May 10, 2009

Mum's the wor(l)d!


ALL mothers ARE “working” mothers!!!

Today…as we celebrate MOTHER’S DAY, the blogger stand vindicated of its belief articulated a few years back. Times are truly changing. As we ‘progress’… the path to enjoy the choice exercised by you is increasingly being paved with support and understanding. Yours truly had once said, when MY generation decides to enter motherhood, it’s going to be much easier for us to do it OUR way.

Presented here is an article from TIMES LIFE, a supplement of the SUNDAY TIMES OF INDIA which explores the gradual paradigm shift in the traditional notions of ‘motherhood’. As we move with the times, it REALLY symbolizes the essence of ‘progress’…and gives us a very clear picture of times to come.

Mom alone

Unwed, single, scared and yet brave — the new-age Mother's Day embraces motherhood of all kinds. Sreemoyee Piu Kundu explores


WOMEN nurture a Cindrella Syndrome — a loving husband, kids and a picture perfect home. But as a single mom, I’ve learnt that you don’t always need a Prince Charming to walk into the sunset!” That’s 32-year-old Parul Toria, single parent to a teenaged son, talking. Parul is just one of the many single moms who are redefining the very definition of parenthood in a contemporary urban scenario.


The twilight zone of single moms is a fortified universe guarded by maternal pride, and the need to be a material and emotional provider. “Single parenting is daunting, involving multitasking at all levels,” adds actress Pooja Bedi, single mom to 11-year-old Aalia and nine-year-old Omar. Thankfully, social acceptance is forthcoming. Kalyani Chawla, VP, Christian Dior, India, and a single mother feels, “There’s great respect for women who’re working to support themselves and bring up children as single moms. Once you can afford to take care of yourself and your children emotionally, on your own, more than financially, you find ground for great pride and self-worth. Today, women are financially independent. You don’t need a man anymore to fulfil a false sense of security.”


The rise in urban divorce rates coupled with redefined gender rules has transformed modern-day motherhood from a biological obligation to a 24-hour job. “In the past, a single mom raised her kid in the cocooned shelter of her parents’ home. Now, with nuclear homes and working women — it’s a challenge — spending quality time with the child and also being a pro at work. The struggle is more internal now,” holds Parul.
Single moms grapple with the void in their own lives too. Divya Khanna, a single mom to her 11-year-old daughter Megha adds, “Immediately after divorce, moms want to vent their frustration and the child is all she has. But, one needs to cultivate a positive support system and not badmouth the father in front of the child as it instills negative emotions.”
Teething problems apart, single moms are up for the challenge. Lecturer Sunaina Lal, who discovered she was pregnant two months after being dumped by her fiancé, recalls, “I was scared. At 30, being an unwed, single mom wasn’t on life’s agenda. When I decided to keep my child, a lot of people pitied me saying, ‘God will take care of your child.’ Their condescending attitude made me feel my child was being singled out. Wanting a baby puts a woman in control of her destiny and it’s a decision to be lauded!”


In the humdrum of daily life, only the fittest survive. Meena Sharma, a teacher and a single mom to an eight-year-old son says, “I separated when Akash was only nine months old. I jumped jobs — lured by better pay and flexi-timings. Even today, many employers say my resume is choppy — but they don’t realise single moms aren’t like regular employees. We have to pay bills, attend PTA meetings and rush home if our child has fever.”
TV actress Achint Kaur, who separated when her son was three adds, “I customised my work schedule to accommodate my son’s every need. I rarely accepted outdoor schedules and worked only for 15-18 days a month. During and before his board exams, I informed my producers that I wasn’t available. Being professionally productive ensures people understand.” Yet one can’t deny the inherent pull at a mom’s heartstrings. Kalyani adds, “My daughter’s principal said, ‘Don’t feel guilty about being a working mother, every teacher teaching your daughter is one.’”


Most single moms grapple with disciplinary issues walking the fine line between indulgence and maternal love. “Usually parents balance each other out — while one’s strict, the other pampers. I’m the softer one and thus handling Megha’s rebellious bouts is tough,” admits Divya, adding, “Her dad always meets her outside, taking her to malls and coffee shops and spoiling her with shopping sprees. Their visits are more like dates. He doesn’t realise the impact it has.”
Is it wise then to keep the father out? Meena says, “Till my son was four, he never knew what a dad was. But, one day, after watching a man leave for work on a scooter, he asked, ‘Is that dad?’ It was time to mend
fences. I called my ex after years. Today, I know there’s someone there, apart from me, on whom my son can depend on.”
Sunaina adds, “My 10-yearold daughter once asked, ‘Do you miss dad?’ Initially, I said, ‘No, ma loves you, dad’s far away.’ But I couldn’t sleep for nights. I hadn’t disclosed my pregnancy to my ex. But, I’d wondered if knowing he was going to become a father may have changed his mind. I had to face my own demons. I traced him, mailing him pictures of Apsara. For months, there was nothing. And then one evening, I got a call from Dipin — a much married father of two daughters settled in Delhi. He even visited us, offered monetary help, but I refused knowing he wouldn’t be able to come clean to his family and that seemed hypocritical. I was scared of Apsara’s response — but her strength amazed me. After he left, she hugged me saying, ‘Ma, are you okay?’ It was a moment of retribution.”


Filling in a father’s shoes is no mean task. But Chawla says, “Create dedicated moments with your l’il one.” Psychologist Seema Hingorrany adds, “Single moms try to compensate lack of quality time through materialistic spoils. But, being there emotionally is the key.”
Meena says of her bonding ritual, “Every four months we go for a small holiday. Sundays too are reserved just for us — we cook, play board games and dance.”


A lot of single moms shy away from finding love for themselves. “The fear of being exploited again and the impact it can have on kids keeps love out,” says Seema. Meena adds, “Lots of men think it’s cool to date a single mom. But what most guys don’t realise is that a single mom can’t just go out on casual dates at the drop of a hat. I have to look out for my son first.”
Pooja, who was seeing choreographer Haneef Hilal feels, “Expose your kids to the people in your life. Even today, there’s no bitterness between Haneef, me and my kids, post our split. Kids need to know that love and respect exist between their mom and the men in her life, whether or not the relationship sustains.”


Being the perfect single mom is an uphill journey. But, the rewards overshadow the regrets. “Being a single mom isn’t as burdensome like films and serials portray — yes, there are moments when you face social pressure, rebellion from your child and professional dilemmas, but the joys of knowing you are their hero is unparalleled. Last year, on Mother’s Day, Apsara was awarded the best allrounder trophy in school and upon being asked whether she missed a dad, she just pointed at me saying, ‘That’s my dad!’ What’s bigger than that?”


  1. A lovely article, moved me to tears. It is a true tribute to motherhood. Thanx for putting it up :)