The Dilemma of a Single Mom
- IWB Post
- August 26, 2014
‘Why don’t you get married? Today we are there, what if something happens to us?’
‘Ma’am, I understand you are a single mother but we too are managing our families. Why do you think you are any different?’
‘You need to give more time to your child. She needs you. Give up that job if you have to’.
‘How can your house be so unkempt? Why don’t you do everything on time?’
Do these lines sound familiar? Or do they make you cringe? Or for some, do they dredge up some painful memories? For me, these words have almost become an everyday affair, yet they hurt even now. They are a constant reminder that I am a single mother who is fighting a new battle every day.
There have been times when I have had to prove my ‘motherhood’ to a bank by asking my daughter’s school to provide an affidavit saying that ‘I am her mother’ because the birth certificate has her late father’s name on it!
Single mothers in Jaipur are not an uncommon lot. You can find them in private companies , government enterprises and even on construction sites, where they carry their children to their workplace! But, somehow no one has really paid any heed to their problems or issues.
Their colleagues don’t know what to make of them and some even believe that its almost a ‘much ado about nothing’ situation. After all, even their wives are looking after their children at home! Little do they realize the huge difference between a single parent and a two-parent family!
The reasons can be many. In India, we apparently have a ‘good support system’. Family and relatives supposedly chip in to help the ‘bechari’. There is this huge rallying around the single mom and people proclaim that they will help her and her children. However, as the old adage says –‘all that glitters is not gold’, and so is the case with single mothers. The relatives who pledge to help do so but at a price. The single mother becomes a guinea pig, who is paraded around and shown to the kids and the ‘to be married’ girls in the family. Whispered comments follow her wherever she goes.
‘Beta, it’s important to learn how to cook and keep your house clean. Look what happened to XYZ aunty’.
‘Don’t raise your voice with us. You need to learn patience. Look what happened to XYZ . We don’t want such problems in our house’.
‘You better learn to make good food and don’t you tell us about whatever you go through in your in-laws place. You need to adjust. We will not listen to you like XYZ’s parents did.’
The ‘chip in’ takes a ‘chip out’ of her heart every time a single mom hears such comments. Her parents are blamed, her education is blamed and her very life is blamed.
Some are more resilient and take it with a pinch of salt, while others shed silent tears, lest their children see them crying.
In some cases, mostly in traditional families, single mothers are ‘singled out’ for the royal treatment. They are not invited in weddings, sometimes even of their own children, they are considered inauspicious, so are asked to sit and watch the entire ceremony from afar.
Imagine, someone who has raised her child with her own sweat and blood, now cannot even participate in his/her happiness, lest her ‘bad luck’ rubs off her/him!!
The stigma associated with single mothers will not go away unless we decide to do something about it. Let’s face it; single mothers have no support system! They are left at the mercy of a cruel, judgemental, hypocritical society which though loves to talk about Nargis Dutt’s powerful depiction of a single mother in movies like ‘Mother India’ but looks down upon the real ‘Mother India’.
If we really want to remove this stigma, we need to look at the bottom-line.
What makes single mothers so susceptible to such mental and emotional trauma?
The fact that they need to play the mom and dad all on their own?
The fact that they need to tend to that tiny scrape on the knee, ensure that the home work is done, projects are made and also pay the fee and ensure that there is food on the table?
The fact that they have no one supporting them financially?
Even if they are financially independent, do they have the resources to take care of their children when they fall prey to an illness or some unexpected circumstances? In countries like US and UK, single mothers can avail special allowances like income support, tax exemption, tuition fee support. However, none of this exists in India.
Today, if something happens to me, who pays for my child’s education? Though they do exist in some multi nationals, ‘work from home’ is hardly a norm in the state. Come hell or high water, the single mom has to trudge her way to work.
While some metros boost of child care facilities, most crèches in the state are hardly places you’d like to leave your child in.
So, where does that leave us? How do we raise the future of this nation in the best way possible? The number of single mothers in the country is constantly increasing thanks to the burgeoning rate of divorces.
Single moms need all the support they can get so that they can raise a happy, balanced individual who can contribute in the progress of the country.
Is anyone listening? Can we start a new revolution?
About the Author:
Shailaza Singh is a single mother who is currently working as a marketing editor for Ratna Sagar Publications, Rajasthan. You can contact her here (a page dedicated to single mothers in Rajasthan).