Who do you love more- your mom or your dad? Is there an answer to this question? Can you pick one or both occupy a unique place in a child’s heart? I would like to believe it’s the latter. One is not a replacement for the other and these 2 adults who were raised in single-parent homes agree. While one of them lost his mother, the other grew up with her mother owing to her parent’s divorce. The situations may be different, but there is a commonality to both their stories. Let’s find out.
Chintan Desai, who hails from a small town in Gujarat, lost his mother to cancer. Though he found it extremely tough to bear her absence initially, he has developed immense strength today to bear this permanent loss in his life. That doesn’t mean however that her absence isn’t felt by Chintan. He says, “I miss her, especially during festivals. She was a magician in the kitchen, and I don’t think anyone can prepare a meal with the love that mom did. There are so many conversations I would like to have with her which I simply cannot have with my dad.”
Chintans draws great comfort in spending time with his mom’s friends as they remind him of her. Meeting them makes him feel that his mother is still around watching over him. However, he cautions that he doesn’t share this with his father as it would only make him sadder snowballing the effect on the entire family.
Chintan shares that after losing his mother, he sought comfort in meditation, spirituality and the bigger existential questions. Through this new-found activity, he has been able to develop great mental toughness and is better equipped to manage his emotions well. He has come to live by the belief that being in the present is more important than wastefully dwelling on situations on which we have no control.
Dr. Ruhi Satija, a psychiatrist & psychotherapist says that a child raised by a single parent who often is also a working parent grows up with an increased sense of responsibility, throws fewer tantrums and is more capable of taking care of his own issues. They can be easily out on their own too.
Nirali, from Rajkot, is a cricketer and plays for the Saurashtra Ranji Trophy Team. Her parents divorced when she was in Grade 5 and consequently, grew up with her mother. Nirali was traumatized by her parent’s separation. She shares, “I was very attached to my father. After separation, I would feel depressed seeing all the places my parents had fought in the house.” Nirali’s mother was a working woman, and she says that she felt vulnerable for a very long time. “I would keep crying, throw stuff around and miss dad badly.”
Nirali, now 26 years old, has made her peace with the cards that life has dealt her. She says that she doesn’t miss her father as much now but still misses the concept of having a ‘father’ in the family. When she observes other families having a great time and listens to friends speaking about their fathers, she too longs for a father figure. She feels that maybe the presence of a father in the family would make it more complete and fill the home with more laughter.
She has come to see her mother with renewed respect and admiration. She admits that her mother is an inspiring figure in her life. Having raised 3 kids after divorce along with a full-time job is no easy feat. And her mother did all that with great love and compassion. She feels that the hardships her mother faced are nothing compared to the occasional loneliness she feels. “I want to make her proud. My singular focus is to play for India,” says Nirali.
Nirali accepts that her hardships have led to the greatest learnings in her life. “Now I can handle the worst things with a smile”, she says. Nirali says she sees kids of her age unable to cope up with life’s minor challenges. But she feels the situation in her life has given her tremendous resilience.
It’s most certainly not easy being raised by a single parent. Not for the child and neither for the parent. But instances of Chintan and Nirali go on to portray that it’s embedded in the human spirit to rise above any situation and emerge stronger, more positive and more humane. All we need to do is: Choose that path.