In a patriarchal society like ours, it is quite predictable how we raise our daughters to be adjustable and selfless. We raise them to ensure that they find their happiness in prioritizing their family needs over their own.
Hence many married women, throughout their lives, focus on everybody else’s needs except their own.
It is quite amazing how they are the first ones to get up and the last ones to sleep. These women have not taken a single day off from their millions of household chores. And, what may leave you shocked is the fact how they find a sense of pride in sacrificing themselves for others.
Growing up in a society like ours, many of us have observed this thought process first-hand. We have seen our mothers happily sacrificing themselves for their kids and husbands. But, what broke me was when my mother and sister expected me to do the same.
Before you read any further, here is some background to the conversation ahead:
As I am 28, my parents believe that it is high time for me to get married. Though I am open to the process of meeting people, I am not at all open to be pushed into marriage for the sake of my age.
Am hoping to find a suitable life partner, who understands me and my career aspirations and treats me like an equal partner.
But recently when a friend of my cousin, who is settled in Singapore, sent me a marriage proposal, my parents went berserk. My parents are very excited because he is from an influential family but I am not.
Because of his conservative family, he wants me to stop working after marriage.
So, my mother and sister took it upon themselves to convince me because as per them marriage is more important than a career, and women should make compromises happily.
“He belongs to a good family. You should marry him. And, his salary package is so good. You don’t need to work. And, you will have a better life in Singapore.”, says my mother as we are having a conversation on why I should or shouldn’t get married to this NRI boy.
“Mummy, I know he is a good man. But, I don’t want to give up my career and life for him. I love my job and I am due for a promotion. I didn’t spend 22 years of my life studying and working hard just to get married. I need to build a life of my own.”
I strongly made my point. But within a second, my sister jumped into the conversation to let me know how I don’t know anything about marriage and life.
“Ankita, what are you saying? After marriage, we have to make compromises for family. If you are going to get married, then you have to change your attitude. You can’t be happy if you keep doing things for yourself.
As a woman, we need to make compromises. See, even mom left her job for papa and look at me, how I gave up my onsite opportunity for your jiju! Compromises are part of a married life. And, doing things for others make you happy! That’s how you could be a good daughter, wife and mother.”
By this time, I was broken and sad. I just wanted to scream at them. But I patiently took a deep breath and said:
“Mummy, since my childhood, I have seen you getting up at 5 am every day. For almost last 30 years, you have started your day with cooking and ended it with the same. You sacrificed your whole life for us, for Papa. And, even now, you hardly take a break from the same monotonous life.
Don’t you feel like doing certain things just for yourself? Aren’t you tired of compromising and sacrificing for others?”
Her eyes told me that I was right. Realizing that I understood, she opened up:
“I do. There are some days when I feel that I have never lived a single day for myself. I feel disappointed with myself that how in the last 30 years of marriage, I made endless compromises for the happiness of others.
But Shaadi Ke Baad Adjust Karna Hi Padta Hai. Adjust Ho Hi Jaata Hai… See even didi has done adjustments…every girl does it. You will do it too!”
“No, I won’t.” I said that and left the room.
It is heartbreaking how generations of women are preaching the rhetoric subject of selflessness to their daughters. Even in the 21st century, women’s self-love and self-care are seen as a sign of being selfish. We are shamed and made to feel a sense of guilt just because we want to live our dreams.
To fellow women,
Please stop taking pride in making Qurbanis. Since time immemorial, women have been told to sacrifice for in-laws, parents, husbands, and kids. Her happiness was never anyone’s priority; Sadly, not even hers! Compromises and adjustments are part of any relationship but it is unfair if the burden of those expectations falls on only one shoulder.
In order to make others happy, don’t forget to make yourself happy! Don’t forget to live for yourself! Don’t let society tell you to give up on your aspirations! Because you have as much right to live your life as much as any other person.
While you may have been raised to live your life for others, can you break the chain and let your daughters learn how to make themselves happy before they make others happy!