Mom Is The New Dad
"Papa can I have this?" my 13-year-old pestered, holding up a useless trinket, that I was pretty sure would go into the trash bin the next day, and reluctantly, I lifted my head from the non-stick pan that I was examining, to catch the store keeper's dumbstruck expression.
I chose to ignore it.
"No, you may not," I replied, but my daughter dug her heels in. "Why not, Papa? I've been mooning over something like this?" she said.
By this time, the store keeper was genuinely puzzled. He looked around to spot the missing Dad, couldn't find anyone and helplessly looked in my direction.
Empathizing a little, I revealed our "little secret."
"You see, when she expects me to play the role of a provider, she addresses me as Papa. But when she is looking for a nurturer, she calls me Mama."
Very stereotypical, and sexist, he must have thought but he smiled.
Actually, I get into this game with my daughter for another reason too.
I know we all have missing elements in the jigsaw puzzle called LIFE, but that doesn't mean we stop missing those elements. I know, when my daughter returns from a friend's house, she acutely misses a father figure in her life. Simple things like tasting the word 'Papa' roll off her tongue is missed, so one day, we happen to invent this game, and now, we both enjoy the perplexed expressions around us.
However, sometimes, it's not so funny or easy.
When she was smaller, she, one day wanted to know why we are not a regular family. She has a Mama and a Nanu (My Dad) but not a father or a sibling to play with.
My eyes fell on the fruit basket on the table and picking up one, I asked her, "What do you see?"
"An apple, of course!" she replied, irritated at the dumb line of questioning.
"And this?" I picked another.
"Another apple, what are you driving at?" she screwed up her nose.
"Okay, so both are apples. But do you spot any difference between the two apples?" I quizzed
"This one is more rounded; this one more Red.....so WHAT?"
"Just that we are also a family, but like these two apples, we are a different sort of a family. Nature intended us all to be different."
These days, we see so many single Moms and single Dads, maternal grandparents staying with their daughters' family etc., that the fruit analogy has begun to make sense. Even in a society that swears by the sanctity of the institution of marriage, there are families that have begun to understand that if you happen to make a wrong choice once, you don't have to live with the consequences, all your life.
Children, undoubtedly, suffer, but if you give them the same right to make their choices in lives, live with the consequences or move on, and yet not be always bitter, life can turn out to be bitter-sweet pill, it is for everyone.
What do you say?
By Radhika Sachdev
This article was originally published --> here