Meet Chandramouli, a dad who has been a single parent for a while shares in a candid confession of treading the journey as a parent post his divorce. Our second story for our recent column – Dads and Stories.
“It is difficult to be a single parent in some ways or the other. I do not think the sex of the parent matters. I have two children; elder a son and younger one-a daughter. There were two sets of needs. And sometimes I did find myself inadequate like for example making my daughter disciplined with her plaiting of hair (I could not do it well enough) or sorting out a few issues in her growing up years.
My son was quieter, less expressive and was perhaps more affected. It took me a lot longer to get him into accepting the divorce or the separation phase and bring him to see the happier side of life
However irrespective of the gender I do feel single parenting has its sets of challenges like roles which you can switch into or lack of the different perspective which the other parent brings in. My kids to a great extent have grown up with my perspective only, so when they fully get into the world they are bound to be more confused because they are not used to multiple perspectives.
My kids are now 17 and 14 plus, when we separated they were 9 and 6 and thus extremely vulnerable. At that time they did need involvement physically and psychologically. They needed me in school, in dropping them at kid’s birthdays, for their piano and violin exams, and to be with them during the evenings to be part of their lives as much as possible. They were also with me in all the social functions irrespective of the fact they did not like going there and eating the food there. But it was one of a kind of a team – plus we had a dog, who made it an extended team. I did not go to malls or shopping, but we went out for coffee, eat out etc. We did not take too many holidays, but we did take some holidays which included my friend groups who they were comfortable with.
I did not have relatives to take care of my kids, but my friends and a very reliable set of maid and driver made my extended family. Perhaps the kids did feel the lack of ‘mamma’ but I hope never the loss of fun times and being social to the extent possible. Being a single dad or a parent puts you in various awkward positions- from attending all school functions, taking them for birthdays, coordinating with mums for birthdays and night stays of kids celebrating their birthdays and any such social functions and school functions which involves them. I took all of this as part of my life and enjoyed my journey through it.
In our society typically school functions, birthday functions etc. are more attended by mums than single fathers. I have being the odd man out in such occasions and have found it awkward to make conversations with other mums, especially when asked where is the ‘mom’? Also one doesn’t want to explain the status to people who are very nearly strangers to you.
I remember and even now find it difficult to don the mum’s role of buying clothes for my daughter and yet I accompany my daughter on such shopping expeditions and hair styling events. When she was small I had to explain to the hair stylist how her hair should be cut, and styled which was awkward and difficult for me. I found it difficult to choose the ethnic school dress which they should wear on special school days like children’s day etc.
The great thing is my kids never complained or never showed their embarrassment in such activities. They were always supportive of their ‘poor’ father, who did not do a great job in many such occasions. I have never heard them complain aloud in such situations, never for once stating ‘why is mom not around’ even though they must have felt on such occasions.and this makes it all worthwhile.
My best memories were of those weekends when they were small, and we used to always go out together, 4 of us, two kids, our dear dog and myself. We literally used to go together everywhere – and in coffee shops we would not enter if our dear pet was not allowed. All their child hood photos contain three of them, two kids and their pet cocker spaniel. The pet brought in a lot of stabilizing effect on the kids, and they learned to love another younger brother (the pet) as their equal. Those weekends which lasted at least 4 years were the fun times in their lives while growing up to be the grand teenagers they are today. We try and repeat it from time to time, but now they have become very busy with their lives of studies and other activities which envelope them.
One thing is that since I am a single father, we had not been invited into many social gatherings which comes in through a mother’s contacts. Women always has a more established circle of acquaintances in a housing society which brings in invitation to pujas, birthdays, some celebrations etc. where we have not being invited, because I have kept away from such social gatherings. This maybe considered as a mild discrimination, more due to my nature. I am extremely lucky that I have not heard any such incidents being recounted by the kids. They may have gone through it, but they have never recounted to me. Now my kids hate attending such events which may not be fully healthy in terms of their acceptance to social activities. But if they have been called children to divorced parents etc and hurt them directly I would never know, as they have never shared the same with me. It was by choice that I kept the kids with me. And their mother had accepted that, so my kids did not have to go through any legal unpleasantness
The best thing about being a dad is…the love and care and concern which I get from my kids. They have never made me feel alone, and have been willing to share their lives including minor details – good or bad. They are kind of my best friends !
Mums and stories wishes this super dad and the kids the very best in life.