Call Me:

I’m a young mother and a housewife. There, I said it. And now here I stand, waiting for the barrage of criticism; for the arrogant, certain sense of superiority of working mothers to be thrown into my face; for those judgmental looks: “she’s stupid, unambitious, a fundo, badly educated, brainwashed, a slave to her husband and in-laws.” On a global level, looking at what’s said in the media, a stay-at-home-mom sounds like an insult to one’s humanity.

Society has nearly made being a mother and homemaker a sin. It’s a burden no one wants. It’s seen as a waste of talent, a lack of drive and too much dependence on men.

Our lives revolve around work. We are told only to draw satisfaction from selling one’s skills to the highest bidder (leftist, development-worker types will protest, but they don’t constitute even one percent of the country’s workforce). The ultimate goal in the world of today, is to strive hard and derive pleasure and achieve self-actualisation by selling off property, cars, insurance. Put a price tag on something, and sell it, and you create value where value didn’t exist. Raise good, cultured, well mannered, kind children, and well, you’re unfashionable and uncool. This is what makes a woman. This is the destiny that too many liberals and feminists in Pakistan desire. This is real achievement and independence. Feminists of the world unite, and rebel against the tyranny of men by selling lawn.

I find succour in the fact that while in most developed countries, the voices in the media, led by working female journalists and their friends, criticize this, most mothers would rather work part-time than full-time. They do not agree that the need for the biggest car, the best house and the latest lawn is greater than one’s family. At social gatherings, stay-at-home moms are treated like pariahs, only capable of talking about nappy changes and baby formula. They are to be pitied.

The joy of raising kids, of nourishing a young life – what greater pleasure can there be for any human being – male or female? Is this not why we admire teachers? Isn’t it an almost overwhelming responsibility; a sort of small evolutionary process that is not unguided – led by an able director – somewhat like a creationist’s evolution! The joy lies in teaching somebody to think, to admire the world, to imagine greatness, to appreciate the finer things in life, to be a good human being, to care deeply about others and our world, to help them (literally) find their feet and be something that counts for more than a price tag. Why are the skills of mothers being used in this way viewed as a waste?

What this society has failed to find is a great balance – you have rabid religious extremists and rabid liberal extremists. For both, the choices of women, are usually despised. Let us live. Let us once again admire our nurturing ability. There is no shame in being seen first as mothers – not just mothers, not only wives, not only daughters-in-law – yes, do not just reduce us to this, but being a mother before a worker in a corporation doesn’t sound demeaning to me. Then why must we, the myopic fools of the modern world, make it sound that way?

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