The issue I'm tackling today is perhaps one that I have no right to discuss- those closest to me will probably vouch for my lack of this quality. However. At the risk of raised eyebrows, scornful Hah!s and hushed muttering from my nearest and dearest, I'm still going ahead to discuss something that I find is close to my heart.
An issue that startles most of us, and something that, coming from a reasonably conservative family, I find shocks most people, is that of unwed mothers. At the outset, let me issue a couple of disclaimers. One- I'm a conservative liberal. Figure that out for yourselves. Two- I believe in speaking my mind. That should be pretty clear. Getting back. What is it about unwed mothers that makes them such outcasts? The world talks of opening up, globalising and the spirit of moving with the times. The very same world, where I live anyway, emits startled Gasps, tut-tuts dispprovingly and looks upon an unmarried but pregnant girl with disgust and prefers to get as far away from her as is humanly possible.
I'm not asking every woman to get pregnant before marriage. The last thing I would do is encourage risky pre-marital relationships. And, in all honesty, I doubt if I will ever find myself in the shoes of an unwed mother. All I want to say is- is one not entitled to one's choice? If I, as a young woman of twenty, choose to have a child, select the father of my child, donot see the necessity to marry, prefer to remain single and want to go ahead with my life, can I not be left in peace? After all, my life is mine. I don't ask you to play a father figure to my child, nor do I depend upon you, a total stranger, for maintaining my child or myself. What right then do you, as an individual who has little or nothing to do with me, have to criticise me?
A single parent often has to cope with circumstances that would leave another respectably married one baffled. Any parent will tell you how difficult managing a child can be, even with another parent's support. Try taking care of a one year old alone for a day, and you will know. The first hour seems like a honeymoon- a smiling, mostly toothless child can delight a warm heart, and how! And then, as the hours go by, irritation sets in, the child wriggles, squirms restlessly, demands food and water every now and then, pees with the regularity of a water pipe, falls down a million times, bursting into tears each time and as you frantically try to appease it, screams even louder. Wearying is not the word- and all this, all twenty four hours of each day- without a partner, having to cook, clean and carry out all the million other duties every woman and mother has. To play both father and mother to a child is a most difficult task. The poor single mother has enough to worry about, without the added worry of a stranger's contemptuous looks or stray remarks cruelly wounding her.
Acceptance is that rarest of qualities- it comes only with maturity and many a time, has nothing to do with age or background. It is the ability to understand that another's viewpoint may be different from your own- what may seem unacceptable to you may, to another, be the only way of life.
I may not be a single mother at any point in my life, but this I know- if my child to choose to be one, she will have my support-; it may be a difficult, even controversial choice, but she is entitled to her own choice.