If you’re a mother, you’ll certainly understand the time and patience required to raise a child. It takes a village they say. And “they” are not kidding.
And if you’re a single mother of one, or two, maybe more? That’s another set of challenges awaiting you.
When I became a single mom ten years ago, it was one of the most trying times of my life. Trying to make time for myself was impossible. There was no such thing.
My goal during the first couple of years was to just be there as a parent, to fulfill their needs and give my two girls the required attention they deserved. They were both young little ones (ages one and four) dealing with many different emotions and surely life’s changes. There was definitely challenging times.
Yet, thanks to my parents and sisters who provided much assistance and babysitting help, I consider myself quite fortunate. Not every single parent has family nearby who can help (so thanks mom and dad :-) ).
My Little Ones (2005)
However, the day was approaching when I’d need to branch away from my parents and start a whole new journey with my two girls.
Of course the fears would set in – how would I do it? What if we moved and I lost my job given the economy? Would we be okay? Is it even worth the risk?
When these questions would surface in my mind, I would think of my role model. A single mother of ten children. Yup, ten of them. :-o
That single mother also took care of me and my two sisters when her kids were all grown up while my parents worked throughout the week. ;-)
That single widowed mother spent many years living in a poor country in South America trying to raise her own family of ten, and with no help from willing family mind you.
New York City (1980)
That single mother never had an opportunity to go to school because she had to help raise even her own siblings (there were many of them). Married at the age of fifteen, she never learned how to read or write even though she really wanted to learn.
Her husband provided for their family and was responsible for their financial income. She was a stay at home mother who cooked, cleaned and took care of their children.
But then her husband passed away in his forties due to cancer. And she was devastated. What would she do?
I think back to the many stories both my mother and grandmother shared with me regarding those years in South America. It sounds like an imaginary story, you know… make believe. Just like fiction.
But the truth is – it really happened.
People endure difficult and trying times in their lives and you know what? They push themselves through it. They get through it. They muster up the courage and strength to move on doing what they have to do because they don’t really have a choice.
My sister, Maa and me
That single mother of ten children happens to be my beloved grandmother whom we all called Maa (a name commonly used in the Indian culture which means “mother”).
When my grandfather passed away, Maa was left to take care of her children. Their source of income was earned by selling crops from their garden or fish they’d catch from the sea every morning before my mom and her siblings would go to school.
They couldn’t afford much. Life in that country was difficult. But a better life was in store for their family years later.
Opportunities to move to Canada and the United States became possible for some of the children. My grandmother took a chance and sent my mother, who was seventeen years old, to stay with her older sister so she could have a better life.
Years later, after both of my parents met and got married, my grandmother was able to come to the United States. Upon her arrival, she stayed with us for years and helped raise me and my sisters.
There’s so much I can share about my grandmother, so many memories. The ice cream she would buy for us from the ice cream truck after school almost every hot summer day. Those orange creamsicles, banana creamsicles (she loved those) or the red white and blue bomb pops which were popular during those times.
The crackers (or as she would call them, biscuits) dipped in hot tea that she would prepare and enjoy with us every evening.
The music she would play using a pot with her hands (because we didn’t own a drum at the time) so we could all just laugh, dance and have a good time.
Her constant hugs and belly laughs, and her fun broken english when she’d speak and share stories with us about her childhood years, or her times as a mother in South America.
My (not so) little ones with Maa (2008)
Maa developed a mild case of Alzheimer’s during the last months of her life. She had a tough time remembering where she was, who her children were, etc. and constantly had to be reminded.
On December 18, 2009, she left her body in the three-dimensional world and joined God in the spiritual world.
Her memories remain alive in my life but more so, ever since I became a single mother ten years ago. Since then, I’ve grown to have even more respect for her. I often wondered about her history, her story, her past life. Fortunately I had the opportunity to briefly interview her on video about a year before she passed away.
A person can’t understand how difficult it can be to raise children, let alone raise children as a single mother – and how about ten? – unless they are able to empathize or envision walking a mile in that person’s shoes.
We come from a culture of poor judgments unfortunately. Many hold on to resentment, anger, pride, even make assumptions as we focus heavily on what we lack or didn’t receive from our parents or loved ones.
But we often forget that our parents – in this case our mother – have done the best they could, based on their own abilities and personal circumstances, and based on what they’ve learned from their own parents.
We learn by example. Naturally.
In a culture such as that in South America, think of the examples our own parents grew up with. What opportunities were they granted in order to improve their communication skills? What choices were they left with to make during those trying times?
What would you do if you were in a position similar to theirs?
Love puts us in a position to make some tough decisions in life. It’s all about Love.
And Love helps us to understand, if and when we are willing to open our hearts, that our mothers did the best they truly could from the bottom of their hearts.
Maa made some difficult decisions in her life. I cannot even fathom being in her shoes, let alone sending my young daughter to another country in hopes that she’ll be in a better place. I can only respect the woman she was, birthing ten kids naturally with no epidural (how does one even do that ten times – oh my goodness)?
We love you!
Today, I am honoring my beloved grandmother Maa. A strong woman. A woman of respect, loyalty and love.
A mother who played a role in my life.
A mother who had to deal with my hyperactive personality, always getting into mischief (as she would call it), climbing on top of the roof of our second story house (yup), or challenging her with thought-provoking questions (you can’t possibly be surprised – rebel? free spirit you say?).
A mother who is the mother of my mother, and the mother of my aunts and uncles. A mother who is also a grandmother and great-grandmother of many who love her and have fond memories of her.
Thank you for teaching us through your own life’s experiences Maa. We are all imperfect human beings doing our best, and you certainly did your best.
Your courage, dedication to your family, actions as a single mother, faith in God, and sacrifices to meet the needs of all of yours…
I smile because your soul is very much alive today.
You survived those challenges in that poor country. You got through them even though it wasn’t easy. And you managed to have your kids sent to a better place.
We know your spirit is thriving with peace, love and joy…
And we know you’re playing that dholak (Indian drum) sending wonderful beats to many ears. ;-)
Happy Mother’s Day! We love you Maa! <3