Pengetahuan-Saya

Ketika menjadi ibu rumah tangga bukan (benar-benar) sebuah pilihan


Banyak perempuan urban berkeluarga yang menganggap bekerja di luar rumah dan/atau di dalam rumah adalah sebuah pilihan. I have a news. Sometimes it is but more often it’s not. It’s usually not a woman who make the choice but often we are made to believe that it’s ours.

Aku belajar tentang hal itu dari kawanku, seorang ibu rumah tangga purna waktu yang tinggal di Bekasi. Ketika mempunyai anak satu, dia belum berhenti bekerja karena saat itu dia dan suami masih tinggal dengan ibunya yang bisa merawat anak. Menyewa pengasuh dan asisten rumah tangga purna waktu adalah kemewahan bagi sebagian keluarga urban seperti dirinya. Berhubung kakaknya juga sudah menikah dan tinggal seatap dengannya, dan suaminya juga sudah mengambil perumahan di Bekasi, maka dia putuskan untuk pindah agar bisa lebih mandiri. Lebih mandiri di sini berarti dia tidak lagi memiliki seseorang untuk membantu mengasuh anak, membersihkan rumah, dan mencuci baju. ‘Lebih mandiri’ dengan tinggal di sudut Bekasi juga berarti perjalanan yang jauh dan melelahkan untuk ditempuh jika masih nekat bekerja di daerah Sudirman. It’s a forced choice an urban family woman must make and scarifice.

Bagi seorang perempuan yang sudah bekerja sebelum lulus kuliah, memiliki penghasilan sendiri adalah kebanggaan dan kesenangan tersendiri. Penghasilan sendiri berarti bisa membantu orang tua, tahap penting untuk mandiri, dan punya kekuasaan untuk mengelola keuangan. You have the power to be in charge of a kind of independence you can handle, because I believe human can’t handle all spectrum of independence. Whatever that means.

Bekasi sangat terkenal dengan perumahan berbagai tipe, dari yang sangat sederhana sampai dengan yang sangat tidak sederhana, dan untuk tipe terakhir bisa berarti rumah yang sangat bagus atau sangat tidak layak. Sahabatku menjadi salah satu perempuan berkeluarga yang menempati petak-petak di sudut Tambun, Bekasi bersama para pekerja lainnya. Suaminya bekerja di sebuah perusahaan Jepang yang memproduksi kendaraan bermotor. It’s an ordinary life-style of working class people that working out their life, believing that they are living human.

Oh and basically when she moved to Bekasi, she is not an urban woman anymore. She’s fall into the category of suburb family woman. By the time she had her second daughter, she’s molded into a perfect full hou(r)sewife; a husband, two daughters, small house, and has no self-esteem. Is it her choice?

She had baby blue, a kind of depression after birth that went unrecognizable and invisible because the society forced mothers and families to feel that having a baby means joyful and bliss. The society needs her children to be future workers and mothers of future workers of course. The pressure always had bad consequences. So the wheel turn itself.

Some or many women on certain class can’t escape from this powerful wheel. Terutama ketika dia diketahui menderita penyakit pernapasan menular yang juga diderita oleh kedua anaknya. Beban itu terasa lebih berat. There is lack of part-time job available. Her husband use the motorcycle and she has a bicyle. A bicycle to board 2 toddlers around the neighborhood. Becoming a housewife presented as a reasonable and pragmatic choice in itself. She can’t afford a domestic assistance or baby-sitter. She must carries her children everywhere.

She told me that she is fine with that. But it’s not the question I want to raise here. I want us to ask if what we considered as ‘the daily normal practice’ is fair for her and other family women and their family.

We shared the same passion for literature. I prefer read poems and feminist writings, she prefers children books because she is an excellent story-teller. We both earned a college degree from a prestigious state university. She’s an observant muslim. She never date, never had a boyfriend, never had sex. She followed the matchmaking process arranged by a council. Among the limited option, she chose her husband. The process took less than 4 months then they decide to get married. She was 27 year-old and determined to get married for many reasons that she should write herself.

There are many reasons for a family women prefer to be a housewife if she is living around Jakarta. The job sucks or if you are lucky it’s mediocre because you can get health insurance, the heavy traffic, bad public transportation, the nasty pollution, the impossible time management of leaving children at home while one of them has epilepsy, the whole business of drop and pick your daughter from school, housework, hospital visit, etc.

She is one of millions of industrial wives; discountable foundation of society. It’s a choice that many of us will do, not in the name of capital or the state but in the name of our unconditional love to our family. There is nothing wrong with that, unless it has been used to against us.

Malang, 23 Februari 2013

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