The Bespectacled Mother

Cooking – A life skill or a mother's duty?

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A mother and her son were reading a book together. On one page they came across a picture in which the father was cooking in the kitchen and the mother was having breakfast at the table with her 2 kids. The mother talked about the picture with her son. The son promptly interjected, “but the mother should be cooking and the father should be eating”.

This bothered the mother. She realised that her 4-year-old who is still not aware of the stereotypes of the society has picked up his understanding from her own household. He has always watched his mother taking care of the cooking and his father idling time on the couch either busy on his smartphone or watching television. He has been witness to his mother’s request of helping her with her kitchen work being turned down by the father even if it has just been helping prepare the salad so compulsorily required by the father with every meal.

He has overheard his parents’ conversation about hiring a cook because the mother feels that she gets tired cooking 3 meals 7 days a week and the father suggesting that the food should always be prepared by the woman of the house.

Unknowingly, the mother herself has set up the expectation for her child.

She counsels herself that she will teach her son to cook. She ponders over – Why should cooking not be considered a life skill? Why should it be seen as a female’s domain only? She promises herself to make a difference to the stereotypes set.

At the next opportunity, she discusses the above things with the father. And, what did she expect to hear from him?

She was asked to pick up the contents of the books, she was reading to her son, with utmost care in future so that such dilemmas could be best avoided. The father summoned her not to try to deviate the child from his studies by teaching and involving him in domestic chores. He let out the final blow then. “What will my parents think you are trying to do with their grandson by teaching him to cook?”

The mother could not contain herself any longer. She countered the father, “Those times are gone. I no longer care about people who are keen on judging me about the things I perceive right”.

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22 thoughts on “Cooking – A life skill or a mother's duty?

  1. ajaybpai on said:

    If cooking was a woman oriented domain, there wouldn’t have been any Male Chefs. And we being in 21st century, the belief of only woman cooking has to be trashed.
    Kudos to your strong thoughts and powerful writing.

    Like

    • the bespectacled mother on said:

      Thanks Ajay. Its 21st century and obviously the idea of a woman cooking only needs to be trashed. But many of us come from rigid patriarchal families where not only the patriarch but more so the women enforce deeply in their sons this concept of woman of the house cooking. So doesn’t matter if these sons get highly educated, travel the world and get equally qualified wives but the rule set by their mothers needs strict adherence.

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  2. I remember my own daughter was playing “House” with her boy cousin. They were both under 5 but when my daughter woke up, her cousin told her to make his tea, she told him to do it himself because she was going to work! This despite the fact that we come from a very traditional family where we actually live the stereotype….. So forget stereotyping and getting your son a kitchen set – he’ll cook when he has to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • the bespectacled mother on said:

      Love your daughter. Tell her to keep up with her spirit. My mother did not teach me cooking for a long long time because she revolted against the stereotype. And I am going to do the same, revolting against the stereotype by teaching my son how to cook.

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  3. Good one!
    I love taking care of my daughter and cooking for her. What I don’t like is that everyone thinks its my duty and when husband does something for her he is HELPING me. Is it not his duty too?

    Like

    • the bespectacled mother on said:

      You have made a very valid point here, Vidya. I hope if it goes the way like the mother in this story thinks, times would be much better in future.

      Like

  4. I love this post. There are times I discuss this bit with my husband only to end up in a argument. If I have my way around, 2 decades from now, Brat H shall be trained to become a chef!

    Liked by 1 person

    • the bespectacled mother on said:

      Kudos!! I am so happy to find out there is another mother who is willing to revolt against the stereotype. Husbands would never agree to this thing because it will land them in an altogether different proposition.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hehahah must say Dhruv is becoming observant with you reading him daily. A great habit. And no comments on breaking stereotypes because it causes a stir in my peaceful happy go lucky life. Guess, i will let myself lose some battles and win over my mind !

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    • the bespectacled mother on said:

      You cannot make amendments to a non-modifiable system program. Any attempt would lead to the system crashing down altogether. So what you are doing is an highly intelligent act.

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  6. vidsps on said:

    Children imbibe cues from their surroundings, if we hope to raise kids without stereotyped notions, we must practice and not just preach. An insightful post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well written:) Dhruv is absolutely lucky to have you as his mom 🙂 If moms of sons start breaking the unwritten rules like these,very soon gender discrimination shall be trashed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • the bespectacled mother on said:

      Thank you Kalyani ☺ A society devoid of gender discrimination will be so good to be a part of. It is a dream worth having. Welcome to my blog and thanks again for sharing your kind thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

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  10. This is a good piece about how children absorb gender roles at a very early age. I love to cook and I would like to see cooking be something that everyone can enjoy, without the expectation that women will do all of the cooking.

    Like

  11. Esha M Dutta on said:

    No matter which century we are in, there will always be people who will say—”Log kya kahenge?” to everything we wish to change about our regressive customs and traditions. But, we must inculcate this in our sons and daughters alike, to learn life skills and learn to share the chores and housework equally. There is no better stage in life than childhood to teach this to a kid and ALL moms need to do it, irrespective of whether they work or not. Kids should never be raised with a feeling of entitlement —is what I always feel. And, even as i say this, I know a lot of households where the same story (as you described in the post) runs, from one generation to the other. I guess, moms need to fight harder.

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  12. Cooking is a life skill.Loved your story and the message in it. We must not discriminate while teaching our children responsibilities. When my kids were younger, they helped me in setting the table, making salads and other little things. My son learnt faster and is a better cook than his elder sister, which is good for him as he moved away from home after his graduation and now lives alone in another city and manages to feed himself and look after his house 🙂

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  13. Obsessivemom on said:

    It most definitely is a life skill. As a mom who wages constant war against stereotypes the end of that story made me very happy. I try to inculcate the same basic skill set in both my children but they are slowly becoming aware of the ‘normal’ roles of men and women in the society and it is becoming that much harder. With the Husband being away they have no role model to drive home the fact practically.

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  14. The fact that in my kitchen, one will find the man cooking and the woman enjoying the meal, makes me feel proud, and also happy that the man has no such views on women and household chores, esp cooking. My heart goes out to the scores of women whose men think otherwise. I wonder when they will wake up to the fact that the world has progressed and their regressive ideologies are doing more harm than good to the peace of their homes!
    Sons should be taught to not just cook, but also help in other chores around the house for the simple reason that they are also a part of the family unit and helping each other out has nothing to do with gender…oh god! WAKE UP PEOPLE!

    Like

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