India – 1

When we go down to India, especially for my brother’s wedding, we have an unspoken understanding that the Viking will handle the kids while I shop, organize and socialize. In case you think I mean the pleasant “meeting-long-lost-friend” kind of socialising – no.

I refer to wedding socialising which involves greeting and spending a certain amount of time with all the invited guests. A little more than a cursory hi and hello. It is not an unpleasant task by any means since most of the invitees are dear family and friends and this is a wonderful chance to catch up with everyone. But demanding nonetheless – not to mention draining, in the humid heat of Kerala, when you just want to dunk yourself in a tub of cooling water and curl up like a foetus.

During the parties and ceremonies, the Viking dutifully handled the boys, made sure they were fed, nappies changed on time and he let me be.

It took about two minutes before the comments started to rush in. What a wonderful father the Viking was. How well he was looking after the kids. HOW MUCH he did. Cousins playfully teased that I needed to keep my husband away from their wives because they would not hear the end of complaints otherwise. Our new in-laws gushed over this wonderful firang who was such a nurturing father.

It would not fricking stop.

After the first couple of times, I had to fight to keep my irritation from getting the upper hand. Choice retorts like

So? He should be more than just a sperm donor!

and

Jeez! Give him his bloody gold medal already! Why is this such a big deal?

and

Oh, screw you. I am alone with these kids for weeks at a time with absolutely no help at all, and just in these couple of days he is milk of frikkin’ human kindness?

did spring to mind, but were not articulated. And just as well really because it gave me the pause I needed to see that it was not about him, my irritation was about me. Or more correctly, I was bristling at being judged because I am so familiar with the drill – the tilt of the head, the intonation – where the other side of the shiny coin of “What a great dad!” is “Why are you shabby at it?”.

Or that could have been me being as sensitive and prickly as a cactus, just wanting to enjoy a holiday without being in the headlights waiting to get hit.

The instant gratification of a mean comeback would have been incredibly satisfying. The downside of that though would be hurting the one person I did not want to hurt – my husband – who was basically being a decent human being. Did I really want to be like that loud asshole at parties who would exclaim loudly about “Women these days needing to know their place?” or “Its her job anyway. What do I care?” If I had ever overheard him making that kind of comment about me, dotted lines would be signed while the dinner was still hot.

It is completely and utterly inappropriate for a man in this day and age to say something so blatantly sexist. Why should it be okay for a woman to be as disrespectful? Does this new millenium’s feminism mean that WE ARE THE NEW BOORS IN PRETTY HEELS? Wow.

So here is my retort.

Gosh! You are right. He is a terrific father and husband and ever-supportive and loving. We are extremely fortunate that he takes such good care of us and y’know what? I could not have swapped spit with a better guy. I know that this is killing you and you really want me to feel inadequate, but I have really never felt as blessed. See? Here is your proof that good people happen to the err… shaky ones too.

It was at this point that I ran out of grace and straight into a glass of martini.

Edited to add: The Viking completed another trip around the sun yesterday and matures like the smelliest, yummiest cheese and deepest, most excellent wine. Happy happies to a good ‘un!

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18 Comments

Filed under Self, The Viking

18 responses to “India – 1

  1. OH MY GOD!!! This annoyed so much. He changed a diaper or oh my god washed their bums..and it was like he was god. And it was because his wife was not from the desh and thus allowed..

    I ignored it because you know what how does it matter. or sometimes I used to say..bache paidaye kiya hai aise hi thoda bade hojate hai…

  2. Happy birthday to the Viking!

    Yep, I can’t stand the praise either. Mainly because I want it for myself!! I do SO MUCH!!!

    I wish, instead of gushing over the occasional man who does do his share, they would turn around and fix their crummy hubbies!

    • Mom Gone Mad

      haha! More honesty – I like!

      Well, quite honestly, I was not doing jack shite. I didn’t want to be either. So there was no question of taking credit for bumwiping anyway:-)

      What is arrgh-worthy is how that is still the measure of a good mother.

  3. Totally agree with starry’s comment above. Don’t expect MY relationship to be unsatisfying, just because yours is.

    Happy birthday to the Viking. 🙂

  4. dipali

    It’s a strangely backhanded way of appreciating you for being clever enough to obtain a spouse who is actually useful around his kids:) But I can imagine how annoying it can be. I’m glad you gave such a warm and positive response instead of a snappy retort.
    All good wishes and blessings to the Viking, and may he have many many happy decades of orbiting the sun.

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Thanks, Dips. As for the retort, there is no way I will make him look bad to make them feel better. Simple, innit?:-)

  5. Orange Jammies

    Happy happies to the man! May his tribe explode and provide Indian womanhood with some respite. 😉 S, wish you’d post this on Ultra Violet. Now there’s a feminist post I’d love a wider audience to read.

  6. oh! i get it all the time. imagine my plight here in des where the child cried out “mumma” as soon as he/she wakes up or gets hurt, my son bawls “papa”.

    so not many people are impressed with my maternal skills! 😉

    and i hate it when people say “oh he cleans his butt! how did you train him so well?” making my hubby feel like a pooch! gah!

    and ofcos when they say “mine doesn’t ever do it / never did it” i wonder if its envy or they are actually proud that our hubby is all “man”

    but i do feel proud and happy to have nagged one of the good un’s.

    belated Happy Happy to the Viking!

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Abha, thanks for the wishes! And I think you mentioned the one thing that irritates me senseless too.. like he is mindless pooch who was “brainwashed” or “trained”. Yuck!

      In our part of the des, it is a badge of honour to be the man’s man who never lifts a finger. While the guy who pulls his weight gets the “you poor serf” looks:-/

      • Sue

        I have to say that Abha’s husband totally reminded me of Vicky the one time I met him. Not because of the bum-washing (which I didn’t see) but because of how he played with all the kids in the room (which I did see). It was damn cute.

  7. Sue

    Happy birthday-that-was to the Viking.

    Been there, oh, I’ve SO been there with the wonderful father comments. And in my case they came along with, “Oh, he handles the baby so much better than you” and “The baby cries less with him, na?” and “You lucky mother, you don’t have to do anything at all when you have a husband like that” etc etc.

    It’ll soon be four years. Now I’ve learnt to smile and accept compliments on his behalf and laughingly tell people how lucky I am, don’t they wish they were me.

    Whatever.

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