Education, India, Me, Sharing views


Back when we were kids and needed to fill up any forms where parents’ occupation needed to be mentioned, I remember putting ‘housewife’ in the blank for Mom’s. It was an accepted term and no second thought was given to it. Mom seemed completely alright with it too.

Our generation, however, has found new ways of tagging and referencing. Somewhere between the advent of internet, pagers, mobile phones and smart phones we created and learnt a lot of new terms; some for convenience and some for comfort. Also responsible for it are the fast changing social and economic balances in households.

One such fancy term that has kept me interested is SAHM ( Stay At Home Mom). I wish I knew whose brainwave this was and what went behind coining it. Was it some feminist who thought being called a housewife suddenly became demeaning or the outcome of some bored journalist working overtime?

Many of us who had mothers who were housewives would remember what a blessing it was to come home from school or play to a plate of warm home-cooked food or a glass of warm (albeit sometimes forced) milk. We didn’t need to bother about these things for ourselves. It is true that we were spoiled to a certain extent and took our moms for granted, but then working moms aren’t spared from that too!

Ours was a typical middle-class household where roles of both the parents were well defined. Dad earned and mom looked after everything else.We didn’t have any working mothers around us, hence thankfully there was no comparison, good or otherwise, either. For Mom it was a natural thing and she didn’t feel that she was doing anything glamourous. The world of today, however, is a far cry from that world.

Educated women like me today face bias and judgement from both sides. It is almost as if being qualified is a bane for us. I’ve been scoffed at for trading a well-paying job for a pure domestic life at times, and am also made to feel guilty if I choose to leave the kids behind for an afternoon on my own. If I say I’m a housewife I get sheepish reactions, but if I say I’m a SAHM I sound modern and updated.

I wonder if this is what triggered the term in the first place. A housewife is assumed to be someone who probably has no career prospects or aspirations, but a SAHM like me is qualified for everything she can want to be but chooses to be a domestic goddess. See the difference?

To be honest, to me the SAHM term feels comfortable. Although all women are housewives, is what I feel. A housewife is a homemaker and a woman makes a home a home, working or otherwise. Anyone is free to disagree. In our society or anywhere else for that matter, can a woman completely wash her hands off her family responsibilities?

I might do some freelance work and earn more than an average paid working woman, but still I’d be a SAHM. So, the glass is half-full or half-empty depends on how one sees it. Perception issues? ☺

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  1. My understanding is that housewife is/was the English translation for grahndi and was a term used only in India. The term outside of India was always homemaker before you had kids and then stay at home mom once you had kids. Now of course the term has made its way to India and being used by the educated women that you mention.

    1. I don’t know if housewife was used outside India or not, honestly. But yes, along with all the other ‘western’ things that are making their place in our society, this term has reached here too. I don’t mind it. Homemaker sounds nice. ☺

  2. Anagha Yatin says:

    This reminds me of a story of father son and their donkey. People will always have opinions this way or that way.
    Housewife/home maker / home minister and many such adjectives now adorn profile of those who engage themselves at home front. But I feel do we need these adjectives? Why cant we be just me, sans any decorative word?
    A very profound post Varsh!

  3. Words and terms may have become fancy, but peoples thought process sadly still remains outdated. These labels are only dividing women, and not uniting them.
    Loved this honest and balanced post, Varsha.

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