By Shilpi Madan
Parenting is a lifelong experience, both challenging and fulfilling, that brings out the best in you, making your resilience scale amazing heights and funnelling in love in double the quantum when you chart the course solo. In conversation with three single moms who hold fort at home and at work with little one et al. Successfully.
Sharing gems on what makes it work for them:
Natasha Zalpuri, media practitioner
“Life as a single mother in a big city, with crazy working hours carries its share of struggles and high points. But women are great multi-taskers. I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit. I feel the toughest demand is to play the good parent and the strict parent both. If I am stringent, will I hurt Samaira’s feelings? If I am easygoing, will she turn into a spoilt brat? Over the years I have followed my instinct and we have found our rhythm. When things become difficult, both of us find a way to comfort each other or pull each other up. We learn as we flow, growing up together.
Between winding up daily chores, being professional at work, commuting in traffic…anxiety levels keep rising. I have dedicatedly carved out one hour of ‘me time’ to de-stress, and release the pent-up energy and emotions. It also made me feel guilty that I should spend that time with Samaira rather than being selfish and indulging in self-care. But I joined zumba classes, and took up reiki. It is just as important to take care of yourself as it is to take care of your child, because if you are unhappy or discontent, it will reflect in your relationship with the child.
On weekends, I make her favourites including pasta, pancakes, cupcakes…Samaira loves taking pictures and videos where she pretends to be a blogger. I indulge and we strike a pose and take selfies. I have been extremely lucky to have a sound support system in my parents who are around for Samaira at home, school mothers who chip in generously with help, and close friends who form a warm, loving cocoon. As a single mom, it is important to surround yourself with the right kind of people who add value to your life and those to whom your child can look upto.”
Nameeta Premkumar, entrepreneur
“I believe – ‘Being a single parent is twice the work, twice the stress and twice the tears but also twice the hugs, twice the love, and twice the pride’- and I share this with Annika all the time pre-empting the countless questions that arise in her mind and the queries she fields as the child of a single parent, from other kids.
I am living life on my own terms and am teaching my daughter to do the same. I did not plan to become a single mother. But I believe that a mother is a mother, no matter what.
My biggest challenge is dealing patiently with all of Annika’s questions, everyday. These include “Will you leave me as well?”, “Why can’t dad stay with us?” Annika often gets questioned by her peers on why her father does not live with us. I have always been honest with my child, no matter how harsh the truth. Children understand everything. It is best to be honest and upfront and talk about things with your child directly. Never make the child a pawn or put her in a situation of conflict in the journey to becoming a single parent. I have followed this anthem and this has made Annika more responsible, independent, sensitive and practical. My child is a big asset to me. She has not been mollycoddled by me, and understands and appreciates the fact that I am a working parent.
We share a deep bond that goes beyond friendship. I do share the credit of handling the entire divorce maturely and sensibly, with my ex-husband as well. Annika spends time with her father every Sunday.
Of course, I have a great support system emotionally in my father and his wife (he remarried when my mother passed away after 40 years of marriage), my friends, family and at my work place. This is crucial to me being able to juggle everything, everyday. For me, Annika’s happiness is what matters the most.
Stella Turner, media practitioner
I was at the receiving end of domestic violence from my ex-husband and his parents, as I had given birth to a girl child. I took off when it came to my little one’s life. Ever since I moved back into my parents home with her, I have had to deal with my own mother’s reservations (till date) about being a divorcee with a child. Such is life.
I always wanted a baby girl to love, and my princess is my universe. We enjoy our time every night through a storytelling session. Our favourite is the story of a princess who trained her dragon and flew out of the castle she was trapped in, instead of waiting for a prince to rescue her. I want to share with her, as she grows up, my belief that you can rescue yourself from any situation in life and come out with flying colours. We have that latent strength in ourselves to draw on.
It took me a few years to help Sarah overcome her fear of colours (having witnessed my bruises early on), as she would panic at the sight of especially green and red. She clings to me even now.
My father, and my friends, form my support system. Being in the media business, working hours stretch on at times, and I need to travel as well. But Sarah and I plan a big outing every month and relish the time we spend together. As a single parent, I have many expenses to cover but I always explain to Sarah what we can afford on my salary. She is a sensible and sensitive kid and understands. I craved love as a child from my mother, and love is what I shower on Sarah, selflessly. That is all she asks of me: hugs and kisses.
Every morning I make Sarah say this “I am blessed, I am happy and I will be peaceful”. I want to teach her that no one can make her feel inferior without her permission and make her a born survivor, like me.