Tuesday, August 9, 2022

The criterion of being a full-time housewife, by Sadiya Abubakar Isa

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Who is and who isn’t a housewife was recently a bone of contention. Traditionally, a housewife is understood as a woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework, while her husband goes out to work.

For the sake of clarity, in this essay, the inference of a housewife should be a married woman with or without children whether she stays at home fully or partly. Contrary to the conventional understanding, I contend that even women that work can be regarded as housewives.

I am a housewife because I help with my kids’ homework after school, regular tilawa (Quran recitation), extracurricular activities as well as outsourcing for the most suitable books for their bedtime stories. Not just that, I watch their cartoons most times to keep the content strictly edutainment.

I am a housewife because I am the nurse, the electrician, the cook, the nanny, the driver, the mechanic, the barber, the tailor, the teacher, the police, and the judge. I’m the friend, the sister and the mother of my kids. Also, I am my husband’s lover and all time best friend, sometimes his sister, mother or even his third eye.

I am a housewife because I am the first to wake up and the last to go to bed almost daily. I make sure the kids are eating and living healthily. I am ‘uxorious’ to Oga’s maximum satisfaction in food, room and mood to the best of my ability.

I am a housewife because I discharge my wifely duties in a house, not on the street or in an office for example. There are men who have to book meetings with their wives or have to follow her to places to get their uxorial rights, yes, they exist. On a serious note, I spend more time with my family than with colleagues at work. I work hard to make a happy and conducive home for my husband and children, I work even harder to earn a living for the betterment of my family.

I have absolutely no idea that I have been a part time housewife until I recently read opinions about “housewife-hood”. I understand that working class women aren’t considered full-fledged housewives, but I like to understand what that means. Is it a set back? Or does it make me less of a faithful Muslim wife? Of course not!

I love to make money because of stability. I don’t work hard to wear the most expensive lace or to join any trend. No! I work my butts off because I like to have my own money, it gives me joy to know I have my money. I want to help my husband take care of us. So we could save and achieve a lot of our dreams in the future. So I could go for grocery shopping, cook his best food, get some fuel or refill my toiletries without asking him to send me money. I work because I love my husband, my aged parents and kids, and I’ll like to support the people in-need! How do we support one another as a community if we all have to rely on a single source?

Most of the victims of domestic abuse, mistreatment and injustice are helpless women. Women who have fully relied on their man for everything. They are so vulnerable that any misdeed by the husband easily gets them broken. Not that financially independent women don’t get abused or broken, but the intensity of the abuse could be less, the tolerance level rarely goes below average and victim-hood is amicably managed. So most financially buoyant women would respond differently to such misconduct.

You see, depending on the husband, livelihood is not at all a problem. By religious and cultural standards, it’s absolutely the woman’s right to do so. But considering ‘the way of the world’ today, most men aren’t competent enough to shoulder such divine responsibilities. Whether due to financial incapacity or moral bankruptcy, some men are just not reliable. Whatever the case maybe, a woman should always have personal savings, just in case of emergencies. E get why! Earning, now doesn’t require going out, there are several alternatives of working from home.

I am fortunate to have had a little experience in marriage counseling service, in a sort of informal community on WhatsApp. Based on my analogy, women who suffer the downsides of marriage the most are those from low income backgrounds, zero income housewives or illiterates of both Western/religious knowledge. Those who come from well-to-do families or are earning little or are literates (especially those who know their religious rights) suffer less, relatively.

With due respect and admiration for full housewives, I would never advise any woman to be a full-time housewife unless she meets any of the following requirements. By full-time housewife, here, I mean a wife whose principal occupation is raising her kids and is fully functional in running the affairs of her matrimonial home and never pays any heed to sourcing finances. Thus, a full-time housewife is simply a non-income earning and dutiful wife, who might detest the entire idea of a woman earning for living, whether or not she has the qualifications to work. Of course there are always exceptions.

So who, really, should be a full-time housewife?

  1. If you have already made it in this life that you need no financial support from anyone to cater for yourself/kids even after the demise of your husband, you can hate working, it’s valid.
  2. If you are declared barren, your husband is doing well and your parents are comfortable. Then there’s no need to stress much on your personal earning, except that you must save for a rainy day.
  3. If your father/family is super rich. They can shoulder your responsibilities in the absence of your husband, and you are certain that will continue forever.
  4. If you already have a source of income without even trying to make one. Thus, you already have a company or assets in your name or a stable allowance that you don’t even know what to do with it.
  5. If your husband is wealthy, as in super rich and he asks you not to work. As long as he is covering all the necessities at home and crediting you promptly, and has aptly covered all your needs, past, present and future. My dear there’s no need to go and suffer outside.
  6. If you are elderly or old enough to be cared for by your children/wards. Or you are allergic to people, or have any health issues that warrants you to stay away from people, please stay at home.

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