Ahead of the Mothers' Day SheThePeople.TV decided to meet some single mothers to know about their tremendous journeys. We kick start the series with Priya Kathuria’s story.
Priya Kathuria, single parent to a 21-year-old. She has been a single parent for 13 years now. Although married into a well to do family, she realised her husband’s psychological illness led to massive physical abuse. She was plunged into many court cases and even though she got her divorce after a 12-year long legal battle, she is yet to get financial relief of any kind.
For me, the society didn't turn out to be a big battle. I was with my parents and that protected me a lot from the reaction of the society. And I had friends, and even though I withdrew, my support system pushed me to be normal. -Priya
Where do you derive your strength from?
From my daughter Simran. As a mom, I was the best for her. She inspires me to do better.
Share a bit of your journey. What was the biggest struggle?
I was married into a well to do family, that had connections with significant people in society both in the financial and political world. This was an arranged marriage. My husband had some imbalances which were not apparent during the early years of my marriage. He refused to take treatment for his psychological issues. Anything could set him off and there was no controlling him. Taking on life's pressures was impossible for him. As a result, I went through physical and emotional abuse. He even became an alcoholic and that made things worse.
As my daughter grew older, he also started bothering her which just shook us up and that really got me thinking about a life separate from him. My only worry was how will I manage as a single parent from a financial point of view. But I had the support of my parents. Though, initially I didn't let them know about the extent of my issues but as my daughter grew up, she bonded with my mother and one day she confided in her. On one occasion it got so bad that my husband dragged me out of the house and publicly started hitting me. The entire neighbourhood got to know and they helped me, and that day I was forced to leave my marital home empty-handed with only my daughter and came back to my parents' home.
My first priority was to secure my daughter. So, I filed for custody, which I got after an eight-year long battle. I finally got her custody when she was 17.
How did you manage financially?
I am a designer from NIFT, so I decided to go back to it. Even though, I couldn't get down to set up my business but I went into a job. I went for an interview and got a job within 40 days of moving back with my parents. From there it was one step at a time. I am now a sourcing specialist working with a buying house, I have been here for 8 years.
How do you survive the society as a single parent?
For me, the society didn't turn out to be a big battle. I was with my parents and that protected me a lot from the reaction of the society. And I had friends, and even though I withdrew, my support system pushed me to be normal.
Being a single parent, how do you teach your child that gender roles are beyond social constructs?
It’s a struggle for any parent and they don’t get over quickly. I have counselled her from time to time. I encourage her to talk about it. My daughter has anxiety, given all that she had seen, so yes it's hard. Also having seen me go through so much, I think she already learnt a lot about being a woman earlier on.
How do you build emotional support systems?
People often react to you saying 'leave the situation' and 'get out' - it's easier said than done. Emotional security is far more important than financial security and that's what gave me the courage to leave my husband and embark on the journey of being a single parent. There are all those questions - 'why should I be a single parent' and 'why me, oh god' but living in the past is a bad idea. Move on and embrace the world.
Emotional security is far more important than financial security and that's what gave me the courage to leave my husband and embark on being a single parent. -Priya
Being a mother and father - what's the hardest part?
It is to not let your child see you cry. Make time for your family and children and share and derive strength from them.
Read other Stories in the #SheTheMom series here