Parents teacher week can officially be labelled as the event of the year! This year was going to be the same old thing. I was all set to go to my daughter’s parent teacher’s and later sit for hours among the “popular mums” clique and regret my life choices. And so it started, me dreading the day, waiting for it to get over. While I was standing in line with my daughter to talk to her calculus teacher, a conversation caught my attention and I couldn't help but eavesdrop. From what I could make out, his name was Madhav and he was a single father who had recently gone through a bitter divorce and was raising a daughter who as he called it was going through the “rebel teen phase”. Being a single mother myself, his plot hit close to home and I decided to ditch the dreaded clique and talk to him instead.
What he told me next truly brought tears to my eyes and I had a new found respect for him. My ride back home was a long one, and I couldn't help but reflect upon what Madhav had told me.
Raising children is not easy, even for the most seasoned parent and from what I had heard, raising a daughter can be particularly daunting especially for a single father as you have to navigate all the social situations, complex feelings, and developmental changes that your daughter experiences throughout her youth- without any firsthand understanding of some of what she's going through and unlike parents with partners, Madhav had to white-knuckle through it alone, often feeling like he was barely holding it together flying solo.
Apart from all the tasks at hand, the divorce in itself comes in like a wrecking ball and especially if it’s an abusive arrangement, the results can be extremely detrimental for the kids causing emotional trauma, and like Madhav said “It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing, but I knew I never wanted my kids to grow up in a disruptive household”.
Madhav isn’t alone. Parents (of any marital status) in the United States already have one of the highest rates across the world of parental burnout — intense exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of ineffectiveness from parenting, and single parents are under the greatest strain.
But as tough as it sounds, being a parent is the most rewarding thing in the world, I for one can definitely vouch for it, and despite everything Madhav has been through, there was a look of accomplishment and pride on his face like he’s getting the hang of it and doing it right. Knowing it’s all up to you can also be profound, and often empowering. And that’s how it usually is, it’s not about the future because that for sure is certain but it’s rather about the daily effort you put in and the small victories.
So here’s to all the Madhav’s out there who are doing a great job and are setting solid examples for everyone out there.