“Taking care of kids is woman’s responsibility! Agar Maa dhyaan nahin rakhegi toh kaun rakhega! (Translation: If mother won’t take care of the kids, then who will?)”, my husband shamelessly tells me as I tell him how I am taking care of kids single-handedly and it is cumbersome!
When we hear the word – ‘Single mother’, we instantly think of a mom, who is without a male partner or a husband. A mother who is alone on the journey of parenthood. Someone who doesn’t have the physical & emotional support of her partner in the journey of motherhood.
But, then can a married woman be a single mother too? I’m a married woman and still feel that I am a single mother! And, I am not the only married single mother. There is a large number of ‘married’ women, who are forced to raise a child almost on their own.
Before you read any further, just a disclaimer: We are not talking about couples that are in long-distance marriage or husbands who are in a traveling job. We do understand that at times circumstances could be really difficult.
Rather, we are talking about men who refuse to take care of their kids. They have a regressive belief that a man’s job is to make money, whereas a woman’s job is to take care of the house, family, and kids. Even if she is a working woman, she has to prioritize family over her work!
I am one such unfortunate mother. Since my son was born, I had no one to rely on to take care of my child. From taking my son for vaccinations and regular medical check-ups, I have being doing it all on my own. The reason – my husband refuses to take up the responsibility for my son. Either he is busy at work or busy at being a good son himself.
He is so dedicated to his parents that he refuses to see how his son and wife need him too.
Even, when I asked him to accompany me on a trip to my mother’s place because Ritwik was just 11-months old, he refused. He said:
“Who will take care of mummy and papa here? And, what will I do at your parent’s place?”
“But Ritwik is just a year old. How will I manage him throughout the flight? It will be his first flight.”, I retaliated knowing that my request was falling on deaf ears!
“Then who told you to go? Stay at home and ask your parents and brothers to come and meet Ritwik!”
“You know Papa isn’t feeling well. He and mummy can’t travel. I want them to meet Ritwik.”
“I don’t know, but I won’t leave my parents alone!”
I traveled with my eleven-months old son alone. This incident was just a realization of how lonely my motherhood journey will look like.
From running door to door for my son’s school admission, to dropping him at his school for the first time, to attending his preschool graduation – I have done everything alone. In the last 7 years, my husband has never attended a single PT meeting. I have attended most of my son’s annual day and sports day alone. Every time, my son asked my husband to attend – he would say “Daddy has to go to work! Mummy will take a half-day and come!”
I wonder if it ever occurred to my husband that even I was managing an equally stressful job along with parenting. How could he use it as an excuse to rescue himself from all parental responsibilities?
It is heartbreaking how for my son’s studies, he is always clueless. He has no idea how good or bad his son is doing in school. He never cared about asking him if he needs any help with any subject! He never cared about asking him what his hobbies are or which extracurriculars he loves.
Realizing how my husband was always absent from his parenthood duties, I had no other choice but to step up. For my son, I had to make sure that I am his father and mother too! I took a salary cut and switched to a less stressful job so that my kid doesn’t have to bear the brunt of a careless and irresponsible father.
Sometimes, the days are really tough. But, then I tell myself that I would make sure that my son doesn’t become like his irresponsible father. I will make sure he understands his duties towards his life partner and his kids. I know I am not the only one who is working really hard to raise kids single-handedly. Like me, there are many married single moms, who are alone on this journey of parenthood.
Sadly, even our society believes that the core responsibility of parenthood lies on the mother! We are expected to be superwomen – who take care of home, kids, and career aspirations as well!
To all the married single mothers out there: I feel your pain! It’s heartbreaking how you are carrying so much burden on your own without any complaint. My heart goes out to you! Please speak up and let your partner knows that he has to step up! He can’t just outsource the parenting responsibilities to you. Your kids’ development is as much his responsibility as it is yours!
Dear Indian Men, Parenting is a joint responsibility! Don’t deprive your kid of a father just because you have been raised with an idea that kids are only the mother’s responsibility. Your parents need you, but so do your kids and wife! Like your wife can be a daughter and a mother, you can too!