Confessions of a New Housewife

Posted on March 15, 2011

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They still are like foreign agents to my lips – the words – wife, husband, married; the less said the better about my new found identity as a HOUSEWIFE. It hit me when I was filling in the immigration form just before landing in America. “Occupation” demanded the cruel white sheet. Somewhat belligerently, I wrote – “HOUSEWIFE”. Full marks to my new husband for squeezing my hand and smiling sympathetically.

The background? Till a few months ago, I was this hot-stuff thing – had a hotshot job that paid me more money than I could spend (yes, that happens), it gave me the satisfaction of contributing to the development of lakhs of children across India, it allowed me to send money back home and it led me to have a comfortable and easy life. I lived by the sea with a flatmate, went to the poshest gym in town, treated my less fortunate friends to expensive meals once in a way and flew home whenever I felt like surprising my dad.

Now? I was on a plane to the US with my HUSBAND. I have no job because I don’t have the necessary work visa. I literally had no $$$ in my pocket and I was sitting on the prospect of staying at home all day while he went to school and eventually would go to work! I felt scared. Okay, I panicked. I couldn’t breathe. I felt insignificant, exactly like the women I never wanted to become – DEPENDENT!

And then it occured to me, this is a challenge. Not in terms of a KRA to excel in or a lofty target at work to achieve. This was a challenge to my self-esteem. (Portion of this post has been edited based on discussions on Facebook :D)

I wasn’t born earning, was I? For 20-odd years I was fed, clothed and protected by my parents. I may have felt indignant once or twice when they refused to let me have what I wanted as a child, but I don’t remember feeling vindictive or all up in arms simply because I didn’t have MY money! I trusted that they would love me and care for me as long as I lived. In fact, my mother trusted me back. She would give me large sums of money and ask me to pay the household bills. I hardly cheated. Initially I would take Rs. 100 for my own expenses without letting her know. But soon I realised it was hurting the whole household, and I had to stop. I didn’t confess to her, but I stopped stealing.

Then why was the prospect of trusting my husband, a man that I promised to love and cherish in sickness and in health, till death do-us-apart, seem so difficult. I realised it had nothing to do with him, but it had to with me. I somewhere MAY have felt that coming away like this is a sacrifice – giving up my job, my life back home, family – friends and blah blah. The truth is, my marriage was not arranged. It was LOVE. I chose this person, whose reality was known to me, whose plans were known to me. And I had taken this step to come here, simply because I did like him and wanted that welcome break for a year at least to do things I have always wanted to. When I felt scared, I forgot how he had promised to let me engage myself in anyway I deemed fit. I didn’t even have the obligations of cooking and cleaning. I could go to any dance class I liked, join any literary club, watch TV for as long as I wanted or volunteer with any cause that I wanted.

I, like many other women, most other women and men in fact, think that what I earn, or where I contribute determines who I am. But this is the first time in my 29 years that I truly have the chance to explore who I am!! My life is my tennis court now. Will I sit and while away my time? Will I find my routine, and in it my feet? Didn’t I always want to write without being interrupted by deadlines? Didn’t I always want to jump between one dance form and another? Didn’t I always want to be able to meditate in the morning without having to rush off to work?

I think, this role as a housewife is going to define who I am as a person – Am I someone secure who can trust the man I married? Am I that someone who won’t get complacent when she has “nothing to do”? Can I be that someone who uses the chance that life has given her? Or will I be that someone who will complain about the life she HAD to leave behind?

I know that becoming this secure person is not easy. It is like casting away everything that I believed in and staying out of the rat race consciously. I know that there will be struggles. But when I look right next to me, I see a friend…a friend who in that first moment of panic squeezed my hand and reassured me.

Can I be a good housewife? Will keep you updated.

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Posted in: Relationships