Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Single mothers- Do we really respect their choices?

While there are enough marriages where both partners endure a nonexistent or worse a bad relationship for the sake of children, there are a lot of people nowadays who opt for being a single parent. The decision to become a single parent is a difficult one and it’s even more difficult when you are a woman. I don’t have statistics but there are more women who opt out of bad marriages with children and decide to raise the child herself- purely maternal instincts or may be because the child becomes the anchor of their life. The tragedy is that most people are curious to understand the reasons for the marriage or relationship to fail rather than see the courage the person has demonstrated to take a decision and live by it for the sake of her child or herself. And we thought that today the greatest things some of us have is a CHOICE – we can choose to work or stay at home, study or become a nomadic traveler and in the same breadth decide to live our life with someone or go separate ways.

It’s sad though that the social ecosystem hardly supports these decisions and worse most men walk away , remarry easily and live happily ever after but what about the woman- she often pays for the choice she made by living a more difficult life ? May be that’s the reason most women till today decide to be in the relationships, endure the pain and become more reconciled to their fate.

I think all of us would have met such people at the workplace or amongst friends and family . I happen to one as well. She was raised like all of us in small town, educated and made independent by her parents. However unlike few of us who came to big town for higher education, pursued professional courses and basically lived and learnt to be on our own, she continued to be in her home town and just so that you get the picture right, there’s only a handful of girls who today move to metro towns for further studies. So she completed her graduation, did a professional computer course and guess what parents found a good match at the right age ( or so they say) of 24-25 and she was married off. A year and a half  later of a bad marriage and impending pregnancy, she took the brave move of deciding to move out of the marriage with a 3 month old son and not for herself but for the sake of the child – to give the child a normal upbringing rather than a bitter childhood. Today it’s been 8 years and it’s a journey she would rather like to forget. She says she was blessed to have parents who were understanding enough to stand by her and help her raise her child for last so many years as she struggled, fell only to rise up again to be financially independent. But there were enough moments to make her feel the pain. She does not regret her decision but she does regret the long winding legal struggle for a separation and custody of the child, the innumerable glances people gave her of being a divorced women, the unsolicited advice on what to do with her life and worse the easy judgmental opinions about how she did not spend enough time invested in the relationship- In a nutshell, she could have continued her suffering in the hope that one day things will fall in place – her husband and in laws will start loving and accepting her.

Things have gone better as time flies but something’s will take aeon's to change. She does meet new people- Some she likes, some like her but the moment they know her status of being a single mother , things change. Some even suggested her to leave her child with her parents and start afresh – can you imagine? But that talks a lot about small town society today where even for a divorced/ widowed man with 2 kids, they can go ahead and get a girl half his age who would willingly marry and accept the 2 kids as her own but the other way round is just not happening.

Even in so called progressive society of metro town, you can find far and few empathy when a single mother comes late for work for she needed to nurse her sick child or the domestic help crisis has descended on her. The gossip mill run overtime  if she happens to hang around with male colleagues over drinks or decides to let her hair down in a party for once. There always seem to be more interest in her personal life than professional achievements. But few see the daily effort of raising a child all by herself. Most of us have our better halves and no matter how much we all complain, an evening chat, a pat on the back, a helping hand always makes it easier for us. As they say, sharing doubles the joy and halves the sorrow.

Few months ago, I did a post on letting go of relationships and saw a different perspective and basically this boils down to the choice an individual made suiting his or her situation in the circumstances she was in. However what troubles is that in the earlier case , the lady in question was able to endure the earlier pathos of the relationship to eventually find peace. In this case , the external factors, society at large and our systems made a person ,who was so called free from the shackles of a bad relationship, go through the pain post she moved on in the relationship as well and somewhere continues to fee so being under the scrutiny of public eye . And perhaps that’s what makes a life so ironical and difficult to comprehend.

1 comment:

Hariharan Valady said...

It is important that women have economic independence so that they can take their decisions without being under pressure. As for the way society looks at them, it will take a long time to change. This friend of your has shown remarkable courage in this regard.