#Motherhood

What Makes Neena Gupta A Poster Child For Modern Motherhood?

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Of Neena Gupta motherhood and the need to be unapologetic: She became a single mom in an era when people couldn’t even think of a mother fending for herself and her baby sans a man in her life.

As actor Neena Gupta recalled in an interview last year, one of her friends offered to marry her, just so that her daughter could a “name”. But Gupta declined. “I can earn and look after my daughter,” was her response. And look after she did. But it is not as if Neena Gupta is the only single celebrity mom that we know of. So why does her journey of motherhood spark admiration to such an extent?

Single or not, modern motherhood has been both kind and brutal to women in equal measures. Kind because we have relatively easy access to information and guidance that comes in handy as a mom. Plus most women today outrightly reject the pedestal on which moms are put by our society. She must be sacrificial, she must be ready to put her career on the backburner for the sake of her child. No thanks, we will raise our kids and lead our lives on our terms, and we will not put ourselves last.

The sad thing though is that motherhood is still shrouded in numerous age-old stigmas that moms have long rejected. Our society still adheres to a rigid image of an ideal mom. She must be married, she must know how to strike a perfect balance between motherhood, career and other household duties. She must also never complain about the hardships she had faced while raising her child. Any woman who doesn’t fit this mould is an outcast.

Gupta, however, challenged all these stigmas decades ago, social commentary on her marital and motherhood status be damned. She had her daughter, Masaba Gupta, out of wedlock with cricketer Vivian Richards in the 80s. Gupta’s father took over caring for her daughter so that she could earn and put food on the table for her family. And the veteran actor refuses to play down how difficult society made it for her to be a single mom, but she has also owned this struggle.

“I don’t know what I would have done without Masaba. She has nobody else other than me. I have enjoyed her despite going through a lot of hardships. I have not lived a normal woman’s life, as I had to work and spend time with her, but it has given me so much solid satisfaction that it was all worth it,” she said in an interview. Check more here. 

Perhaps it is this mixture of candour, resilience and persistence that makes us admire Neena Gupta as a mother. She says it how it is. And while many of us may not have endured the hardships that she had to, we can feel her struggle. We can grasp the hard work that she had to put in, to raise a child on her own.

We are far from being a society that is accepting of pre-marital sex and pregnancies. That sees the absence of a man from a woman’s life as a great tragedy, but never a choice. It is women like Gupta who teach us to focus our energies to the taks at hand, rather than focus on “log kya kahenge“.

I think the kind of moms that we become is an extension of our personalities, our mindset and our struggles. We take who we are, how the world has treated us, and how that has impacted us and put that into raising our children. Going by that, we can say that Neena Gupta is a mother worth admiring because she is a woman who commands just that.

The views expressed are the author’s own.