Solo Support System

A wise person once said, “Any woman can be a mother, but it takes a badass mom to be a dad too,” and we agree with that sentiment one hundred per cent.

It’s important to have both a mother and father’s love, compassion, and care to raise a child. Having parents is a blessing that often is taken for granted. And with the current separation rate, to come from home where both – your mom and dad are happy together is rare and hence a bigger blessing.

The roles both parents play is unmatched – a mother is the most significant in a child’s life, and the anchoring a father provides is equally important. But not every child is fortunate to have it. Some probably aren’t blessed enough – or maybe blessed more than usual. Having your dad around in your growing up years is crucial, but for those who didn’t – they had mothers who stepped into the shoes of fathers, filling in with a double shift. Mothers who wake up early to pack tiffins, work long hours, cook meals, and help with academics – in short, supermoms who’ve fought the world and their odds to raise their children.

Today, while everyone’s busy wishing their dads, we thought we’d honour fierce ladies who also played the roles of fathers because… they just had to! Read ahead to know more about these women and their overwhelming stories.  – Anahita

Proving every word right of the quote “Strong women raise strong daughters” are Malini Alexander and her daughter Mitali Sanghi. Extremely well-known in the social circuit, she best describes herself not just a mother but also a nurturer. In conversation with this gorgeous mother-daughter duo, we learnt more about them.  

Malini:

How’s the journey been?
Now looking back, the journey has been nothing but beautiful. Yes, at times it was a little daunting, but I cannot take away from the fact that it's been gratifying, too.

How do you maintain the perfect balance?
It comes naturally to me. I had my own business, and so I was able to shuffle my timings. I tried to be around Mitali as must as I could and work when she was away at school.

What were some empowering experiences that shaped you as a parent?
Every day was a new experience for me; if I felt that my parenting was flawed, then I changed it to the better. No parent is born with a manual – one needs to understand, accept, and figure it out themselves. Doing exactly that, I learnt parenting on the job.

The journey mustn’t have been easy – what kept you going?
My love for Mitali kept me going. There is a special bond between a child and parent. I wanted to give her the best and didn’t mind sacrificing my wants over her’s.

Any particular moment you felt like it was worth it?
Every moment of being a mother was worth it. Especially now, when I see her blossomed into this beautiful, mature, kind, hardworking, and sensible woman… my heart fills with pride.

Mitali, Owner at The Pilates Studio and Salt World, Hyderabad:

Do you think you’d ever be as strong as your mother?
I try to be. It’s tough, but she inspires me to be my strongest self in any situation.

If you were In her shoes, what would you have done​ differently?
I’d talk less on the phone (laughs). No, jokes apart, there is nothing I’d change!

What is that one thing you admire the most about her?
Her big heart and how she’s so creative and enterprising.

What is the most important thing she has taught you?
Life doesn’t come easy. Hard work pays off.

What is that one trait you’ve acquired from her?
Strength.

Najmunisa Patel, with the constant support of her elder sister, has dedicated her life to bring up her three lovely kids Hebah, Hannah, and Hadil. In conversation with her, we found out more about her story and how she successfully raised her daughters.  

Najmunisa:

How do you maintain the perfect balance?
It is never easy to make all ends meet, but one needs to find a balance to ensure a happy and healthy atmosphere. In my case, with three daughters and now a grandson, I try and prioritise them equally. It’s crucial to give them a proper support, recognise, and meet their needs to the greatest extent as possible.

Empowering experiences that shaped you as a parent?
Being a parent is daunting and pleasant at the same time. And between the plethora of duties, it is difficult to say what has particularly been empowering. I think nothing feels better than seeing them become self-sufficient and successful women.

The journey mustn’t have been easy - what kept you going?
The journey’s never smooth or easy for anyone, but with patience, understanding, hope, belief, and the right attitude ultimately keeps one going.

Any particular moment when you felt like it was worth it?
Honestly, there’s no such moment that makes it worth it. Successes or failure doesn’t define us; how we adapt to it ahead is what makes it worthwhile.

Hebah Patel, Actress:

Do you think you’d ever be as strong as your mother?
This would be a rhetorical question. I don’t think I could ever be half as strong, even if I tried.

Which single quality of your mother do you admire the most?
Her attitude of always being hopeful, her patience, and her belief that everything will work out. The fact that nothing is the end.

What is the most important thing she has taught you?
To be nice to people even when they aren’t nice to you.Who you are as a person should be a reflection of what you are and what others bring out in you.

What is that one trait you’ve acquired from her?
Maybe pointlessly lazing for hours on end (smiles).

An entrepreneur, fitness professional, and a model – Abhimanika Yadav has had her share of difficulties, but it was her son Tavish who made the journey worth it.  

Abhimanika:

What were some empowering experiences that shaped you as a parent?
Kids find happiness in the smallest things, and I learnt that from seeing my child. I remember an incident that occurred a few years ago. When I ended my marriage and was figuring out my life and career, Tavish and I happened to come across an Ice Cream stall. Tavish, like any kid, got excited and asked me to buy him an Ice Cream. Little did he know that I only had 10 rupees left after paying all the bills. So I whispered in his ears and told him. Being the wise kid he’s always been, he said, “It’s ok, amma, let’s buy a small one and share.” That’s when I learnt that we don’t need to be rich to make our children happy; we need to be available and work with what we’ve got.

Where do you derive your strength from?
From the moment he was born, my son took ownership of my heart. From then on, his happiness and well-being became my strength. I’ve always been quite open to him regarding everything that goes on in my life, and he’s always been the wisest and most understanding. He is full of positivity, and he sometimes even reverses the role and takes on being a parent to remind me of the things that I need to do.

Any particular moment when you felt like it was worth it?
Every moment that a loving parent has with his/her child is always worth more than anything ever in the whole world. Several moments come to my mind when I ask myself whether it was all worth it. Things like him making tea for me when I’m feeling low, checking whether I’ve had my food on time, etc.

Tavish, Student – Class 7:

What makes your mom happy?
Mom and I are like friends, but it quickly changes when it comes to work. It is not that hard to make her happy. Just doing what she says and not being late is enough.

What are your similarities?
We both love dancing, playing games, hogging on chocolates and ice creams.

What is the most important thing she has taught you?
Mom’s always emphasised two things – being nice to people around you and being truthful to everyone, including yourself.

Stylist Deepa Chander, who’s worked on more than 100 film projects and won a Nandi Award for Arundati has smiled through every hardship of her life. Describing her journey as a rollercoaster ride, she’s a mother of two lovely ladies – Anindita and Drishika. A master of many trades, Deepa is also a psychic energy reader, artist, and is in the process of writing her first book. Here’s more about her parenting journey.

Deepa:

How do you maintain the perfect balance?
I had to be both a mother and a father. I understood that my children needed a friend more than a parent. I wanted to give them the freedom to tell me anything without fear, even if it wasn’t okay.

What were some empowering experiences that shaped you as a parent?
Finding pleasure in small things and behaving goofy to make my girls laugh out loud while forgetting their worries. The day they named our home “Happiness”, I just knew that babies finally felt safe.

The journey mustn’t have been easy – what kept you going?
It has been a challenging and scary journey. But the unconditional trust in my daughters’ innocent eyes gave me the courage.

Where do you derive your strength from?
People say I am strong. Honestly, I do not feel so. I just got the strength from knowing that my girls deserved a good life. They didn’t ask to come into this world. I had to nurture them lovingly at any cost. It was their right. And it is what I chose to do.

Anindita S Chander, Lawyer and Partner at Allied Law Offices; and Drishika Chander, Actress Do you think you’d ever be as strong as your mum?
Honestly, if we could be half as strong as our mum, it would be an accomplishment. She sets the bar high in this category. She is one in a million.

What is that one thing you admire the most about her?
Her pure heart! Her selflessness is the most beautiful characteristic about her as she has only encouraged us to see the good in people no matter what. She is one person who is always there for anyone in need. She is a wonderful human being.

What is the most important thing she has taught you?
Be a good human being, no matter what. She has also always told us not to be judgmental, as you don’t know where someone is coming from or what they are going through.

What is that one trait you’ve acquired from her?
That nothing should bring your spirits down. She is the most fun-loving person and the life of a party! Even our friends adore her.

Fashion designer Samta Arora has fought her way through and came out strong despite all that life’s thrown at her. Her son Nakul was just four and a half years old when in an unfortunate accident her husband got entirely paralysed, leaving her with his sole responsibility. Ever since, she has been playing a dual role, handling everything at not just the emotional front but also the financial.  

Samta:

How’s the journey been?
The journey has not been easy. We plan life in a particular manner, but when an odd ball is tossed at you, one needs to change their game plan. The best learning of life is to keep moving.

How do you maintain the perfect balance?
For the areas and things that are important to you, you automatically tend to find a fine balance.

What were some empowering experiences that shaped you as a parent?

When you know you are responsible for the upbringing of your child, you want to give them the best of you. You desire to be the best mother. And as a single parent when you wear the hat of a father as well, you become a kick-ass mother who works hard to be a successful businesswoman, a friend to your child, and his role model.

Any particular moment when you felt like it was worth it?
Loads! Now, when I turn back and look at how far I’ve come. Every single thing seems worth it. The bond we share is priceless; especially when he senses that I’m upset and comes to cheer me up. It makes me feel proud of the boy I am raising.

Nakul Dhir, Student – Class 9:

What makes your mom happy?
When I study and be at my best behaviour.

What makes her angry?
When I bend the rules and play on my PS4 for long, she looks a little red!

How are you and your mom the same?
We both love food, and our faces and smile are ditto.

What is the most important thing she has taught you?
To be responsible, independent, and respect girls.

Growing and learning with her daughters is fashion consultant, yoga instructor and animal activist Taruna Singh. Forever grateful and graceful, here’s more about this mother of two – Disha and Sonam.

Taruna:

What were some empowering experiences that shaped you as a parent?
There is an adage “Children learn what they live”. My parents have been my driving force from whom I derived confidence, steadiness, compassion, and the never give up attitude. So grateful to them for empowering me and helping me pass those values as a parent myself.

The journey mustn’t have been easy - what kept you going?
It is all about how you perceive every situation. Acceptance and embracing every hurdle with the thought “this too shall pass”, keeps me going.

Where do you derive your strength from?
God’s protection, family’s love, clear heart with a lot of conviction – all this gives me a lot of strength. I have also been blessed with a great bunch of friends who have stood by me in every situation. I am so grateful for everything!  

Disha, Businesswoman:

Do you think you’d ever be as strong as your mother?
Mom has been an epitome of strength in so many ways. She chose very unconventional methods at a time when things were supposed to be a “certain” way. Being a mother has made me realise how she got through things everyday and made good choices for us, which we may not have understood then. Thanks, mum. I hope I can be as strong and resilient as you.

What is the most important thing your mom has taught you?
She’s taught us to be ourselves through all our victories and mistakes. She let us fall and let us learn, even if it was hard for her to watch us not succeed, she gave us the space to learn.

Sonam, Co-founder at The Pet Cafe and Freelance Event Planner:

Do you think you’d ever be as strong as your mother?
Honestly, I don’t know. When I hear her hardships in life and things she has been through, I cannot imagine dealing with it the way she did. Then I imagine the part where she dealt with two teenage daughters alone! How do you do that?! Oh god, I look at teenagers, all the hormonal changes they go through, the fights siblings have during those growing years, and all of that and I am like, wait a minute, mom managed all of that! How? I would never be able to get through it by myself.

Which single quality of your mother do you admire the most?
Her kindness and compassion towards other beings. For example: when she was running a boutique, all her tailors were Muslims so that she would fast along with them every Ramzan and end of the day, she would break her fast with them. She would do this to keep them motivated and get going.

For Shailaja Gandham, it’s always been about finding a mid-path to parenting and working. An Early Childhood Educator and Counsellor, she struck home and work-life balance, allowing her to manage both the things she loves. Mother of two adults Sandeep and Malvika, here’s more about her.  

Shailaja:

How’s the journey been?
It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride. Lucky for me, I have strong family support and two lovely children who made it seem easy. They’ve always stood by me, unconditionally.

How do you maintain the perfect balance?
There’s no sure-shot formula to this. I think taking it by the day helps. But I do believe communication is the key; you have to be able to give that space to your kids, to come and talk to you. It has, at some level, help me strike that balance.

The journey mustn’t have been easy - what kept you going?
As humans, we all have our days. And most parents would agree when I say this when you watch your kids grow, watch them achieve what they always wanted to and when they make you a part of everything they do is more than enough to keep you going.

Where do you derive your strength from?
From my parents, I think they’ve helped me become a good parent. They’ve been my biggest strength and support system. On good or bad days, they were there to keep me going.

Any particular moment when you felt like it was worth it?
It’s those little moments that give me a lot of happiness, to watch my children be respectful, work hard, and to excel in their respective careers makes me feel it was all worth it.

Malvika Rao, Co-Founder Blueowl Design Studio:

Do you think you’d ever be as strong as your mother?
No, I don’t think I can be as strong as she is. But I’ve grown up watching my mom conduct herself beautifully. So I do hope I’m half as strong as she has been and continues to be.

What is that one thing you admire the most about her?
My mom’s selfless. You need her and she will be there, without even asking. Also she’s the most thoughtful person in our family, I’ve always admired this about her.

What is the most important thing your mom has taught you?
To be independent. That’s the best thing my mom has taught my brother and me. It has definitely made us confident individuals.

She’s strong, hardworking, dedicated and lives each day to its fullest. Fitness Coach and Entrepreneur, Deepti Akki is the mother of a six-year-old boy. Here’s more about Deepti and her son Arihan…

Deepti:

How’s the journey been?
So far, so good! Mixed emotions, beautiful and full of life. Only truth standing in front of me has always been that ‘time flies ‘. I wish I had more of it. But that said, I try my best to enjoy the present moment.

How do you maintain the perfect balance?
Is there something called perfect balance? Please send me some! (Smiles) The perfect word for me would be ‘work-life integration’. I don’t stress over everything every day. Being aware is being focused on. On some days, work needs attention, and on other days Arihan. I do my best and try to spend at least an hour a day with myself to reflect upon my life.

What were some empowering experiences that shaped you as a parent?
Countless because every single day is a beautiful experience that reminds a parent to recognise the joy of being one and Arihan has truly motivated me to be what I am today. Every time I spend time with him, I learn a lot. I always thought I was short-tempered and never saw myself as somebody who can manage work and home, and still have patience with him no matter how exhausted I was, to see him smile and read a story every night. My battles and challenges are, in turn shaping him into a stronger individual. Seeing that empowers me because that’s what children need to face this world today.

Any particular moment when you felt like it was worth it?
Yes, Arihan is very compassionate to everybody around him and that gives me a sense of achievement. He also follows his routine and timetable without any excuses. Especially in this lockdown, I feel all the hard work has paid off, and it’s worth it.

Arihan, Student – Class 1:

What makes your mom happy?
Being smiled at and giving a hug.

What makes her angry?
When I don’t put my things back in place.

What is the most important thing she has taught you?
Probably to behave myself and sharing.