In a time where women’s day celebrations are about pushing brands through hashtags, videos, or distributing some cliched gifts, it is important to celebrate women in their true essence, and appreciate them each and every day.
While women are scaling greater heights in the current world, in terms of career and personal development, there still are some deep rooted biases within our society that don’t get talked about as much as we’d like them to be.
One of them is without a doubt single-hood. Single mothers more so.
Being single might be a choice, a quirk of fate, or a bit of both, and it is not necessarily the dreary state of existence that many people think it is.
I have met a lot of women in my life who have inspired me in ways I cannot put in words. Some influenced my style, some my writing, some deeply influenced my work ethic, some influenced my taste in music and movies, and so many other countless ways.
But I wanted to put this post together as an ode to the women who inspire me every day (who happen to be single).
Crescentia Kalpana David
I met Kalpana at work. She always wears a charming smile and is extremely witty. Her love or rather curiosity for history and everything vintage makes her so admirable. After knowing her for a year, I slowly learnt that she is a single mother. The way she handles it is absolutely phenomenal. I did not make any assumptions about her marital status, but she herself opened up to me after our acquaintance grew into fond friendship. Her son is the most beautiful child I’ve ever met, and all credit goes to her. This women’s day I want to give her a huge shout out for being the woman that she is and for inspiring me. I asked her to put in words her experiences as a single mother, and this is what she had to say.
When Priyanka asked me write about how I embraced the life of a single mother, I wondered if I have really embraced being one? If it means introducing one as a single mother, I haven’t done that yet.
I just realized that this is probably the first time I am admitting to being a single mother on a public forum. I wish I could say that I was wise enough to realize early in my marriage that it was not working and decided to walk out of it immediately.
No, that was not how it was; it has been a long process. But maybe that was for the good because I have no regrets now. This journey hasn’t been easy so far, but it has been smooth compared to the lives many other women.
I always believe in counting one’s blessings. So here it goes.
To be born in this age is a privilege. If you know me, you will know that I love history. But I won’t choose to go back to any period in the history of any country. Histories of all countries have been terrible to women irrespective of the class or caste they belonged to. I am happy that I am living in this period when almost everything can be done online, and we don’t have to stand in queues to pay bills etc. There are so many career options now; we can own property, travel alone, wear what we like, choose a partner, or choose no partner at all. I am fortunate to have a supportive family and a bunch of very good friends. I especially love that my parents, brother, and sister-in-law have supported me without questioning. I have come across laundry lists of what women should learn or achieve by the time they are in their twenties; before getting involved in a serious relationship, before getting married, before becoming a mother, and so on. Add one more to those lists from me that I realized from the “Aha” moments of my life.
Here are three things that I think any woman, single mother or otherwise, should learn. And yes, you can start learning them at any age.
- First—know your worth. Don’t derive your worth from transient stuff like qualification, work, talents etc. You are bigger than all that. Know that you are enough.
- Second—know your worth in $$. According to many financial advisers, women and men lack financial acumen. I believe women should learn to invest wisely. Not that I am good at handling finances, but my parents have guided me well. Your financial goals don’t have to necessarily be the ones that the world says is right. They must be inline with your value system.
- Third—all women should learn to drive. It helps a woman to be independent.
To paraphrase what J K Rowling said, difficulties strip away the inessential.
So, salvage whatever you can of your life or heart and put them together. Of course, it won’t be the same as it was before it was broken but someday you will see its beauty. You will have to alter your dreams but who among us hasn’t?
Dhanya Menon or creative genious or kalaakar as we’d like to call her is my eternal source of sanity and sunshine on most of my crazy days and normal days too. She has a very special place in my heart. She’s the purest and wisest person I’ve ever met. She lifted me up in my darkest moments after a heartbreak. After over two years of friendship, I came to understand that she’s been single by choice and I was awed by it. Here’s what influenced her to pursue life the way she has.
Lot of times, we, the women, have been advised (by people who mean well, of course) to find someone, settle down, buy a home, have kids, and the list goes on. In Indian context, it feels like marriage and happiness are synonymous. But life has a way to show that nothing is forever.
I have been influenced by some really amazing single people who have led a rocking life. I remember a charming colleague of my father’s. A polyglot, a man of a sophisticated palate, erudite, well-read, well traveled and a bachelor. He used to get along well with everyone, and women of our colony were constantly plotting to set him up with someone they knew. Of all the things that I remember about him, the foremost is how self sufficient and at peace he was with his singleness. I might even say that his life was rich because he devoted his time to so many things. I remember my paternal grandmother’s sister, who was single by choice and I have never seen anyone as positive and alive. Though she was a woman of limited education, she was a force to reckon with. She was active, a voracious reader of magazines and papers, and would keep herself occupied from the crack of dawn to the time her head hit the pillow. Both these people remind me that being single does not mean being miserable and you are as enriched as you allow yourself to be. For me, being single has been empowering. I have learned being comfortable with my own company. I immerse myself in activities that I enjoy and I’m grateful for my wonderful friends. I have not limited myself just because I am single. In fact, it has been the opposite. I have made my choices and I am comfortable with them. I do not seek validation from anyone, rather I just know that whatever I choose to be at that moment, is fine by me. Being single has taught me this:
Love yourself first, because that’s who you’ll spend the rest of your life with. If you are not happy with your own self, you might never be able to give happiness to anyone else.
I met Ankita when I was 15. I remember her as this stylish girl with the perfect hair. She was always so calm and composed while I was from the notorious lot. Although our acquaintance goes down to far more than a decade, our friendship was limited. But I’ve seen her grow into a woman of great strength and courage with the same charm and poise if not more. She’s a mother of two lovely boys, and watching her dote over them is an absolute bliss. Here’s to her journey towards single parenthood.
Being a parent is a rollercoaster!
Raising kids takes a lot of dedication, selflessness and straight-up hard work – if you’re doing it right, that is! ; ) But when you’re a single parent , everything is just amplified. It’s parenting on steroids! 🙂 Double the work, double the disciplining, lots of multi-tasking and barely any “me-time!!”
But, hey! It’s also the double the laughter and double the fun!
Luckily, I’ve had the encouragement of my family and friends right from the start who’ve been a strong support system enabling me go out there and chase my dreams while I raise my two amazing boys. Coming from a fairly traditional family, I never ever dreamt that I would find myself being a single parent. Life took me down a rough road, however.
After several attempts at trying to make a failed marriage work, I found myself living back at my mothers’ place while I was pregnant with my second child. Things were not easy at first; it was a bit of an uphill battle.
For most part of that year, I was depressed and in an extremely unhealthy mental state. But I knew I couldn’t stay that way forever. I had to pick myself up and hustle both for myself and for my children. So I went back to work while my mother helped care for my new-born.
Thus, began my journey towards healing. I am very aware of the fact that much of my story from then on has been divinely orchestrated. God placed very specific people at various points in my life to steer me towards building myself and my life back up again. Help came in the form of long-lost childhood friends, pastors and leaders, and even acquaintances who quickly became part of my new family!
I’m happy to say I’ve come a long way since then. I have fought, against all odds for my kids to have a safe, peaceful and encouraging atmosphere to grow up in and today, I’m proud of myself for having built that for the three of us! We are surrounded by people who love and care for us and I can’t wait to see all that life has in store!
So if you’re a single mom – Here’s a huge shout-out to you. You guys are warriors. Remember your kids are going to be super proud of you, someday. So celebrate and enjoy them everyday!
Sharon akka, as I’d like to call her is a family friend. I hadn’t even met her until I went to London. Not once in my life. But she was kind enough to offer us a stay when we went on our trip. When I started spending time with her I came to realize all the struggles that she’s been going through. The grace with which she hides her pain behind that charming smile is remarkable. I have thoroughly enjoyed her company, and she continues to inspire me with her ever loving and giving nature. Here’s how she put in words a battle that’s far beyond anything that can be written.
A few of my friends who are aware of my personal situation for over a year now, messaged me when the watched the trailer of the movie #thappad. One of them said it reminded me of you and the strength with which you have been fighting for so long now to get justice for yourself and Ranen.
Domestic abuse breaks you in every way you can imagine, not just your heart, body, and mind. It breaks your soul. With all that brokenness I picked myself up each day and fought. It is the ugliest and the longest process of separation I have ever imagined. I’ve been Ranen’s sole care giver and provider, a single mother with a full-time job and no family around. There’s nothing that we haven’t been through. I don’t know how we survived. My biggest regret has been not standing up for myself and buying this flawed concept of arranged marriage in India. The only regret I don’t have is my blessing Ranen, I get my strength from him. If it wasn’t for him I would not have recognized the things that were going wrong in my marriage and would have probably never come out of it.
I have met people who constantly ask me, “Is this happening because you are Indian? Is it in your culture? I still struggle with the question in my mind, “Am I any less of a human being and is my value as a human being any lesser because I belong to a certain culture?” I wouldn’t have been able to come this far without the help of my family, my mentor at work, and my friends who stood by me through it all.
How can we contribute to making life better for single women/mothers?
- Steer clear of biases.
- Keep yourself from probing questions about someone’s martial status.
- Stop making assumptions over what you see on social media.
- If you know of a couple that’s separated, never be convinced with one side of the story. Be mindful of what you say to either of them or friends in common.
- Be more empathetic.
- Sometimes people just need to be heard, they’re not always seeking advice.
- Stop holding yourself up on a moral high ground because life has been different for you.
- Be inclusive.
Happy Women’s Day to all the women out there.
Rad All Day.