Mujhe suddenly Mira Rajput pe gussa kyun aata hai?
Now how funny is it that my Dad beat Mira Rajput to the child/dog comparison TEN YEARS AGO? Only difference, he did it appreciatively!
Important Context: Since I don’t have the time or the inclination to draw an elaborate picture of the household that I grew up in, I’m going to borrow a little bit of Philsosophy. When it came to parental responsibilities with regard to child-rearing at home, the situation can be summed up thus:
“We’re not going to play good cop/mom…”
-Phil Dunphy (Modern Family, Season 2, Ep.3)
To get down to the real story, once upon a time in 2007, I was set to give my class ten board exams when Good Cop aka Dad found this advertisement in the newspaper which he found absolutely hilarious. Here’s why. My mum’s name was abbreviated by her colleagues to Addy, and we used to have German Shepherd who was quite a handful. So given how hard my mum had to work to keep me on the straight and narrow (particularly during a board exam year), we had a solid chuckle about how appropriate this ad was for the situation.
But you know why I still carry this around ten years later, even years after Addy, the dog-trainer , has decided I’m well trained enough to let off the leash? Because it reminds me of how much my working mother who is incredibly successful at her job did for me. What follows is in no way a comprehensive list of what she did for the family or a love letter to mum (that will take a few books, a few more if Dad decides to pitch in), but impressionistic though this list is, I hope it gets my point across. In addition to doing all the basic things parents do to keep kids alive (feed, clean, clothe, vaccinate, blah blah blah) she supervised my studies (because I couldn’t be less bothered); she took me to dance classes (where I would refuse to emote, coz I was too cool for Kuchipudi, and Shaimak Davar was just too shiny for my tastes); she took me to swimming lessons (I loved it even though I was convinced there was a real possibility of a shark attack in a pool); she took me to skating classes; she took me for music lessons (where I had too much fun for the teacher’s liking); and she even had faith I could draw (I really can’t). She drove me to play-dates and parties, was infinitely patient while I decided how I wanted to do my school projects with no regard for how much more work it would mean for her. She let me be whatever and whoever I wanted to be and did everything in her power to support me in ways I did not discern till I grew up. She was my constant cheerleader. She also was the first to call me out when I was being a dick (still does). Basically, she made me a decent human being. Short of hot-wiring the world and creating more hours in a day, she gives so much of herself to me and Dad every single day. And she did all of this while bringing her A game to her job and took great pleasure and pride in her professional success.
So yeah Mira, working mothers don’t exactly see their kids as puppies. Even if they do, I’m definitely not complaining. AND. I am not an exception. I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by women who’ve worked, who’ve played, who’ve handled their households with military precision, and brought up good kids. And I am not trying to fetishize the ‘supermom’ phenomenon because it is a gendered ideal that is frankly exhausting. But these women fought for their right to work, they pushed back against patriarchy (whether they articulated it as such or not), and they created better work-life conditions for their children just by inhabiting the public space and economy in the way in which they did.
Let me also add that I come from a hetero-normative, privileged, educated family. And even I’m chafing at your comment while there are individuals and families who don’t fit into neat, socially acceptable gender/economic categories and aspire to work and raise families. To question their love or dedication to their children is absurd at best. Furthermore, there are parents who may not have the luxury of not working. Most importantly, work is not necessarily displaced from the home. While I’ve so far conveniently referred to ‘work’ as it is normally and problematically understood and assessed, house-work is most definitely work. A lot of ‘homemakers’ are responsible for or subjected to so much work within the domestic space that they might actually not have much time with their own children whatever their personal desires may be.
So check your privilege before you make lazy comparisons, Mira. I can be momentarily charitable and imagine that your comment wasn’t designed to insult. However, like it or not, you are a public figure, your personal opinion will become part of public discourse and will be mobilized and responded to as such. My little rant might therefore be slightly disproportionate as a reaction to your throwaway comment. But in my defense, this is more to mitigate as the validation the celebrity value of your statement might give to similar (more viciously presented) arguments against working women. So take a little time (you’ve got time, you don’t have to work. Yes, that’s mean-spirited snark. Please reach out to my mum, perhaps she can iron it out of me) and think before you speak. You don’t need to agree with me, but you could present your opinion more sensitively and with greater empathy.
Warning: This is a lazy response to a lazy comment. So much more to say, so many terms to unpack. Polite feedback welcome.