls are now aware. What they want is recognition and acceptance of their independent identity, which was unrecognized and suppressed till now. Woman, undoubtedly, is a wife and mother, too, however; she is a living throbbing individual, also. She considers it as her right to live with respect and glory.
She finds marriage a welcome and necessary event, but not inevitable. She no longer accepts one-sided adjustment. For her – husband may hold a high reverence, but – “Pati Parmeshawar” is an obsolete concept. She is a willing partner when he is loving, gentle and ready to be her true support. She no longer feels obligated to tolerate an abusive or imbalanced relationship. In this way, the modern age woman is searching for new equations of relationship. She is looking for such relationships that keep her identity intact and help it grow. She is ready to assert herself and as needed fight for it.
Winston Churchill had once remarked, “Dreams are always sweet but the prime duty of a human being is to make the reality sweet.” It is a wonder to see in how many areas she is performing her jobs – just to prove that her dreams come true.
Go anywhere today and you will find women overshadowing men in variety of fields. In courts and in offices, in banks and in big corporations, in variety of professions – women are significant force and contributors. We see them successfully working in higher positions, too. She is in “Space” and we find her in the deep seas. She is there at the highest position of a president and as a Prime Minister, too. We find women in all professional fields and other than specialized fields. She has self-confidence, passion in her heart and vibrancy in her feet. In professional courses, we find half of the graduate pass-outs comprised of women. We have to admit that the world is fast becoming a women’s world!
Today’s times present a galore of opportunities for women. She has freedom of choice. She has scope for choice. Horizons in all directions are getting expanded. A rivulet is on the verge of becoming a gigantic river. Dr. Christopher Hayes says that – A woman can become her own star / ideal. We see women everywhere. It feels as if the world is fast becoming the world of women.
Shuchi! This is not mere day dreaming or a wishful thinking. It is a concrete fact. A recent survey by a German Television Entertainment Channel on the Internet surveyed about 2000 men and women and confirmed this fact. Majority of men opined that the world is becoming more and more women oriented. Her writ looms large over most of the things. “World is dominated by the better half and they have moved away from their traditional role in society.” Men feel that they have to follow the standards that women establish. The survey also revealed that creating a balance between Home and Workplace is really getting tougher and tougher for women.
I cannot say whether this is good or not! But the wheel of time is relentlessly moving forward and we know that change is the law of nature. As fallout of this law, the place and role of men in society are fast changing. Women are spreading their wings to soar higher and higher. The weaker sex has become stronger and efficient one. It is a matter of pride that women are standing tall with their male counterpart and shouldering responsibility of this great country and offering service to the society. But Shuchi! There are a few challenges associated with these achievements. Shall I say something about it now?
Many men are either jealous or angry with women who have a flourishing career. They find in these women potential competitors. Men want their wives to work. They also want to have two cheques adding to the family’s kitty. But a wife who is more successful and earning more and efficient becomes intolerable. He finds the situation insulting and his ego gets hurt. He feels as if his bastion is in danger. On the other hand, women, too, face certain problems. She wants to celebrate the happiness and glory of her success and achievements. She doesn’t want to live a life of a mere housewife as her work as a housewife, though invaluable; remains utterly unappreciated. She understands the importance of economic independence. She, too, wants many things in this age of consumerism. She wants good higher quality of education for her children and a higher lifestyle, too. She feels that she must be take an advantage of the opportunities by using her education and efficiency to earn a good living.
She wants to assert her identity, at the same time, wishes for a man who is more successful than she herself is. She seeks one whom she can love, respect and who helps her in raising their children. Don’t you agree that her expectations from a man are too onerous, Shuchi! Isn’t it? This is the reason why perhaps women face disappointments associated with her efforts to want it all…
Shuchi! These false expectations cast their shadow in their married and family lives. There has been a sharp rise in divorces during the last five years among the young couples aged 25-35 years. As a consequence, the stable domestic life has been stressed.
Woman strives to play both the roles – the wife-mother role versus the professional role with efficiency and with great commitment. Yet, husband and family frequently remain discontent. Let me tell you why.
Husband, from his point of view, wants a wife who is agreeable and always available to serve him. Father-in-law and mother-in-law want a daughter-in-law who listens to their commands ready to serve them. And children! They want a loving mother. They want to see her when they return from school or when they come back after a play session with their friends. And at workplace! She needs to work with efficiency and rise up to a senior officer’s expectations.
Shuchi! Dear daughter! Think about the number and variety of expectations from her. This is why I feel sad for the young women who strive to strike a balance between both domestic life and life at workplace. She is torn between the divergent roles she has to play at two different places demanding variety of skills from her. A thought always crosses my mind, Shuchi! Why can’t there be a situation in which women can perform these diverse responsibilities easily? Let me cite an example-
Varsha has been in the USA for many years. She is a graphic designer. She lives with her husband and two sons. She says, “My working day never ends. The given 24 hours are too few for me. There is no personal time or leisure time.” In short, a woman has to sacrifice her leisure. She remains troubled, tired and feels unappreciated. And yet, young women today wish to succeed in both, their domestic lives and professional roles. Though her expectations are just and natural but achieving a balance between the two has become a serious challenge.
Even today, major part of domestic roles and children’s responsibility lies with women. How can a baby sitter for infants or a crèche-employee replace a mother’s lap? Many a times, a young woman has to relinquish her job or profession to tend to her new born child. What if she gives birth to her second child within the space of two or three years? She has to be away from job or profession for a gap of 5 to 6 years. It becomes difficult to get back to a job after that or to establish a new business. The professional scene tools & techniques change so fast that the gap of 5 to 6 years becomes insurmountable and one tends to become obsolete in the market. You are thrown out of the market. The woman has to find a solution to this phenomenon, too.
Asmita is an architect. She is in a high position in a bank there. I have seen her balancing her professional and domestic roles. She has a happy family life. Her family is happy with her and she is satisfied with her career.
I asked her, ‘Asmita, how do you manage these things? It is one thing to be a housewife and it’s a different ball game at the professional front. One can understand it. However, I wonder how you coordinate both these roles? As a reply to this question, she gave me quite a few interesting tips.
“You need to be loving and understanding / wisdom” she said with a smile on her face.
Time management is of great importance for this. One has to learn it. We need to use our time and energy to the optimum level. One needs to prioritize important and necessary tasks and invest time in them. Husband, children and domestic tasks have to be kept in mind while allocating time and priority according to the need of the situation. Plan the domestic tasks and keep room for occasional changes that become imperative. Never wasting any time and energy in meaningless, unnecessary and insignificant tasks should be the maxim.
Ask your children about their day and the happenings at school. Talk to your husband about his day at the office and listen to what he says with a smiling face. Dine together, laugh together, talk to each other and share with each other. These are things that are important and work in developing happy relationships. Put aside the workplace façade at the threshold, bring out your feminity, recalibrate your mindset and become an efficient housewife, loving wife and darling mother in a manner you change your footwear and dress after coming from workplace.
I know Shuchi! You will argue that a woman is not a television set who can change the channels according to her need. I am aware that the set of values and temperament one needs in the external world greatly differ compared to those required at home… don’t you think it is very difficult? I know it is.
In office, you have to work with your seniors and get work done through subordinates. You have to do it all tactfully. You need cooperation from all. You have to seek it with firmness and professionally. Here is the secret. At home also, you have to seek cooperation from your husband, children and other family members. You need an understanding nature, love, tact and appreciation. You need to possess the skill of how to work and how to get work done. Learn when to hold on to your opinion and when to bend, and letting it go. Be consistent, Asmita had shared. Colleagues at workplace and at home know you as you are and that builds trust. Trust is crucial in a relationship.
Shuchi! Try and not think how hard you are working, express power of earning money, and that somehow imply that you are obliging your husband. Bruising your husband’s ego with subtle reminder is a sign of immaturity. Living with mental discipline, serenity and patience is a way to win love and respect from all. Don’t you think that this itself is a great achievement or success?
Shuchi! Let me talk about success in professional life. This is the age of brutal competition. You have to be assertive while being cautious of not becoming aggressive. Opportunities for progress and success do not get served on a silver platter. One has to be a little enterprising and courageous. Our approach and attitude towards work, too, is very important. Set a target in the initial stage and start adding quality to your work. Add value to your work. Do all the tasks with full commitment. Success has to follow. I know that all these things are very difficult and hard to achieve. But my darling! Who has ever succeeded without hard work?
Shuchi! I am trying to come to an important point. For a woman, to balance and succeed with her domestic and professional life, she needs a life-partner who has self-confidence, possesses resilience and demonstrates steadfastness for life. Supportive family eases tension leading to a harmonious and togetherness.
She should be flexible and release her pre-established ideas. As in a workplace, flexibility, mental openness and patience will enrich the married life. In place, she is to consider – why can’t we do it like this? Or we can do it this way, too.
Over and above all this, it is necessary that a woman has to find time for herself, too. She has to keep her body and mind healthy. She will have to learn the art of finding quality leisure (disconnect [‘my time’]) time from the hectic schedule of her domestic and career life. It is of paramount importance that she spends some time on her favorite hobby like – music, literature, sports or any other hobby. She needs both – exercise and meditation.
She has a personal obligation to spare time for physical health, mental zeal and nourishing her core self. Shuchi! The fact is that woman becomes guilt conscious the moment she spends time for herself or does something for herself. I have to ask the big question – why?