Single mothers fight, each day of their lives, especially in a culture like ours where they’re either looked down upon or sympathized with. They’d rather face the waters alone than doing it with someone who goes running back to the shore as soon as the waters get rough. Some broken, some betrayed, some abandoned, these women have always stood invincible throughout history, raising some of the toughest kids the world has seen.
Marie Curie for instance, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, raised two young daughters alone after her husband died in an accident and one of her daughters, Irène Joliot-Curie, grew up to co-win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with her husband for their work on radioactivity.
J.K. Rowling, an author who rose to fame with her famous ‘Harry Potter’ series, wrote the first four books in the series as a single mother. She is now the president of Gingerbread, an organization that works with single parents and helps their children find resources and programs to succeed.
India’s first female Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi who worked hard to make our country self-sufficient, entrusted a sense of duty and responsibility in both her sons, Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi, who both became politicians. Rajiv Gandhi went on to become the Prime Minister of our country. Although controversial, this woman was a symbol of power and would exude confidence.
Today, out of all single parent run households in the world, 84% are looked after by women. As per a United Nations report ‘Progress of the World’s Women 2019-2020’, about 13 million households in India are run by single mothers. These heroes, sans capes, may be widows, divorcees, spinsters or just someone who walked out of an unhappy marriage with a child they must look after.
It takes one hell of a woman to raise a child alone. Battling financial, emotional and health problems alone, alongside raising a child with utmost care, love and affection is no joke. Single mothers impart life lessons to be treasured. They do not just teach you how to be independent, but also teach you how to make the most out of limited resources.
It is definitely not an easy task to look after a home where things are always tight in every possible way. Sometimes, regular flow of income and money seem like the only thing which can relieve stress and insecurity. Single mothers teach you that although money can buy us those materialistic things which bring us temporary happiness, it is not the only thing we need to stay happy.
Women have a separate identity of their own and they do not always need a man to lean on. Single mothers do not need anybody’s support or help, all they need is to be left alone so they can cope with changes in a society where they are considered incomplete without men in their lives. Every legal document requires the father’s name to be mentioned mandatorily, but not necessarily the mother’s. Why do we still put up with this unnecessary patriarchal practice? It is about time we ensure that both the man and woman get equal credit for their parenthood.
Being raised by a single parent turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me, and I’m sure all such people raised under similar circumstances would agree with me on this. I take pride in the fact that my at times irritated, cranky and nagging mother made me the fearlessness and independent
person that I am today. The trauma that one goes through, being raised by a single mother makes one stronger beyond compare. It’s hard growing up without a father, but when you have a mother who plays both roles so effortlessly, you don’t feel the absence of a father figure in your life at all.
My mother, just like those 13 million other moms in India, proves to the world, every single day, with a spatula in one hand and a hammer in the other, that she can do anything and everything around the house and outside, without the help of a partner.
Single mothers teach their kids how to be decisive, since they are the only ones taking charge of everything in their own lives. This certainly does not mean that men raising their children single handedly are doing a bad job. Single parenting cannot be considered ‘Taboo’ anymore and the society must accept the fact that treating it as one, only makes things difficult for the already struggling single parent.
For Indian women, being a single mother can be twice the work, twice the stress and twice the drama, but it’s also pride and love – times infinity!
Can we give these superwomen a cheer?
(Rifa Deka is pursuing her Masters in Journalism and Masscom from Royal Global University, Guwahati)