It wasn’t this way when I was working full time. Then, I needed everything in place and functional. I pushed myself to be on top of my job, often responding to emails at odd hours at night to ensure I was on top of my work. In spite of this endeavor to not slacken at work, I was constantly trying to make certain that everything in the house was in order. How can something, anything, even the smallest of things not be in place and why are not all gadgets, switches and machinery working? I was obviously overworked in office and was also trying hard to ensure that the home didn’t suffer because I wasn’t physically present. Given the paucity of time, and rush to accomplish all that required my attention, I was obviously stretching myself.
Undoubtedly, this was stressful, if multiplied with the important task of bringing up two kids. I struggled, as most working mothers do. In hindsight, however, I think I got my priorities mixed up. I was so busy providing my kids a physically comfortable environment, I overlooked the fact that what they really needed was more of my time and attention. In my robot-like efficiency, I didn’t quite catch at the time that I was creating an emotional disconnect. But what’s done is done and I’m trying hard to make up.
My responses and reactions to several things changed when I wasn’t going to office every morning and when I no longer needed to squeeze domestic chores and to-do-lists into my schedule along with all the demands of my work. Today, I am calmer and more patient while dealing with day-to-day malfunctions, including things like the fridge not cooling, lights that won’t come on, or the unavailability of specific domestic requirements. I’ve learnt while staying at home that commitments household fixers make are flexible and so I’d better be too. It’s mostly working fine, but it’s taken a bit of adjustment!
Now, I have time and flexibility, and although my domestic life is running smoothly, I’m unsettled in some other aspects of my life. I’ve had time to read, think, pause and to consider what is going on around me. And so, I’ve been reacting to things other than those that consumed my time, mind and interest while working.
There’s a bit, or perhaps quite a bit, of me that’s unwilling to accept extreme right and left-wing views. It riles me to read about excessive reactions, and even worse responses, particularly if they pertain to religion, caste and class. I am very disturbed to read about rape, honor killings and the murder of senior citizens by people they trusted. It bothers me a lot when I know about the immediate and long-term impact of environmental damages. I can’t stand the sound of dripping water, let alone seeing it wasted on even half-drunk glasses. It irks me to see plastic bottles regularly used, discarded and re-fueled with adulterated water and meals ordered online delivered in plastic containers. My concern is exacerbated when I think about the food chain supply and the hazards of what we are imbuing. I feel terrible when I see water collected on streets that cause traffic jams soon after I’ve read about a special train going to deliver water to Tamil Nadu. I am ashamed of overusing water to wash my hair when I think, while doing so, of those who don’t even have enough water to drink.
So, while I believe I might have mellowed in some areas, I am troubled by all of these issues that I now have time to closely follow through several media outlets. In addition to what I have always espoused–honesty, freedom of speech, righteousness, fighting corruption, women’s rights and several other issues that I increasingly feel strongly about, I now feel a great desire to contribute to any of all of these issues in any way I can.
Perhaps it’s an evolutionary process. Now, I may be driven more by things that touch our lives every day. I also strongly believe that the younger generation is well aware and proactive about most of these problems that they actively espouse, support and try to make a difference. I feel a sense of fortification.
Even as I feel strongly about these problems and wish to contribute, I believe I must choose some and know where I can really make an impact. There’s a small black, square placard that I bought several years ago that inscribes in gold:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference!
Now that’s the challenge. While I am clearer about where I can make an impact, I’m still learning to let go of what I cannot change and where I cannot make a difference.
This is as much true at home as it is outside of it.