It isn’t being a single parent and most who are parents do realize this fact in life. It isn’t easier to talk about it maturely without disrespecting anyone involved. Baring her soul, Kavitha shares with Mums and Stories, “We, in India, are made to believe that marriages are for keeps, and to come out of this sacrosanct arrangement is nothing less than sin. However, not every marriage is worth the sacrifices, tears, the mental agony and distress that either one or both of the couples go through.
Throughout the years that I spent in this marriage- I was unable to take up a job since my ex-husband was in a transferable job and our postings were in remote jungles most of the time. I had not completed my Masters and these were factors that had worked against me. There were times when I did not have money to buy a pair of ordinary slippers!
Today I am a registered Dietitian and clinical nutritionist with over 15 years of experience in hospital settings. In 2011, I founded my own venture called Cherrie Bytes, with the intention of bringing out “nutrition kits” that featured foods with no artificial flavours, ingredients or preservatives whatsoever. These kits were designed to fit into a healthy weight loss program, diabetes and cholesterol management.
Recently, the concept and the business was merged with Maiya’s Foods and Beverages, and now I am helping them design and develop the health range of products both in the ready to eat (RTE) category and restaurant menus.
I am also a single parent for my 19-year-old son who is pursuing his Mechanical Engineering degree.
Financial support was a matter of contention, with my dad bailing me out many times in times of distress (that included my son’s nursery admission fees to hospital expenses when I had a miscarriage).
A point was reached when I could no longer put up with being financially dependent for day to day existence and for my son’s education. Making the decision to move back to Bangalore was tough, but there were not too many feasible options back then.
I worked long hours and did overtime in the hospital, besides signing up for the long-held dream of masters in clinical dietetics. Of course, my parents provided the moral support and were the much-needed anchors for me and my son. My mother took a long, long time to come to terms with the separation but I guess it is tough on those who have been brought up in a conservative, orthodox society. She believed I did not put in enough efforts to save the marriage, but my dad has been firm in his belief that this was one marriage that was not worth the tears and fears.
After a long struggle that involved deciding between making the marriage work and keeping mental sanity, the latter took prominence.
Being a single parent is not easy in India, with many un-asked questions and judgements (from family and friends alike) pointed towards you. Over time, I have just learnt to ignore these and I guess I developed a thick hide in the process.
I would credit my son for being the most balanced support I have ever had. He is still my go-to person for anything that bothers me, and he never fails to come up with the most amazing, simple insights into dealing with them. In fact, he manages both me and his dad with a maturity that is beyond his years. I guess the best part of a difficult journey is that it teaches survival skills and even brings to the forefront our basic survival instincts.
My son is in touch with his dad. He visits him whenever he can and his dad comes over during holidays etc. I do think single parents need to talk to children about what exactly happened so they do not hear wrong things from others. But it is also important to give some time after the divorce or separation to get some perspective on the events. Many times single parents make themselves hero of the story and the other parent who is not able to defend himself or herself.
Talking on my growth I would say, from an insecure person who could cry at the drop of a hat, to an individual who is game for any challenge that life might throw from time to time, I believe my internal journey has been a learning experience..”
On parents talking about separation or divorce to children in marriages, Kavitha shares, “The age of the child matters in such situations. I told my son the entire story only when he reached 15. Until then he knew we had divorced and not going to be together. What hurts me most (still) is that the divorce was very painful for my son. It did disturb him and there were a lot of tantrums, mood swings and many other things going on until he reached his tenth grade. A lot of counselling and patience was required to handle all of these. But now, I believe all three of us are handling things in a better way. (me, my son and his dad). Maturity is required on both sides to give the correct explanation.
I would say this to all single mums out there; Stay strong and avoid painting morbid pictures of your failed marriage to your children however hard it might have been for you. Also, whatever did not work in the marriage, the child still needs his or her dad, and that support (unless in extreme cases where dads are criminals or in prison etc) and do remember the parent is invaluable to the child. Try and create a supportive atmosphere for children, and to this end, both parents need to be committed.
There was a point when my son used to say he will never get married because marriages do not work. But now I see a lot of maturity in him and he is willing to give relationships a try. He understands more now and I’m sure with time, there will be more opportunities to learn and grow.
I would like to end by saying, Life is a gift, and there is so much to do, see and achieve that there is hardly any time to waste in regrets, looking back and count the negatives. Live the adventure, every minute.”