Single Mother and a not so single son

Being Single Mother

Varsha (name changed),
visited me thrice in a week. This is not how frequently I see my
patients. Unless there is a very volatile situation, patients need to
see me once in two weeks or once a month.

Varsha has a special
problem. She lost her husband to a sudden and massive heart attack
three years ago. With a young son in tow, she had to shift in with
her in-laws for practical reasons. After initial teething troubles,
they all have settled well together and money is not a huge concern.

As Varsha does not want
to be married again, and is not even looking for a relationship, life
seems calm and quiet.

But, there is a problem.
Aarush (name changed) , Varsha’s 13 year old son is on his own trip.
He has a mobile phone, a bunch of friends and not very high regard
for studies. It is not that he is running around doing nasty things
or getting letters from school all the time. He is just not
interested in behaving the way his mother wants him to.

On the face of it,
Varsha’s expectations are simple. She expects him to study for at
least two hours everyday, play with friends for as much time as he
wants, eat a good square meal that she prepares for him, respect
grand-parents, be aware that money is not unlimited and restrict his
conversations on phone to bare minimum. She also expects him to be
aware of time and mange it with lot of thought and planning. What it
means is that from the time he wakes up, Aarush should not loiter
around, he should be quick on his feet and do things with a zest that
suits a young man of thirteen.

Their relationship is so
affected by this time management issue that they hardly talk to each
nicely. Varsha is forever trying to make him rush through tasks of
the day and Aarush wants to delay everything as much as possible.
Sometimes even missing the school bus or tennis practice ! His
grandparents sympathize with Varsha and understand her motherly
intentions, but they feel helpless in the constant tug of war between
mother and son.

When I started talking
to Varsha, it was clear that she was under tremendous burden to help
help son achieve the best possible things in life. Her husband’s
death had left her with a huge emotional void and she had stopped
thinking about herself completely. It had even affected the way she
dressed and the way she ignored her appearance . Her only goal in
life was to make sure that her son did well in life and she could see
academics as the only way of making that happen. Husband’s untimely
death changed her perception of time as well. This rude realization
that life is very fickle and unpredictable made her take passage of
time very seriously.

According to Varsha,
every moment of life is an opportunity that will never come your way
again. Every moment must be utilised to make your life more
productive and better. Aarush has a very different temperament, even
at the age of 13 he is a person who helps his friends in emotional
problems. He is a source of information, support and advice to his
friends, boys and girls alike. He spends time on phone, giving
counsel to his classmates and he is liked for that by his
schoolmates. There are times when Aarush will even sit with his
mother and talk to her about various things, sharing her worries and
all !

What Aarush can not
understand is his mother’s sense of hurry and constant panic as if
time is running out. His solution to that is to slow everything down,
take life easy and he hope that his mother will learn from his

A family session that
included grandparents with Aarush and Varsha was very helpful to
highlight this issue. Varsha was for the first time in three years
was able to voice openly how much she missed her husband and how deep
her fear and insecurity runs. Fortunately, grandparents rose to the
occasion and pledged to support Varsha emotionally as well. As the
whole family reunited in their desire to live a “normal” life, I
could only hope that now Aarush will get a chance to shed his adult
role and go on to become a lovely child that he is.

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