Like any parent in this universe you want to give your children the sun, the moon and the stars. When my older daughter started dating a man at the age of 25, I was happy to see her happy, thinking she will date for a few years, figure out what she wants, find happiness, and feel safe and be excited about her future. All the while building her foundations to a rock-solid career. She was too young to be thinking of marriage anyway, right?
Imagine our surprise when the boy popped the question. He was 5 years older and was keen to settle down. So, though it was a mere 5 months, the marriage required a move to America. This was concerning to us as parents since both came from completely different socioeconomic backgrounds. There were blaring red flags everywhere, but we were blinded by her happiness as well as seeing one of our ‘responsibilities’ being fulfilled. Liberal or not, I guess it is an Indian parents’ dream. Point to ponder?
Within a month of the marriage the abuse started. First verbal, slowly chipping away at her self-confidence. This was heartbreaking, as it is the very first thing we as parents pour our energy into building – their confidence. Of course, the abuse progressed and I started seeing the signs. Missing home, crying easily, angry all the time. It will remain the biggest regret of my life, not having realized it earlier. Why didn’t I see it? Or did I choose to turn a blind eye because it was just easier?
It was very tricky for me to not influence her by disrupting her life for something she may have thought could be resolved. However, at the same time, how could I possibly tolerate the injustice? How does a parent do that? All these thoughts paralyzed me.
While my husband was livid when I confided in him, wanting to run to the authorities, confront his parents and of course run and get our child back, we decided we were first going to make sure she is safe. I was plagued by the choice of bringing my daughter safely into my arms and holding her tight, or giving her the opportunity to discover her strengths and empower her. This was the first step in letting her find her confidence again – by sorting out her personal issues herself, figuring out what it is that she really wants. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done as a mother.
Well, time does heal. It’s been a year since and my daughter has matured into a beautiful confident woman, certainly more sure of herself. She holds her head high and is ready to take on the world. If you look closely there is a shadow of pain in her eyes, but it gives her character and makes her all the more beautiful.
Of course, all of this sounds easy enough if we don’t consider how we hid our pain from a number of our friends and family. There was always that pang we felt as we answered her grandparents’ questions of how the marriage was doing with tight-lipped smiles and false enthusiasm. We wanted their last few years to be free of worry, but was this more for their benefit or ours? I still don’t know.
I wanted to share this to say that divorce is not the end of the world, it is a new beginning in a brave, new, beautiful world! I too learned that my main ‘responsibility’ as a parent and a mother was to empower my girls, as we all should, and then let them go free to explore, discover, and even meander maybe. And then, live some of your dreams through them and don’t ever forget to let them know that you’ve got their back no matter what.
The Railway Woman