Almost every job has a retirement age, somewhere between 55 to 65 years. Why? Because your body is slowing down and so should you.
My parents retired earlier this year and the hassle-free life is proving to be quite agreeable to them. But, sadly, some things never change.
On one particularly strenuous day in the kitchen, my frazzled mom posed the question –
When will I get a retirement from the kitchen?
My mom started cooking for her family when she was a fourth grader – just 9 years old. My grandmother worked in a school that was far away from home and so she could only visit during the weekends. Thus, it was up to my mom to cook for her father before she went to school and after she returned, every single day.
Those were the days before refrigerators, mixer grinders and gas stoves, so you can imagine her struggle. She started her battle in the kitchen at 9 years of age and she hasn’t stopped since. You really can’t blame her for wanting a break.
Defining ‘Retirement from the Kitchen’
Retirement is defined as “the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work”
Many mothers wouldn’t dare call cooking a “job” because they were taught that it is a duty of emotional value to cook for the family. While occasional grumbling is acceptable, they would never go as far as to think of it as a hateful task (because rule #1 in ‘How to Become a Good Mother’ prescribes putting the family’s needs before your own. Always).
But if given the choice, and if it didn’t hurt the sentiments of the family members, she would gladly put the pots and spoons away and take a long-overdue break.
She would, but not forever.
As much as the Indian mother needs rest, she does not want to be eternally restricted from her kitchen (as retirement from a job would ensue). Who else will make gajar ka halwa exactly the way her son likes it when he comes visiting?
No, she wants to be given a choice. A choice that allows guilt-free decisions.
We can thus define retirement from the kitchen as – a voluntary retirement option from culinary duties which can be lapsed and resumed whenever the concerned person wishes to do so without being driven by feelings of guilt.
Why We Need It
Let’s consider your everyday middle-class nuclear family with no household help as we pose this question. Also, keep in mind that, if the mother is of the retirement age, her children are all settled down or nearly there and probably live away from home.
So what’s the need for retirement from the kitchen?
Without it, our mothers will be forced to toil in the kitchens until the point that they become too old and are physically incapable of continuing. That is the only time they get to stop – when it’s impossible to go on.
What happens to all the dreams she had about life after professional retirement? She probably had a 9 to 5 job all her life so is the retired life just an opportunity to become re-‘tired’ again? Even if she had always been a homemaker, does that seal her fate till the very end?
I have none. Zero. Nada.
I am completely clueless on how we can bring this into effect! The idea is utopian and so the answer is unavailable. Hiring household help or joint family setups may work for some but are not practical solutions in the larger spectrum.
Instead, a first step would be to stop marking territories inside the house. The thought of ‘retirement’ within the house wouldn’t even arise if the burden wasn’t so one-sided.
According to Riane Eisler’s concept of ‘true partnership’, a harmonious life with a balance of work can be achieved when all the tendencies that we define as male and female tendencies are balanced out in all men and women.
Necessity always brings solutions. Maybe the reason why we don’t have a solid solution yet for overwork in the household is because it was never recognized as a problem.
So talk about it. Talk about what happens when you categorise behavioural tendencies. Talk about how overworking doesn’t only happen in offices. Talk about sharing the load.
Talk. Talk. Talk. Till the whole world hears.
Image Credits – Google Images