There is no laundry detergent in the house. I have three loads of laundry waiting to be done. I am sniffing noodles we ordered in for dinner on Sunday night, wondering if they will stay good till school snack time on Tuesday.
I am trying to teach the six year old multiplication. Instead of finding solutions to the above problems (ask everyone to go commando for a couple of days/stop smelling the noodles/ask the Math teacher to try harder), I turn to Facebook.
“The obligation for working women is a very precise one: the feeling that one ought to work as if one did not have children, while raising one’s children as if one did not have a job.”
— From Annabel Crabb’s book The Wife Drought.
I am staring at a poster with these words on it. A friend had shared it on social media earlier in the day, with the question ‘True or Not?’
I left a comment that was far milder than what I was feeling, and asked: “What’s a wife drought?”
But I knew the answer. How many times have we heard the statement, or jokingly uttered the statement, or in times of exhaustion whimpered in our hearts and souls, THE STATEMENT: “What I need is a wife!”?
A wife. To change the hand towel in the powder room. To remember birthdays and anniversaries and buy gifts for people. To ensure everyone has clean underwear.
I’m pretty sure that if my husband was the primary caregiver and runner of things in our home, he would not be smelling veg hakka noodles at 9:00 pm on a Monday night. The boys would not be hiding gargoyle feet under their socks either. His ‘To Do’ list of things around the house is always done. Mine has items waiting to be ticked off since 2008.
Things aren’t that much better on the work front. In my office mailbox, there are emails I am wondering how to send deep into the deep web and insist I never received. If you have sent one of those emails, please stop waiting. I am not going to reply. I am too busy wondering what will happen if I run the washing machine using Domex. Which for some reason we have six bottles of. Who is in charge or ordering household cleaning items? Oh.
I Googled Annabel Crabb when I first started writing this column. I was going to vent against her ilk and those who wrote statements like the one above and made people feel upset in the morning. People in Bangalore traffic jams who already have enough things to feel upset about. Her poster made me feel like a failure. And I hadn’t even reached the office yet.
Turns out, Ms. Crabb’s book is all about how ‘Working women are in an advanced, sustained, and chronically under-reported state of wife drought, and there is no sign of rain.’ The book asks ‘Why is the work-and-family debate always about women? Why don’t men get the same flexibility that women do?’
When someone finds an answer, please let me know. In return, I will tell you what happens when you wash clothes with toilet bleach.
The writer’s philosophy is: if there’s no blood, don’t call me