I am a family of me and my kid.
I had this incident wherein a woman, a single mother, a Doctorate working at a very reputed place gas-lighted us (me and my kid) by telling us a story of a mother – daughter duo who committed suicide since they had reached dangerous levels of freedom. My kid did not understand the meaning of suicide then. Thank God for that. She added that she got a kid via IVF and hence is a single mother & her kid does not come from a broken family. She is supported by her parents to take care of the baby & so her family is complete. As of today, I truly do not know who gave her the moral right to call my family as a broken family.
I was amazed & shocked at her audacity, but she came from a position of power and hence I could not immediately say anything to her. I did not or do not disrespect/ judge her for her IVF kid. I truly believe it’s the woman who needs to be able to take a decision on her body, bear a child or not, and in a way feasible, comfortable & possible for her. But calling my family as broken was not acceptable.
I had searched for-who are the great people raised by single moms & Barack Obama showed up as a result on google. That did give some peace to my mind.
Another related incident. I pay fees for my kid. The accountant there had a major problem with simply replacing the payer’s name as my name. I wanted it there since I pay the fees & could use the receipt for taxes. She reasoned that the software the school used could not intake the mother’s name. Coming from a software background, I tried to reason back that it must be a software cliche that you could simply change. I had walk to the Principal’s office to complain after which this was taken care of – because the Principal is a good & understanding female.
But these little incidents – on what is a family have always stayed.
Thought I will write on this concept – Family. What is a normal family.
We have seen this assignment given to us as a kid. Draw a family tree. A father, Mother, Children. Grandparents, relatives etc. This looked like a definition of the family, generalized by the society. And people literally give their lives for this perfect looking family. (whatsoever may be happening within). There used to be a concept of hum do humare do (we are a couple, let’s have 2 kids only). A campaign by Govt of India to gently ask people to have no more than 2 kids. I still remember the visual. The glass bottle, 2 tomatoes were added and the moment one more tomato was added, the tomatoes were crushed together. In that sense we are way more spaced out and doing great in here.
Then there are these questions about one’s family generally to be answered as a part of an introduction.
A few illustrations of the typical questions – where do your grandparents stay ? Oh, it is a nuclear family, not a joint family ? & another famous one, Oh, you both are girls (siblings), No brother ? As a kid it was difficult to fathom that this question was derogatory. Over the period of years, the questions have changed. A little bit. Oh, it is a nuclear family ? Is it a love marriage ? Inter-caste ? What is your caste (That has still not updated itself in the 21st century). Oh, Love cum arranged ? Oh, yeah that is the norm now-a days.
Then to now, where in my kid is asked, oh, Only you and your mom in the family ? Where is your father? Have you seen him? Does he come to see you ?
All and all, I truly want to ask – what is it that you will do out of your curiosity of asking ? of commenting ?
Here are some options you may consider –
1. Give a son for adoption to the family who does not have a son. (first clear your head on why a son)
2. Become a foster parent/ grandparent by helping out in a family without one.
3. Write a thesis on the great Indian Family system.
4. Also, think of redefining your question to, Oh, you have a single parent, I wonder how do they take care of everything alone ? / something more positive, so that the kid is exposed to feeling left out, of not of a ‘not normal’ family.
5. None of the above.
Rather you will actually be traumatizing the individual by asking those questions. & proving your worth and intelligence. Because there is no such thing as a normal family. Every single family is special.
Family in fact is a group of people who love each other & are hence together. Just as simple as that!
We may soon see same sex couple families in India. Why not just be open, welcome each family in our lives ?
Our family stands out. A single parent & the kid. Smiling happily, no pretense, just love.
Please. Control your inquisitiveness. Keep your judgement to yourself.