Is Taking Care of a Child only a Mother’s job?

Europe is my favourite destination. I love the old world charm that exudes through every corner of Europe. Therefore when this year I got an opportunity to go on a solo trip of Europe it was what we say in Hindi “sone pe suhaga”. I love to travel with my family and friends however travelling solo is something I enjoy the most. This was my third solo trip abroad and first solo trip to Europe and I was excited beyond words.
I sat comfortably in my seat and looked out of the small window of the aircraft to bid goodbye to Mumbai, my favourite city in the world, for 10 days, my heart fluttered with both excitement and uncertainty. This trip had been so jinxed that I was finding it difficult to believe that my flight was actually taking off.
An elderly Jain lady was sitting next to me. She was finding it difficult to switch on the TV and watch a movie. She wanted to watch the same movie that I was watching. I helped her and she lapped up this opportunity to engage in small talks with me. A plethora of questions followed. The first and foremost question was ‘Are you married? Do you have kids?’ When both the answers came affirmative there was a visible sign of shock on her face. The next question was the obvious ‘who is taking care of your kid?’ When I nonchalantly replied ‘my husband’ her prompt reply was ‘bahut accha pati mila aapko’.
Oh!!Come on! !!My husband travels ten times more than I do but am sure nobody ever asked him these questions. Did anyone ever tell him that he has a very good wife who took care of the child while he was away? I am sure nobody did because that is taken for granted. I won’t blame the Gujrati woman alone. I met an American lady later during the trip. It was cold outside and I was sitting inside a Starbucks cafe engaged in a video call with my son. The lady was sitting in the next table. As soon as I hung up the call she said ‘you speak very good English. You are from which country?’ I replied I was an Indian and most Indians speak good English. Her next question was ‘Are you travelling alone?’ I replied ‘Yes’
‘Was that your child you were talking to?’
‘Who is taking care of your child while you are away?’
‘His father’
‘Are you divorced?’
‘Certainly not’
‘Wow! You have a great husband who takes care of the child while you are travelling. You are a brave woman to travel alone leaving your child alone. I could never go to the supermarket also, leaving them behind when they were small.’
And! I thought the Gujrati Aunty was the one who thought like that, the American Aunty was no different. When I came home my best friend called up and said ‘you are so lucky, you have the best husband in the world, he took so good care of your child when you were away, he even made cheese paratha for school lunch box.’ Grrrr!!!
Why is this seen as a great act, isn’t it part of parenting. Why do we see it as a favour when the man does all this? Why do we consider that taking care of the child is a woman’s job? Why do we always try to make the woman feel guilty when she leaves the child and goes? As if leaving the child with the father is some kind of crime. Why is it taken for granted that it is the woman who would sacrifice everything to take care of the child while the man would have the liberty to live his life the way he wanted to. Why is so much questions raised when a woman goes and never when the man goes. When  would we change this mindset?

My husband never complained and was quite happy, so was my son. In fact when I returned my son asked ‘Mamma, when will go again? We had so much fun.’ However the people around had too many questions, observations, comments blah! Blah! blah!

Can you tell me, why we consider taking care of the child as a woman’s job alone? 

This post is part of the #FeministMondays series (previously called #IAmAFeminist series) hosted by Nabanita. Inspired by a TEDx talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – We Should All Be Feminists. 


Linking this post to #MondayMusings hosted by dear Corinne.


This post was the featured post on BlogAdda homepage.


30 thoughts on “Is Taking Care of a Child only a Mother’s job?

  1. Modern Gypsy says:

    I think it’s ingrained gender roles. Women tend to think it’s their “duty” or “job” to look after a child; like being there for them 24×7 gives them some kind of badge of honor. And also an ingrained sense that men are breadwinners and women are homemakers. Hopefully the time will come in the near future where this won’t be most people’s ingrained response!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Parul Thakur says:

    This is how we are conditioned. Recently, I was a part of meeting where we were talking about how to best provide the support to women at work. One manager pointed out that why do we talk of working mothers where there is nothing called working fathers? So the deal is that to demand an equal treatment we need to be unbiased. Most women want preferences and then talk about the why the bias.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      Absolutely there are ‘working mothers’ but no ‘working fathers’ and when a woman is a stay at home mom she is easily labeled as a ‘non working mother ‘ as if house work doesn’t involve any work. We need to change our mindset first to bring change. Thanks for the nice comment Parul.


  3. BellyBytes says:

    That’s quite true . Everyone seems to think that taking car of a child is the woman’s job and lets face it , it is one job we are better at doing . Mind you my own daughters subscribe to modern theory when they go to work leaving the kids with dad but everyone is relieved when mum comes home including mum herself !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. CookieCrumbsInc. (@meepeevee) says:

    It is all just societal conditioning; mothers are “supposed” to be the primary caregivers or the child will be “messed up” for life *eyeroll* This attitude makes me want to ask whether the father has any responsibilities toward his child at all or they think he should keep the home financed and he’ll have done his duty? It is 2017 FFS!! -_-
    Another attitude is when the fathers actually lift a finger and then claim credit for it. Hello bhaisaab, you’re only doing your duty, not saving the world *double eyeroll*

    Kudos to both of you for actually being equal parents, which is what how it is supposed to be anyway.

    P.S: Erm, sorry to have gone off on a rant but the topic sort of set me off.
    P.P.S: Solo trip to Europe FTW! You be amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Shilpa Gupte says:

    That is the decades of conditioning speaking, Balaka. Women have been care takers, homemakers, and therefore when they move out of the house/travel alone and the husbands take over from them, it is looked at in awe and, often derision. It is going to take many more years for this thought to change that men have an equal responsibility towards their homes and their children in the absence of their wives and in that they aren’t doing something unheard of, or something great!
    Hugs to you, my dear!
    I am glad you enjoyed a solo trip…that’s so motivating and inspiring for women like me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      Shilpa I think men have responsibilities not only in the absence of the wife but also in her presence. Home and kids are joint responsibility and both should enjoy it equally.
      Thanks for reading and I honestly loved your wonderful comment.


  6. Dashy says:

    Hear hear! The society only questions that way because it is uncommon to find such an understanding family, and they all wish it was the same with them, only that they don’t try to implement this doctrine of equal responsibility of both parents for themselves. Atleast the trend is changing now, though gradual.

    However it is the solo trip part of the post that interests me, I’d love to hear more about it! I’m 19 and am not permitted to even travel to the next district on my own so far. I’d love to go on solo trips abroad some day ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      Solo trips are the best thing that can happen to a person. However just like you I was also not allowed to go anywhere when I was 19. I started traveling solo after crossing 25. My first solo travel abroad was at the age of 29. I hope you also take a solo trip very soon. All the best and thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. mackenzieglanville says:

    This is so true, even my parents tell me how ‘lucky’ I am because my husband does things for our children and that is the point they are “our” children. It is great that dads can bond, it is great for the mum, the dad and the child. I say travel and enjoy! Thank you so much for sharing with #mg

    Liked by 1 person

  8. the bespectacled mother says:

    For the starter, you and your photos from the Europe trip gave me something to dream about and to believe in its possibility. Rest, what to say about those questions? I come from a set-up where the husband could not even feel it easy to look after the son for a few hours during which I intended to go visit the salon. Yes, it is the mother’s job, no actually shit.
    To answer your detractors, please go on one more solo trip and post a million photographs on social media and become the hope to many women and mothers like me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      Your comment made my day, Anamika. However let me tell you the inside son is 9 years old and this was the first time that he stayed apart from me. He had not lived without me for more than 8 hours at a stretch for these many years. This time I was quite stubborn and thankfully the husband kind of obliged..truth be told he was not really very excited about my trip but didn’t discourage either. I was away for 10 days and in those 10 days the father managed to send the son school only on 3 days and as a result son was thrown out of school annual day (sigh). Most of the days the school homework was not done and they spent most of the time eating junk. I wonder if I had done the same when daddy dear went on his tours I would have been beheaded for negligence. If I make cheese parantha nobody notices but when he made it became talk of the town 🙂 . The day I came back home my home resembled like a war zone. But all said and done I am thankful that I could make it. And most importantly they were happy and enjoyed in their own way. When I came back they were relieved and excited. I am proud of him that he didn’t complain much and was actually quite happy for me.
      All of us need a break. keep dreaming one day we can have a blogger’s trip together.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Akshata Ram says:

    Ah tell me about this , in my case it’s my mom who is looking after my daughter while I have been traveling for more than 2 months now, I still get thr judgement about my parenting skills or thr lack of it from several people. Don’t you miss your daughter? You are very brave, your mother is so nice you are lucky, yes I consider myself lucky and I do miss my child. But this trip was important for me professionally and knowing my child is safe and happy I decided to go. Wonder if a man gets asked this?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder says:

    Happens every time. I was even told by an elderly person that having frequent trips leaving my child “alone” (in custody of his father) would result in a lack of love and bond between the mother and son. I wrote about it on my blog, too. This tendency is widespread, instilled in the thought process of most of the people irrespective of gender, class, creed and country. It’s difficult, very very difficult to change the mindset…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Namratha Varadharajan says:

    I guess it’s because the world has been running like that for a few or many generations. That it seems obvious to all that the mother is the primary parent and if the husband pitches in she is ‘lucky’

    I am glad more women are going out and doing their thing like you are. May you go on many more trips.

    Liked by 1 person

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