Nobody has it easy and definitely not the single mothers. From handling all things alone- work to relationships to children to inner peace, they find themselves struggling and hustling daily.
How does decision-making, financial responsibilities, household chores, taking care of one's own health and making sure that one's children are being provided with the right upbringing sound like if one person has to look after all of them? Ask a single parent. They know a lot.
Especially when one is a single mom, it is not just these responsibilities and dealing with overwhelming feelings of emptiness, mistrust, insecurity but also handling people who try to pull them down, judge their lifestyle- success or failure, blame them for their divorce or disrespect their choices. For the ones who choose to be a single parent, they made their own choices but for the ones who are divorced or widowed (much worse when it happens in their mid-life), they are inflicted upon with certain conditions, in the course of their life, that are out of their control but it is how one comes out of it speaks about their strength and resilience.
Although the story of each single mom is different, the emotional struggles that single moms carry are all the same. Mad respect for all of them! Let's hear it from one of the single mothers with a teenager. Over to someone I have known closely since my childhood!
Q. HOW DO YOU FEEL RIGHT NOW?
A. "I feel a lot confused. All this- my husband cheating- happened all of a sudden. I didn't see it coming. Had a hunch but didn't expect him to start another family leaving the old one behind. I still wonder why it all happened but don't really care to ask him anymore on this topic. It's over. It's a difficult journey and has too many responsibilities. Now, I am nearing old age, I feel lonely and to groom a teenage son, it is difficult to play both the roles of a mother and a father."
Q. WHAT DOES CO-PARENTING MEAN TO YOU? IS IT ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY? HOW HAVE YOU BENEFITTED TILL NOW FROM IT?
A. "Co-parenting is surely important. A mental upbringing is built when both the parents are there for the child. In a boy's life, I feel a dad's influence, time and love is one of the most important thing. Dads would know better about how their son's psychology can work. Plus, when there are two parents, the child gets exposure from both sides. Me, being in the academics career (a teacher) won't be able to give much exposure of the corporate/ outer world that his dad is more familiar with. Companionship is the most important lesson a child picks up when his parents are in harmony."
Q. WHAT DO YOU THINK SOCIETY THINKS ABOUT SINGLE MOTHERS? HOW DO YOU WANT THEM TO BE LOOKED AT?
A. "I think mindset varies regionally. Some places are more supportive and inclusive than the others, accept and adapt to changes and modern-lifestyle faster, less orthodox. Not demeaning any particular community but since I have lived in Kolkata for my entire life, I know how Bengalis here around me are. Bengalis outside of Kolkata have wider exposure, broader mindsets and point-of-views, not just bound by their own culture. There is no harm in that, don't get me wrong. I speak of my experiences here. Although, it depends on the character of the individual (single moms) as to how they stand up to society.
As for me, I don't really wonder much about how society should look at single mothers. I believe they have a lot of endurance and strength already that outside views stop mattering to them after a certain point in time. I think one should just learn to ignore people who aren't important to your life. You are a single mom, you have a lot of responsibility, you have learnt from your mistakes, now you are more independent, wiser and smarter than ever. So act like it!"
Q. HOW ARE YOU PLANNING TO CHASE YOUR ASPIRATIONS NOW?
A. "Mine is not a target-oriented field, so I don't have any specific goals as of now. But now that I have a bit more free-time to myself since family-time is reduced as my son is also in his 12th and has his own life, I like to spend on myself, my well-being, think of starting an alternate career. I don't have fixed goals, anything can be decided all of a sudden. I am impulsive that way."
Q. HOW DO YOU BALANCE WORK/FINANCES AND HOME?
A. "I allot time to work and try to balance, not much of a difference till now than before. Maybe because it is all new and I am still learning."
Q. WHAT MOTIVATES/ INSPIRES YOU EVERYDAY?(BASICALLY WHAT GIVES YOU INNER STRENGTH?)
A. "Facing challenges makes one strong. One has to grow/develop their own motivation and personality in such a way that they do not cripple under those challenges. There is nothing like "Boost is the secret of our energy". *laughs*
In this case, books (self-help ones) don't help me, friend circles do a lot though, friends motivate me to do better. These days, I have also become a lot religious to God, frankly speaking, mostly out of fear and compulsion and not faith, just like an atheist, I make an effort to pray. Yeah, sounds selfish.
But one thing- Yoga has helped me a lot. I recommend. It has increased my concentration, I spend more time with my child, adapt and accept better, I try to incorporate and mold according to the changes in my son's life. His success is mine after all."
Q. WHAT PLANS/ADVICES DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUR CHILD? (IN TERMS OF RELATIONSHIPS/ CAREER/ STUDIES/ ANYTHING SPECIFIC YOU WANT TO CONVEY.)
A. "My only advice would be, play along in life, the way it happens. Opportunities, problems and life as they come, keep accepting but never forget to give your best. Suppose, if I die, I don't want him to sit and cry, I want him to accept it and not break from within. I have understood this from my experience."
Q. HOW DO YOU THINK SINGLE PARENTHOOD AFFECTS YOU AND MORE IMPORTANTLY YOUR CHILD?
A. "A child needs his parents the most in their adolescent period, parents have to take the effort and time out to bond well with their kids. We have started talking on topics like teenage problems, feelings, sex, etc more openly than it would have been if otherwise was the case. He also feels free to talk with me and I had told him that now that he has only me by his side, there is no way he can not tell me things about his life. Sharing is important. Yeah, we fight too. I don't know how much he misses his dad because he has never spoken about that to me. I am always there for him. For me, there has been a lot of sudden changes and now, getting back to my job with more rigor and setting new family orientations have been tough."
Q. HOW DO YOU SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR CHILD NOW? WHAT HAVE BEEN THE SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES IN DAY-TO-DAY LIVES OF YOU AND YOUR CHILD? (BEFORE n AFTER.)
A. "We work out and walk together after dinner or in the evenings. We cook together sometimes and he talks about his teachers, school, friends and all the fun he has at school. These are some of the significant changes in our relationship which I am glad of. For me, I have become more independent since much of the support system is no longer there."
Q. DO YOU WISH TO INTRODUCE SOMEONE NEW IN YOUR AND YOUR CHILD'S LIFE? IF YOU EVER DO, HOW WOULD YOU WANT TO GO ABOUT IT?
A. "Again, I will go with my philosophy of approaching life as it comes. I have not thought about it yet, but it is of course not a strict no-no. I mean, for the while, when my son is growing up and finishing his school to go to college, till then I don't want to indulge in it for sure as it will be just a huge distraction. Let him mature and grow up, understand how things work and then maybe I will think over it. For future, if something of this sort arises, then I will make my son understand about the importance of companionship before I take a decision. I wish he would respect that. It also depends on how strong my relationship with the man is, according to that I will know how to respond and what decision to take. As of now, nothing in mind."
Q. DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING MORE TO SAY OF YOUR OWN?
A. "We, single moms have to gather strength and keep moving ahead. It is like a natural calamity, it happens all of a sudden and you are left with no choice but to accept it. Planning your life ahead is important, work on your yourself and your job. Spend quality time with your child and be surrounded with good friends who support you. It is a bonus if you have a friendly workplace environment. Also, don't attach yourself to anyone just like that. Wise choices and mental strength go a long way. Don't repeat the past mistakes. I know I might feel alone after my son leaves for college but I also believe I can be fine if I want to."