Monday, September 26, 2011
A Life Less Extraordinary
At the back of every educated woman's head lurks the suspicion that she's destined for greatness. That's why we went to college after all, when we could just as easily have been reproducing a year into our first period. That's why we learnt how to use the computer before we cooked our first meal. That's why we grew up hearing words like 'career', 'success' and 'balance' - and questions like, "What do you want to do?" We were supposed to make something of ourselves. We were supposed to be better than women who never imagined they could do anything other than rear children. A lot of money was invested in developing our brains so that we could... well, use them.
It's 3.37 am and I am writing this with the heady fumes of Dettol slowly permeating every valuable grey cell that inhabits this skull. That's because the better part of the last hour has been spent cleaning up the healthy portions of half-digested sausage that my son threw up in his bed, on the rug, just outside the bathroom door and then in the bathroom itself. Perhaps I'm writing this because I need an excuse to binge on chocolate cake in the wee hours of the morning. Or maybe the Dettol is clouding my judgement. Who knows. All I can say with confidence is that at this moment, my education is completely useless. The only trail I'm capable of blazing right now is the sort you might see if you threw a burning match at a woman reeking of disinfectant running down a corridor with a wiper.
And that is difficult to accept. It is a tough moment when you realise that after all the years of presuming that you'd become something, you have actually turned out quite ordinary. That your life, too, has been reorganised around the concept of birthday parties, quarterly assessments and macaroni with cheese, just like all those unbearably average women you were always so SURE you were never like. UN reports talk about women like you: they say you are worth educating because you're three times more likely to send your children to school. You too are a majority statistic - and in all likelihood you will stay one.
But is that so bad? What's so unbearable about being the lynchpin of bloody society, after all? Yes, there's no fame or fortune in it. Yes, much of your day is spent in what could only be described as menial tasks. There are no thanks to be had, no certificates of appreciation, no annual bonuses. But you are part of that silent mass of worker ants that holds things together, are you not? If it weren't for this army, fighting its small battles quietly in the background every single day, where would the world be? If we weren't content with playing this supporting role, the whole cast - hell, the whole dang film - would collapse. So yeah... motherhood. It's the most thankless voluntary work in the world, but this is one community service the world cannot do without.
At least that's what I have to tell myself at moments like this one.