By PARIJAT CHANDRA
A recent trip to Los Angeles for my aunt's birthday got me thinking. I was meeting a lot of my friends and family living there after several years, most of them after the birth of my twin boys. My aunt made it a point to tell all and sundry that she was very disappointed that I had opted to stay home after I had the boys and had given up a very successful professional career as a CPA. My aunt would continue with the same amount of passion every single time and say that she thought I was wasting my time and talent staying home and leading a life of leisure when she knew I was capable of being out there in the professional world, working with KPMG, Ernst and Young, etc., and doing a lot more!
A lot more, hmm. I started to think about what more I could possibly squeeze into my life. I looked at the year that had just passed and thought about what I had actually done. Well, I was raising two first graders (boys, I might add), chauffeuring them for their various activities and helping out at their school, playing wife to a very busy cardiologist husband, and running the household single-handedly. This must be the staying home part of what my aunt meant, I thought.
Now let me think of what I did in my leisure time. Let's see. I did emcee about a dozen shows that took place in Atlanta last year, helped put together the Ms. India GA pageant, interviewed several celebrities for a local TV station, helped organize events for a Club that I was an active member of, choreographed several dance items, and wrote articles for some of the leading Asian magazines in Atlanta. Yeah, so I also take hip-hop dance and tennis lessons ? no biggie there.
Was that it? Oh, I forgot another insignificant detail; I also run a Property Management business. But from home, I might add. I am certainly not your full-time professional out there in the aggressive, challenging world.
So what am I? And what are several other women who fall into a similar category, then? Those who are not full-time working women with a job or a business but who aspire to be more than your stereotypical stay-at-home women? When I asked my husband this question, he patted my head and said, "You are a Diva." Upon some research I ascertained the fact that he may actually be right; the term coined for women like me really is diva ? Domestic Divas.
Welcome to a new breed of women. I place a Domestic Diva not between a Working Woman and a Stay-at-Home one but as someone tangential to both. These women in no way undermine the working woman or claim to upstage the stay-at-home mom, but are just another set of women with different lifestyle choices. I agree with Bucky Fuller who has said, "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
I look around and see women who according to me fall into the same category. My friend and neighbor Vicky Ramchandani is one such example. She runs a household of four kids and a very successful and extremely busy businessman spouse. Juggling the schedules and activities of one high school, one middle school, one elementary and one Montessori child is no ordinary feat and she's no ordinary woman ? but a Domestic Diva.
To add to her already full plate she also pitches in and helps her husband in his business.
I have known her to juggle her schedule and manage the timings of her kids, to help open their retail store if her husband is unable to, substitute for an absent employee, do the annual inventory taking, attend to customers, work the cash register, do the banking and attend to security alarms any time of day or night from their downtown store. All this with no prior notice. At the drop of a hat she juggles all the schedules and gets the job done. No ordinary feat, this. I have also seen her spend Sundays with her husband, managing their real estate business, whether it is going to oversee construction or survey potential sites.
Another friend Sudha Malhotra also qualifies for the title. An engineer with a Masters in Computer Science who has worked with Ford and EDS, she is now raising 3 boys and running a household with a husband who travels a lot on his job. Besides keeping up with the boys' demanding schedules, she is known to choreograph dances for various parties and events and is also a talented singer who practices her art religiously. She also practices yoga and tennis on a regular basis.
Not satisfied with the institutions teaching Hindu culture here in Atlanta, she undertook the task of starting a study group in her basement for adults who follow the teachings of Swami Chinmayananda. This laid the groundwork for starting a Balvihar for her friends and neighbors' children. This Balvihar has now grown into a Sunday school for over 200 children.
For someone who has been out in the professional world and exchanged it in favor of adding another dimension to my life, I have never once regretted my decision. But I do want to make sure that my kids (and aunt) realize that although it is wonderful staying at home, that's only one of my many options. What I hope to show them is the motivation and drive with which my fellow Domestic Divas and I do everything and that at any point we can re-create ourselves and go back to work in the professional world. Being a Domestic Diva is a phase of life, but we can carry many titles at any given time.
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