They say that , "Being a single parent is twice the work, twice the stress and twice the tears but also twice the hugs, twice the love and twice the pride."
I am perpetually in awe of Single Moms who literally do it all. I feel that we all could stand to learn from them and their journey.
This week the Times of Amma is happy to feature, Udita Saklani , mom to an almost 2.5 year old lovely daughter named Varanya or Zuzu as she is called at home. Udita has been a single mother for almost 1.5 years now. She is an IT consultant working with a top MNC. She calls herself an engineer by profession and a writer/blogger by passion. She blogs at With Love Zuzu.
What is the toughest thing about being a single mother in India?
As a single mom to a lovely daughter, I feel the toughest part about living in India, is the society. It is only society which will make you feel and recall every day that there is something weird or wrong about being a single mom. Sometimes when people say ‘I am sorry’ when they come to know that I am a single mom, it just gets to me. Of course, I try to ignore such people, but sometimes I also have tough days and people and situations like these worsen it. Half of the things in India revolve around our Society-As to what it will think or what it will say. So even when I was in the process of separation, the only thing which bugged me deep down was the fact that- What will the society say? Will It accept me? Call me kiddish or whatsoever but not even once did the thought of financial or the emotional factor bothered me. It was only the societal pressure which was looming over my head.
Do you feel that single mothers have it comparatively easier in other countries?
Yes, I feel that it is comparatively easier in other countries again all due to society. This is so unlike in India where people look down on you for being a single mother. So, from everywhere right from the certificate to the passport, the father’s name is given preference (I am not against fathers or males). But I feel that the law should be made flexible in the sense that if a woman was to navigate in this journey of single parenting things would be easier for her. Off lately, also the laws are changing to accommodate the needs of a single mom, but sometimes the questions one is asked at various institutions are harassing and emotionally draining. Also, financial aid is provided to single mothers for their enablement and empowerment in other countries.
Society, in general, has a tendency to glorify motherhood, elevating mothers to the status of goddesses. Do you feel that single Indian mothers are extended the same treatment?
So yes, when I tell people that I am a single mom, they do praise me for raising my daughter single-handedly and managing a full-time job plus a blog. Cut back to reality, sometimes it makes me wonder whether they are saying so because of sympathy! But in the end, I feel that whatsoever be their reason for praising me, I take it in my stride and in the right spirit. But I have had my shares of struggles like when I got stung by a relative’s stigma of what they thought of a single mom. But despite all this I chose to stay positive all because I must raise a strong-minded daughter. I can't cry because she is watching me all the time, and you sure don’t want to cry or feel sad in front of your little ones.
Could you tell us about your support system as you navigate life as a working mom?
I call myself lucky because the previous organization with which I worked, housed a day care. So, that was the time I was still in a relationship. After my separation, I switched to a new organization. Unfortunately, it didn’t have any day care. By this time, I had shifted to my parent's place. I had to search for a new day-care. I was apprehensive of my little one settling down in the new environment, but thankfully Zuzu (my daughter) didn’t take much time. It was on that day I realized that kids hardly take any time to adapt and delve into a new atmosphere. It is only we adults who constantly over think it! These days I work in UK shifts (Indian time 1 PM – 10 PM). So mostly I work from home, but when I have to travel to work, my parents pick her up from day-care at six in the evening, when they are back from work. I am grateful to my parents who have been ever supportive to me in my journey of single parenting. They are my biggest support system today. I am thankful to them because not many parents in India would want their daughter to stay with them after a separation or anything of that sort. I was lucky that after I got separated my parents accepted it with their heads held high and nothing to be ashamed about. They care for my daughter and even attend to my silly tantrums! I am thankful and grateful. Sometimes I wish I had more flexibility of working at my own will. That is the reason I took up to writing. I wish to take up a full-time career in writing one day.
What sort of societal changes would you look forward to as a single parent?
As a single mom in India, I really wish to see a change in people’s thinking and mentality. It would be really great if people would become mindful. Being a single mom is no easy feat and no women would ever wish for such a thing in her life. So, people should stop looking down upon single moms as though she chose this out of her own wish!The government and state changes have a long way to go, but we first need to bring corrective thinking in people’s minds.
What are your thoughts on 'me time'? What do you personally do for your 'me time'?
Frankly speaking, I started blogging and writing after my separation. That is exactly what my ‘ME TIME’ looks like now. I used to cry a lot after I wrote an article. But I felt the need to cry because I wanted to get it all out. I wouldn’t shy from saying that I used crying as a form of therapy. Also, I would like to iterate the fact that even though you feel good and light after crying, it is best to not make it a habit. Writing was also one thing which kept my mind from wandering to stray thoughts and in the long run has made me more positive. I love dancing but hardly get time for it.I am planning to incorporate it into my busy schedule in the form of Zumba or Aerobics.
Are you ever affected by pangs of 'mommy guilt'? If yes, how do you deal with it?
Oh Yes!! Mommy and guilt go hand in hand!! I think the guilt gene gets embedded in us the day we become mothers. So, single parenting or normal, we women are the same. Off late, I have been working UK timings and I hardly get to spend time with Zuzu. So, in the evenings, she has dinner with my parents and that further embeds the guilty factor in me. Often when I feel guilty, I feel so bad for Zuzu, that I start crying.
I overcome guilt by spending time with Zuzu in the mornings and during weekends. Our weekends generally involve a visit to the mall or a nearby park and playing indoor games.
What advice would you have for moms who are navigating the kind of journey you are on?
Frankly speaking, I don’t want to give any advice to moms on this journey. Not that I don’t want to help them, but I am often judged when I write articles on single mom parenting. Some don’t like reading it, some feel that I am promoting single parenting or divorce. But it is nothing of the sort. I always write what I have gone through and how I try to overcome it. The one thing I would like to say to all the single moms out there is a very generic rule which applies to everyone - BE POSITIVE!! Yes, trust me it helps. I don’t know what the future has in store for me and Zuzu, so I always try to live in the moment and not divert my mind as to how our future will look like. I swear by this mantra of living by the minute and the second.
Udita, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to the Times of Amma family. We are inspired by your positive attitude and wish you and your daughter all the very best.
If you are an Indian single mom or you know an Indian single mom whose journey would inspire others, please get in touch with me on Facebook or on Instagram. Your story might help guide someone charting similar waters.