Wednesday, January 31, 2007
ARE YOU A SUPERWOMAN? To most married women, the image of being a superwoman or supermom is often a target. Or is it?
I guess it would be safe to say that a superwoman is one who is a great juggler of various responsibilities, be it the career or the home. In the modern world, it is normal for women to work. To the so-called braver ones, they settle down and venture the world of spouse and offsprings. The ideal number of offsprings? I'm not very sure on the agreed figure but the number is getting fewer by the day. I would probably say that the average modern Malaysian (Malay, Chinese or Indian) normally go for just 2: a boy and a girl. For those who probably had a difficult pregnancy or delivery, ONE would be enough!!! Nonetheless, there are those who love being in a crowd, and living in super-chaos. Having 6-8 children is still not rare. Two of my sisters have 9 each!
Still, working a full-time job is tiring in itself, whatmore with responsibilities at home, oh, you really have to be a superwoman! Let's take a day for one who does not have a maid. A true superwoman. First, you get up in the morning (after several wakes in the night - small baby, big baby) and prepare breakfast. This depends on the household. For some, it's a good start of the day: nutritious food and drink. For others, let's not bother because all will only be needing the loo as an after effect, and there's no time for that! Save the trouble and we'll have some teh tarik and roti canai at the office or school. Don't forget, there's the clothes for this morning to prepare as well: does everyone has their socks, shirt, underwear, trousers, etc..etc.... And, don't forget, this tudung doesn't go with this outfit!!!
Aaaahhh, that's only breakfast time. Wait till you get home later. Struggling with one child or more is enough to set your blood boiling. "Maaaaaa, I don't want this!" or "Mama, where's my ruler?". Duhhhh???? What is the mommy expected to do? To change one object to another? To find where the ruler disappeared to (though mommy doesn't even know how it looks like or when it was last used). Oh, in between settling the kids, there's the food to think of. What to cook today? Have I defrosted the chicken?
Ooooh, you haven't been to the cleaning episode. There are clothes, more clothes, and more clothes everywhere. The day mamasarah came over for tea, I found out before bedtime that one of my twins had shoved his uniform under the bed instead of hanging them on a hanger! Then there are also the rooms in the house to consider. Just the routine beds to do (yup, the older ones can do it themselves, but oh, the quality!), the sorting of toys, the arranging of books, the tidying up of crazy collections, the list goes on....
For me, I don't have a maid. I don't want a maid because I have had 9 maids for the past 10 years. Now, in a place where maids are rare, and the kids can help around the house (oh, yeah, really!), we try to manage this topsy-turvy house on our own. I am NO superwoman because I work no wonders and am far from perfect. I scream at my children when they demand me to. They run up the stairs like elephants and shriek at one another for no apparent reason. They fight and bully each other simply to get on my nerves. We are far from perfect.
It is probably very safe to say that the extend one juggles her responsibilities all depend on how high the standards are set. For most working women, help is surely needed. That's when the help of a maid, mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin, baby-sitter, neighbour, bus drivers, friends and the lot come in VERY helpful. For some others, to ensure that quality time is spent with the family, food is rarely cooked at home. There are lots of ready-made food priced reasonably, so why bother? Some even delegate their duties well enough that shirts and uniforms are sent to be ironed by professionals. Hey, 30 sen a piece is very cheap!!! Let's see, converted to the UK sterling, that would only be about 4 1/2 pennies. Obviously, it's easier to put the kids on the bus to school, than wait to chauffeur them around.
On the other hand, some more ambitious ones who have higher standards, would probably aim to do all these single-handedly. The cooking, the ironing, the minding. The preparing of lunch packs and healthy food. The attempts to rush out during lunch break to ferry a child to school. Is it worth it?
To me, I do whatever I can manage. Yes, it would be nice to prepare home-cooked meals for the family as they are generally cheaper and healthier. However, there are days and times that ready-made meals will come in very handy. I prepare packed lunches for the kids (and dad), trying to vary them so that it's interesting. Yet, there would be days I'd stuff a packet of crisps, a cereal bar and an apple, without attempting on a change of fillings for their sarnies. I iron the clothes infront of the TV when the laundry's done, but always buy easy-iron /iron-free ones whenever I can. I even hang them on hangers so that it needs minimal ironing.
The issue of juggling, or multi-tasking is perhaps an art one would tolerate when one is in the position. I have met so many people who would surrender before trying, "Oh, no! I can never picture myself with children!". Or: "I KNOW I can never have more than 1. Look, I can't even manage this one!".
Everything depends on the mindset of the person. Of course, different people have different personalities and interests. Yet, it is the individual who decides whether something can be done or not.
Please don't get me wrong. I am no guru, nor am I highly experienced. Perhaps I have always had this domestic feeling in me. My late mother who I only met for 4 years, was one who baked, cooked and sewed for the family. Yet, throughout my early days, I was brought up with a maid to bake and cook in the house. So, the desire to do something domesticated is even stronger in me. When I was a young girl, my step sis and I used to make 'batu seremban'. And, we meddled with my step mom's sewing machine till it went kaput. As a result, we were prohibited from using it. At the boarding school I went, there wasn't any home economics, so I missed out there too. many years later, I picked up sewing from my best friend, and only went to learn proper tailoring about 4 years ago. Even that, I didn't complete because of work commitments.
The point I'm trying to make in this very long-winded entry is, I know the sky is the limit but I only aim as high as I can reach. In other words, practicality is very important. Mind you, in the kitchen, I never fix anything too complicated. When I choose recipes, they are usually simple and not too fussy. If they are fussy, I skip them. Try a different recipe. Forget making an impression, because you don't want to go to all ends if it'll cost you a million! So, if you set your target at a level just right for you, you'd be happy and satisfied. At least for now, I am but don't look under the bed!