As A Single Parent, I’m A Mommy Co-Learner With My Daughter, Not Just Her Mother!

Posted: May 13, 2019

As a single parent of a daughter, this mom is proud of her child’s pride in her as a writer, and would rather be called a ‘parent’, eschewing the expected pedestal that comes with being a mother in India.

“But kids don’t stay with you if you do it right. It’s the one job where, the better you are; the more surely you won’t be needed in the long run.” ― Barbara Kingsolver, award winning American writer.

I remember going to a daycare as a young child. One day, there was an inspection, and one of the visiting officials, a bespectacled senior lady asked, “So kids, what do you want to become when you grow older?” The answers ranged from astronaut, puppeteer, to the usual teacher, doctor, and when it was my turn, in my typical loud and strident voice even as a 5 years old, I said- “Mother!”

The way I witnessed my working mother carry herself in her life, the way she talked to me about another mother of two boys – Indira Gandhi who was then the first woman Prime Minister of India, I would think that being a mother was the most glorious “job” ever, and everything else you could do on the side.

As I grew up, I realized that being a mother was not really a personal choice for most Indian women, often a compulsion, and it wasn’t a job really. It was what they were expected to do to “justify” their existence in this deeply patriarchal and feudal society.

The writing was on the wall: whatever else you do, just be a mother for sure, preferably of sons!

Becoming a mother

In a few years as a sexually active adult I chartered the territory of unsafe sex and the fear of unplanned pregnancies. And I realized how significant reproductive rights were to my identity as a woman. I finally took the leap a few years after my marriage into motherhood, and as the cliche goes, dived straight into the deep darkness of post-partum depression.

So unlike the glossy mothering magazine covers and the perfect looking mothers on TV and billboards I was the no-combed-hair for a week mom who would often feel suicidal. Motherhood was not the pristine peaceful space that it is made out to be, but was the most difficult and tormenting period of my life.

Things did ease out later with some professional help and therapy, and I found an evolved co-learner in the offspring, and that’s where my journey to becoming more than a mom also began.

Not ‘just’ a mom, but a co-learner with my daughter

I no longer wanted to be “just” mom, I wanted to be an equal co-learner and evolve in more ways than one.

Since I was left single-handedly taking care of her and addressing my own physical and mental health concerns, I took to writing online, and since then have been more than a mom to two acclaimed blogs, columns, articles on worldwide platforms, and a published book of translated short stories along with contributions to many anthologies, journals, and portals.

I strongly believe that motherhood sharpened my existing interpersonal skills, made me grow in empathy and spirit, whereas the toll it took on my mental and physical health also made me tilt towards mental health and disability activism.

The pride shown by my daughter vindicates me

Every time my little one in a Montessori class would chirp loudly and say – “My mom is a writer, her superpower is words!”, my invisible crown would glow. Thankfully my writing and reading inculcated the love for literature in her too, and now we are a pair of in-house writer and reader. What more can one ask for?!

I often write about issues concerning women in India and it has become easier to empathize, ideate, and get motivated or agitated about these issues because of my daughter. It is via the route of being a parent that I have become a better writer who looks at issues more holistically keeping the next generation in mind, and updates oneself with their lingo and concerns.

Parent – not just a mother

I like to be identified as a parent of the female gender more than as “mother”, because it is a heavily-loaded word and concept in my part of the world. I have shunned all the pedestals of great motherhood now as a single parent, and I believe in wholesome parenting rather than being just dad or just mom. This, I feel, is the need of the hour to have a better, equal, and sensitive world.

Be their wings
be their wind beneath
but don’t charter their flight
co-learning at its best
let them fight their fight!

What happens in a social milieu like ours that anyway tells a woman that she is not important enough? That her dreams are secondary? That everything else comes first, and maybe after everything is taken care of, can she dare to dream for herself? What happens once she becomes a mom? 

But the badass woman of today doesn’t have to put herself last – maybe she can do both? Being a mom AND being herself? Finding a place for her dreams too, and going after them, without attempting to be the ‘superwoman’ society wants her to be? Do you believe in being #MomAndMore?

Editor’s note: Pooja Priyamvada is the fifth winner of our #MomAndMore blogathon for Mother’s Day! She wins an Amazon gift voucher for Rs 500. Congratulations from Team Women’s Web!

Image source: Pooja Priyamvada

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Pooja Priyamvada is a columnist, professional translator and an online content and Social Media consultant.

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