As father’s day passed by, I see a lot of these trends like #SalutingSingleMoms #FathersCanBeMothersToo , because this is what people make single parenting all about. When in an advertisement you see a son gift his mother a mug that says ‘World’s Best Dad’, or a meme saying in effect that a single dad is as caring and loving as a mom, it immediately becomes aspirational.
What you don’t know and I won’t lie; three years back all this is what I thought it meant to be a single parent. I wanted to be that mom who got that Mug from her son. I thought the people around me would question my decision and I will be judged and I would have to fight and struggle hard to be his parent – both his parents.
I remember a piece of advice I had gotten from a well wisher, saying that now since I was his only parent I needed to be his dad too. I needed to be rough with him and throw him around like a father would so that he does not feel like he is missing out on any life experience. And for the most part I believed that.
Then began the process of trying to be two people to one. I had to be Mom and Dad and I had to do it right or else my son would be missing something. And so I turned into this helicopter parent who worried too much, disciplined way too often and demanded way too much from a toddler. I began to lose sleep and smiles over doing this parenting thing right.
But I was still judged, for being too modern and how this radical thinking would not give me and my son any comfort. I was told that there is a void – a deep void that I cannot fill alone. People pointed out my pitiful existence and sorry state of affairs so many times. And then there was another extreme that lauded me for my beliefs and even put me on that exalted pedestal that I wanted to be on a single mom = to a dad = the bravest strongest person alive. I was lauded for heralding in Women Supremacy and Empowerment.
But honestly, neither one made me happy. Because I was not either one of them, I lived an almost normal life somewhere in between both these extremes. For three years as his only parent, I have realised that there are many things I learnt about being a single parent.
We are not looking to fill a void in life because nothing is incomplete
No let me rephrase that, there is no more of a void in my life than there is in anyone elses. Yes I am single and yes I am a parent, but that is it. Don’t read anything more into that statement. We are all different and want different things from life, just like any normal person. And yes we are not abnormal.
Single Parent is always missing out on something
No really I am not sad and not a victims. I am actually for the most part very happy, and satisfied with my life. I make choices and prioritise things in life, but then so do most parents today. Yes on an off day, I do feel like I need a Personal assistant, but then who doesn’t? There are way too many experiences to have in life and the day is very short to do it all. I have never missed an important occasion in my son’s Life and have never had to compromise. That is just a choice I make every day.
Our kids are mostly happy and don’t miss what they don’t have
Yes, really my son is normal and healthy and most of the times does not know even that he is missing something. On a rare occasion that he does I just deal with it normally and he moves on. Actually you never miss what you never had. And if the child is healthy and happy, is he missing anything at all?
I am not one of two extremes. Mostly I toe the middle.
I am neither a very brave and strong woman, nor a weak damsel who needs saving. On most days I am just a normal person going about doing things that need doing. My life’s choices have brought me to this place today, but then so has everyone else’s. There are days that I breeze through and some days I don’t want to get up out of the bed. But on most days I am dealing with what life throws my way, one minute at a time, one day at a time.
Yes he carries my name….but it doesn’t mean I am replacing his father
You know what I hate most, when a form readily substitutes his middle name for Father’s name. Why does the society think that children’s identity begins and ends with their father are a debate for another day! But what I want to say is that just because he carries my name I am in no way trying to replace his father. Or worse be his father, it is a hard enough job being his mother. All I am doing is giving him an identity he can identify with. With some it is their father’s name, with others like us it is not. But that definitely does not mean that I can be two people to him. I am just trying everyday to be the parent that he needs.
I am his mother, I am his only parent. And I am doing the best job of being his parent that I can. Being a single parent is a matter of chance or choice. When it is chance, well you learn to grow into it. When it is by choice you know what to expect (though as I said before there can be certain unrealistic expectation). I am not saying it is easy, I am not saying it is just the same like parenting with a spouse (I know I miss the good cop while trying to disciple him sometimes). All I am saying is this, being a single parent is neither being a victim nor being a super human. It is just about being a parent, the best way you know how.