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Today's working woman juggles varied roles - and ultimately, she's stressed out

Today's working woman' has many roles to play. At the work place, she is a responsible employee, and at home, an affectionate wife and dedicated mother. In other words, she is a juggler par excellence. Women take up a career for many reasons, monetary being one. Of course, some are primarily career-oriented. But, after the arrival of a child, she finds it difficult to cope with the demands, tilting the balance.

A dilemma

She is placed in a dilemma as she cannot sacrifice one for the other. While on the one hand, much stress is laid on childcare, the working woman is unable to do justice to this fully because of her commitment to her job. In the process, she fails, either on one front or at times both. Flexible working hours may be a solution. After all, in the present social context, the joint family is a fast vanishing concept. With none to lend a helping hand in the nuclear family set up, her presence is needed at home, all the more when the child is young. Doctors today say that a mother's proximity to her child is important for its normal physical and mental growth, particularly in the formative years. Child crime, drug abuse and lawlessness in young are on the rise. This fall-out is because parents, especially the mother, cannot give the much needed time and attention to the child. `Quality time' alone is not enough. An observant mother can spot even a subtle change in her child much before others and take timely action. Any amount of help from others can only supplement but not substitute maternal care. By nature, woman is gifted with more grace, tolerance and acumen. These virtues are manifest in motherhood. Woman's emancipation is a high sounding phrase running tangential to this ideology. The two have to meet at a point; the latter should not over-ride the joy of motherhood. But then, how is she going to make both ends meet? A million dollar question.Irony is that after the day's toil, she winds up on a sour note with more of brickbats than bouquets. At work, higher-ups feel she stays away from work too often, citing domestic reasons. At home, the husband grudges he has to shoulder more burden with a wife working, conveniently forgetting it is for the family. Elders feel they are neglected. The woman is disgruntled, and feels robbed of her pleasure and passion with no time of her own. She comes under severe stress and tends to compare with the women at home for whom she is the `neighbour's envy'. At times, unable to do a tightrope walk, she may opt out of a lucrative career and settle down to a cheerful family life. Perhaps herein lies the answer. B. ANUBALA

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