ORGANIZED WORKING HOMEMAKER

I was a working professional earlier but 10 years ago due to personal reasons I quit and became a full-time homemaker. Last year I tried doing some work from home assignments but it didn’t work out satisfactorily. Now after a huge gap of 10 years I started working at a school.

And I tell you my confidence in myself was very low. All sorts of apprehensions were there in my mind both on the work front and the home front. And my biggest worry was “How will I manage both together? Both the fronts being equally demanding.”

Let me share whatever little I learnt.

  • Compartmentalize:

This is the first thing I learnt when I started working again. My work life and personal life are two compartments in my head. When I am at work I leave all my worries about home in the other compartment. And at home, I don’t worry about my school work, students etc because I think if you have to give your hundred per cent to something then all your thoughts should be centred on that. This has come naturally to me. As in school we teachers are away from our phones most of the time, its only after the students leave that we can use our phones so the distraction is not there. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule like if someone in the family is not well at home then you need to check on that person from time to time. Or vice versa, being a pre-primary teacher there is a lot of craft work to be done and at times I need to bring craft work home to complete. But still, I try that they remain the exceptions and not become a practice.

  • Plan Ahead:

This I tell you is the most important rule. And most difficult for me to implement. I have always been a last minute person. I could never make timetables and plans and if I made I wouldn’t be able to stick to them. But I realised the importance of this when I joined the school. Here we have weekly plans for all subject and all topics are divided so that we are able to cover them through the week. I realised how easy life becomes when you plan the whole week. Life is sorted, everyday morning we just need to check the work for the day and move ahead. Every time need not worry about the big picture. I am trying to implement this kind of planning at home also. If the menu etc is set for the week then groceries can be bought at one go during the weekend and last minute rushing to the supermarket can be avoided. Saves a lot of time and headaches. This project of mine is still work in progress but I have met a few homemakers who plan menus etc in advance and it really works for them.

  • Build a support system

If you are a working professional and have children at home you need a support system. I have two teenaged kids ideally they should have been pretty independent by now. But maybe me being at home has made them quiet dependent on me. Now I am working on making them responsible for their own work as I am not always around to help them. I am blessed to have my parents-in-laws staying with me who help in making my house run like clockwork even in my absence. Your husband, other members of your family, your friends and your maid they are all part of your support system. Build a strong connection with them. A strong support system is very necessary for a worry-free work life.

I am sure all the other working mothers would be able to add a lot more to my list I am still learning and discovering new rules of being a working homemaker. It is tough at times but still at the end of the day makes me feel satisfied that I am known by my name also not only as mother of so and so or wife of so and so.

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WHAT’S A HOME? – VII

It was a lazy Saturday but Meghana was busy preparing Animesh’s favourite Aloo Parantha with Pudina Chutny as he had agreed to come for breakfast that day. He was leaving India that night so Manu suggested that they invite him for breakfast at least, before he leaves.

It had already been a week since that day when Meghana left the house without paying any heed to her household responsibilities… without even caring for anything… But Animesh’s entry into the scene suddenly allowed her to look at things differently. She knows that she can’t go back to her old self as that will be so impractical because they both have changed, people around them have changed, their situations have changed. But she realised that there’s something that needs to be changed to restore the beauty of their marriage. She kept on pondering about this the whole week, especially Manu’s absolute silence.

Meghana had shared with Manu about Animesh and his plight – all that he had gone through in his life, yet how he had been managing to be happy and cheerful all the time. So Manu was careful while talking to Animesh when he came for an hour and had his favourite food along with them all before bidding goodbye to his best friend and her family.

Manu left for his work after Animesh’s departure and Kabir went along with his Nana ji as Meghana requested him to do so for this weekend. Her parents always loved the presence of their grandson. Kabir too loved to be pampered by them.

Meghana began with her usual household chores one after another. She checked all the pockets of Manu’s shirts and trousers as she wanted to put them in the washing machine for a wash. But a piece of paper caught her attention. It was a receipt for a coffee bought from Blue Moon Cafeteria which startled her. She remembered the owner of that cafeteria… ‘Shikha Ma’am’. She had tried to encourage her when she was so frustrated and bitter that day. She really wasn’t attentive to her at all and came out of the café after sometime without heeding anything that she had told her. But how come Manu was there? Why did he visit that place? Was she missing out something? Is this why he remains so quiet these days?

Questions like these popped up in her mind and disturbed her. Many things came to her mind which she tried to brush off, but could not. She quickened her hands and finished all her work as soon as possible. She took a quick shower, ate her lunch and walked out of the house.

Welcome back my child…” came the words from the owner of that cafeteria as soon as Meghana pushed open the glass door of Blue Moon Cafeteria.

She smiled back and nodded, “Hello Ma’am, thank you… How are you doing?”

“I am absolutely fine… How about you?” Shikha led Meghana to a table in the comfortable corner of the cafeteria and leaned over with her fists resting on the table.

“I am better… than how you saw me last, Ma’am.” Meghana replied with a gentle smile on her face as she sat down pulling a chair looking up at Shikha.

“I am happy… I was thinking about you all this time because I see myself in you.” Shikha responded clasping Meghana’s hand with hers.

Meghana was astonished to hear that. ‘Shikha is such a concerned lady…’ She thought and clasped back her fingers within her both palms. “You are so nice Ma’am… I was so rude that day… I apologise for that. I kind of lost myself that day… and…”

She was interrupted by Shikha when she started speaking, “Now don’t apologise to me for that… I felt it. I saw it in your face that day… I saw a young distressed Shikha in you, that day… Yes, I was like you… very jovial and very cheerful but my inner angst towards my life and towards my husband at a later stage destroyed my marriage… And when I realised it was too late… When I came to him….” She paused and sat down in front of her as tears rolled from her eyes. Meghana was confused seeing Shikha’s condition. “Ma’am…. What happened to him?” She asked.

Shikha continued wiping her tears… “I am sorry… I became bit emotional… He is still with me but lifeless… like a dead man… He met with an accident and severed his nervous system. He is paralysed for life.”

Meghana’s heart started to pound listening to Shikha. Her mind wandered around Animesh’s life story. She felt so blessed to have Manu still with her, safe and sound. She felt relieved as well as troubled thinking all that. She even forgot why she came here to this café when Shikha asked, “So what made you come here again dear?”

Meghana hesitated for a bit thinking what Shikha might think but decided to ask about Manu. She took out a photograph of Manu and showed Shikha asking, “Do you know this man who came and had a coffee here?”

Shikha smiled and said, “Yes, this man who is your husband came to this cafeteria an hour after you left that day. He was with a client. When he flapped open his wallet to pay me on the counter I found your picture in it coincidentally… And asked about it… He smiled and let me know about the female in the picture as his wife. And I thought of letting him know that you came and were very troubled and distressed. I also told him that probably his wife needed him desperately in her life. He went away without saying a word. I am sorry if I had disturbed your life more, dear…” Shikha was in an apologetic posture when she said that.

“No no… Not at all… in fact I thank you for doing that… He came to me immediately that day and I see a bit different Manu after that day.” Meghana gave a delightful glee when she came to know the secret behind Manu’s silence.

As they kept talking to each other more, Shikha let her understand how important her part in a marriage was, being a home maker. She also made her feel that Manu loves her so much and is equally struggling to come back to his old self as she is. She went back home with a new zeal and new enthusiasm to give it a try again after clearly understanding, ‘What’s a home?‘ in real sense though the result was still invisible and not evident to her then.

When Manu came back that evening he found her dressed with a beautiful red saree that he had given her in the initial years of their marriage. He was quietly admiring her beauty in his mind. Meghana smiled and brought tea, snacks etc. for him… She sat beside him with a hope as she wanted to say something but was apprehensive about it.

“Do you want to tell me something?”, Manu asked.

She felt her fingers go cold and mouth go dry. A negative response from him can push her back to her bitterness… But she decided… she will try… She will definitely take chances without caring about his responses… She smiled looking at him sipping his tea.

“Let’s go for a long ride, Manu! Meghana uttered those words more in a requesting tone, with her fingers crossed and expecting a ‘NO’ from him. But to her surprise he agreed immediately without uttering a word. Lo and behold soon they hit the road on his bike instead of their car.

Meghana sitting behind her beloved’s back, wrapping her arms around him, pressing her head on his back, feeling the force of the cool breeze hitting at her literally, blowing all her agony off her life at that particular moment. She knew it very well that nothing had really changed so drastically for her till then but she could surely see a ray of hope shining for her – for both of them. She didn’t think much but just closed her eyes feeling the warmth of love at that very moment instead of getting hyper for the unseen future.

THE END

WHAT’S A HOME? – I

The milk had boiled down onto the stove, hissing angrily onto the burner, the revolting stench of burnt milk filling the tiny kitchen. Meghana muttered tame curses under her breath. She began mopping up the spilt milk when the doorbell rang. ‘Manu! Please, get the door.’

Three seconds later, the doorbell rang again.

Manu?!’ No response.

She rushed to open the door for the milkman, paid him, slammed the door shut and ran to her son’s bedroom to wake him up. For the fifth time.

‘Kabir, beta, get up. It’s seven already, you have to be out by eight. Hurry!’ She threw his quilt back and picked up her eight-year-old in a bid to break his slumber. ‘Come on, wake up,’ she prodded him, ‘If you get late and miss the bus, I’ll have to drop you by the Metro. You don’t like the Metro, do you?’ He moaned a sleepy no. ‘Then go brush your teeth, bathe and come out and eat your breakfast.’ Off she went to the kitchen again, where she found her husband lazily reading the newspaper. ‘Manu, I called for you so many times. Where were you?’ That was more of a complaint than an actual question.

Arey baba, I was in the balcony reading the newspaper. Didn’t hear you.’ He replied, without so much as a hint of compunction.

Wah! You keep reading the newspaper, and I run around here barely managing to accomplish everything.’ She muttered.

Uff oh, stop nagging in the morning! Where’s my breakfast?’

‘Here,’ she handed him two plates of food and added, ‘Make sure Kabir finishes everything.’

She busied herself with their lunches. By the time she was done, it was nearly eight. She ran to the dining room with their lunches and found Kabir still picking at his food. ‘Kabir! Why haven’t you eaten anything? And Manu why didn’t you urge him to eat?’

No response again. She sighed and sat down on the table to help Kabir. After a few seconds she cleared her throat and said, ‘Manu, I have my dentist’s appointment in the afternoon.’

Manu humphed.

‘So, could you pick me up after the procedure is finished?’

His head jerked up, ‘What procedure?’

‘Extraction. My wisdom tooth. No rickshaws or cabs go there because it’s far. I won’t be able to talk much either. It will get difficult to come back by myself. Can you do it? Please…’

‘Tsk, Meghana. You know I hate this! I’m not going to be your chauffeur.’ He said dismissively.

‘Manu its only for today. I’ll be groggy with anaesthesia…’

‘No! Not today. Just write the address down on a piece of paper and show it to the rickshaw or cab walla.’

She stared at him, stunned. Then asked, ‘And what if he’s illiterate; because most of them are?’

‘Then don’t go. I can’t come with you today. I’m busy. Take another appointment.’ He got up and went to the bedroom to get his things.

She just sat there in silence, digesting his outright refusal and callousness. After twelve years of marriage, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to her but it did. And every time that happened she would go on a guilt trip – He’s busy. He’s got too much work. But of late she had noticed that he just didn’t want any responsibility beyond working and paying off the bills. She managed everything, right from Kabir’s PTA’s to the household chores and grocery shopping all by herself. And it was okay, really. It’s just that, sometimes, she thought, it would be nice if he could help, or just say – I’m there for you.

Manu and Kabir left, calling out byes to her that she didn’t hear because her head was muddled up. Maybe she was over-reacting. Maybe she was expecting too much. But today, she told herself, I don’t care. Anger surged over her.

I want to get away, she thought.

Forget the dentist. Forget everyone.

For just one day.

Within the hour, she was bathed, dressed, and without paying any heed to her household responsibilities, she was out of the house; she didn’t know where to, but she didn’t care…

Continue reading the next part HERE

PRESS THAT RESET BUTTON

The board exam results have come out. The parents whose kids have scored 85, 90, 95 % are celebrating. But have you seen the parents of a child who failed in a subject celebrating? Right now either the child is being berated for being good for nothing or else they are in depth of sorrow and worry about the future of their child.

Or take the case of the executive who worked very hard for a promotion. But when the actual letters came he was bypassed for someone less deserving. The executive along with his entire family went through​ a very bitter phase.

These are big  moments of life, it’s understandable to feel sad dejected and bitter. But for a person like me it’s very difficult to accept even small failures. I spent the whole afternoon arranging for ingredients of a cake and I sieved and measured and mixed and blended and baked. But the end result was an inedible lump rather than a beautiful cake. I was heart broken and spent the entire evening doubting all my capabilities as a homemaker or mother or wife etc etc. (Yes I do tend to overreact sometimes).

So when I first heard about the topic of the week “celebrating failures” I thought I really don’t know how to celebrate failures. I mean how can someone celebrate a failure when we have spent so much time and energy to actually achieve the opposite?

Here is what I understand about this concept. After a reasonable phase of dejection on failing we should first learn to accept our failure and try to look for causes. There are times when there is no visible reasons. Still accept the failure. Learn from it and step over it and move ahead. That I guess is the meaning of celebrating failures. Each failure also does a value add to our character​. It shapes our life and who we are. Failure is also a phase it will pass. It has given you an experience in life. It has made you stronger. So let’s take it in our stride and strive towards our goals again .

If the sun has set today, it will surely rise tomorrow. Till then let’s enjoy the beauty of the moon.

Celebrating could be as big as throwing a party and including the whole world around you. Or just treating yourself alone and resolving to do better the next time. Have you ever played a video game like car racing etc. No matter at what position you finish in the race there is always a reset button on the console. As soon as you press that button your car is back on the starting line ready to race again. Celebrating failure is that reset button in your life.

As for me I celebrated my cake debacle by ordering dinner from outside that day.