I chose to remarry and let my daughter live with my ex. According to society, that made me a bad mother
An inspiring story about starting over
We rarely see happy blended families on screen. When an ex pops up, it’s usually for funnies and plot twists. The bitter ex-wife hell-bent on ruining the man’s new love prospects. Or a man walking away from his family, leaving his former wife to pick up the pieces. Rarely do you get to hear the stories we need, of women moving on, getting remarried and starting over.
Just the concept of single mothers entering the dating pool is a lot for some people to wrap their heads around. How do they have time to date? Why aren’t they focused on their children? Women are made to feel guilty for seeking happiness beyond the joys of motherhood.
Getting remarried wasn’t part of Deepti Sharma’s plan. A single mother out of an abusive marriage, she was content with custody of their adopted daughter and a budding career. She maintained cordial relationships with her former partner and ensured their daughter had a good relationship with her father — “My ex was never a good husband, but he always took care of our daughter.”
Love came knocking on her door one day and changed everything. When she got pregnant again, remarried and chose to move away for her second husband’s job while her daughter stayed with her ex, the judgement rained down, especially from other women.
“When a man leaves his wife and kids without any support, and remarries, it’s OK. Seeing a woman move on in any way is tough for our society,” she says.
Still, hers is a happy blended family across borders. Read her inspiring account:
“Women should know that it’s ok to choose your happiness in life.”
I was in an abusive marriage for ten years. I couldn’t conceive and was made to believe that the fault was mine.
After six years of trying, we adopted a 4-month-old baby girl — something I had always wanted to do. I became a mother overnight and my life changed. My ex was never a good husband, but he always took care of our daughter.
When she was two years old, I moved out. I couldn’t take the insult and pain anymore.
My ex harassed me a little but finally agreed to a mutual divorce as I didn’t ask for any alimony. I only requested a peaceful exit. I got custody of our daughter and we started our separate lives.
I never stopped our daughter from meeting her father. In a lot of separations, I’ve seen parents plant seeds of negative thoughts in the child’s mind to vent their own grudge against their ex-partners, but hatred should not be taught by parents.
So our daughter was always a happy child. Yes, her father lived in a separate house but emotionally, we kept her very secure. We attended her school functions together, took her out for meals. We even took her for a couple of holidays together as a family. My ex and I kept easy terms and with time, he understood that it’s better this way.
After five years of being single, I met Siddhartha. He brought positivity and happiness into my life. Being a single working parent was taking a toll on me, but in came someone who gave me love and respect.
I was not very keen on remarrying — it would have been a second marriage for us both. Siddhartha kept asking me about having a child — his ex had custody of their daughter and he missed her. But I had no answers. I was so sure that I would never conceive that I joked, ‘If I ever get pregnant, I’ll marry you’.
After one year of dating, we discovered that I was pregnant. Tears rolled down my face. I couldn’t believe it and repeated the pregnancy test four time. Yes, I was having a baby and our families were super happy. We got married within 20 days.
I had already moved my daughter into a boarding school just before I met Siddhartha. As a single working mother in a city like Gurugram, it was tough to manage alone. She was aware of Siddhartha’s presence in my life, but I never pushed her to view him as a father figure. She had a father and their relationship was strong. So there was no vacuum in her life when it came to family love.
We spoke about me getting remarried and having another baby. She had always wanted a sibling, so she was ecstatic.
I never wanted to decide for her as to where she should live. So, I asked her, “Who do you want to live with?” She answered, “Papa”.
I was ok with her decision. My ex also said, “Now you have another family, so let her be with me.” Siddhartha understood what it was like not having his own daughter around and helped me adjust and cope. Everyone deserves to be happy and my ex took up our daughter’s responsibility gladly. Now, I’ve started a new life. Both my daughter and I are in a happy space.
But kuch toh log kahenge, logo ka kaam hai kehna. The questions started, ‘where is your daughter?’ ‘Is she not with you now?’ ‘Have you abandoned her?’ ‘How could you just leave her like that?’ They were endless.
I was expecting and the stress wasn’t helping. Siddhartha was very supportive and pushed me to focus on what made my daughter happy. And she was happy with her dad. Earlier, she would go and spend time with him. Now she would come to me on weekends or holidays. But according to society, that made me a bad mother.
Whenever I posted her photos on social media, so-called friends would comment – “arrey, where is she? Not with you now? We’ve been so worried about her. She’s so young. We’re sure she misses you like hell”
These are the same people who never bothered to pick up the phone to check on us. I was so fed up that I stopped sharing pictures.
I continued to hear taunts. Someone said something along the lines of, “Baccha sadak par cchodna hee tha toh humko hee de deti (If you were going to leave your child on the roadside you might as well have given her to us).” I was shocked. She’s with her father and not on the road. Other comments came, like, “Apna baccha nahin hai na, apna khoon nahin hai isliye chchod diya (She’s not your biological child, not your own blood, that’s why you left her).”
Soon after our son was born, Siddhartha got an opportunity to move to Singapore and we moved. That was more masala for people to talk. First, I left my daughter with my ex and now I was leaving the country.
When a man is getting remarried, leaving his ex-wife and kids, it’s OK. Seeing a woman move on in any way is tough for our society
How is it wrong for a mother to let her child be with the father? A father’s responsibility isn’t any less than a mother’s. But a woman choosing her happiness is wrong.
My daughter is my first child. She’s special, I love her and I don’t need to prove this to anyone. She loves her brother. He’s just four years old so doesn’t really understand much. When we go to India, both my kids spend time together. Due to Covid-19, our India trip is not happening this year, but we have video calls almost every day.
It has taken a long time for me to understand that being happy is not a crime. My daughter and I are far from each other but are there for each other. The only two people who need to know this and be OK with it are the two of us.
I want to share my story because women should know that it’s OK to choose your happiness in life. There’s no need to live in guilt. As long as you and your kids are happy, safe and healthy. Both of you can build your own life, guilt-free.”
As told to Sara Hussain.