The Misunderstood Life of a Homemaker: A Plea for Respect and Understanding

As a homemaker, I am often met with the misconception that my days are filled with nothing but leisure. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite the advancements of the 21st century, society still holds a narrow-minded view of women who choose to be homemakers. The assumption is that we are perpetually free, with “loads and loads” of time on our hands, and our days are consumed by frivolous activities like watching soaps and gossiping with neighbors. This couldn’t be further from reality. My mother was a homemaker, and I never saw her free even for a moment during the day. Back then, families rarely hired domestic help, so my mother was constantly occupied with her chores from dawn to dusk. She was an exceptional cook, preparing a different menu every day, meticulously selecting vegetables and greens. Thankfully, my father was an expert in cutting vegetables and helped her out whenever possible. I believe her active lifestyle is the sole reason for her robust health in her late seventies. Yes, I have a domestic help, and I enjoy watching movies, but that doesn’t mean I’m free all day. I have my own set of responsibilities, including chores, repairs and maintenance, doctor visits, daily walks, hobbies, and more, keeping me busy throughout the day. One day, while discussing my son’s 10th-grade marks with an old acquaintance, an elderly woman, I was met with immediate judgment. As his grades weren’t exceptional, she quickly remarked, “You are at home all the time… why don’t you concentrate more on his studies… are you sitting beside him when he studies? Do you give him regular tests?” In her eyes, my lack of involvement in my son’s studies was a reflection of my failure as a homemaker. It’s as if being a homemaker implies an obligation to ensure outstanding academic performance for your children. If the grades aren’t top-notch, it’s assumed that the mother is simply not doing her job well enough, implying she’s wasting her time on inconsequential matters. The other day, my neighbor approached me with a request. She needed someone to help her build new software for a “politically well-connected” friend, all for free, of course. I politely declined, stating that I didn’t have the time. Her response was, “Oh come on, you are at home, right (meaning you are jobless)? Why don’t you take it as an opportunity to revisit your programming skills (else, what is the use of studying anyway)? You can put your free time (that is all day) to some good use…” Her words reflected the underlying assumption that because I’m a homemaker, I’m financially insecure and have an abundance of free time, which I should be using to work for others without compensation. This perception is both disheartening and demeaning. Social gatherings often bring their own set of challenges. I frequently encounter elderly individuals eager to dispense unsolicited advice: “Oh… You quit your job… good… take rest (meaning sleep and watch TV all day)… you know jobs are very stressful nowadays (which means homemakers are stress-free)… why don’t you start taking tuitions during the evenings… you know it is very profitable… you know Mrs. so-and-so from so-and-so place (his distant relative)… she is earning in thousands every month… She handles tuitions for children up to 12th standard. She is a very smart woman (that is, someone who has a good income)…” When I politely explain that I don’t have the space for multiple students, the response is often, “Why don’t you try taking online tuitions… I know Ms. so-and-so who does that… it seems the pay is very good nowadays…” This continuous pressure to monetize every spare moment, even at the expense of personal space and well-being, highlights the narrow and judgmental view society holds of homemakers. It seems that in society’s eyes, only those who earn are considered smart and talented, while the rest are deemed dumb and unfortunate. Individuals, regardless of gender, choose to stay home for various reasons: health issues, family circumstances, or simply a desire to step away from the rat race. It’s time society recognized and respected these choices. We need to move beyond the outdated and harmful stereotypes that perpetuate the misconception that homemakers are idle and financially insecure. It’s time to embrace the idea of “live and let live,” allowing individuals to make their own choices and live their lives in peace.

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