I am so f-in tired tire of being apologetic, or maybe, “pre-emptively apologetic” is a better word. It is the act of defending your views before anyone has even tried to refute them. To be pre-emptively apologetic means that I talk about my wife carefully because I fear the comments of others. With Natasha, there was no fear, I could just talk, and talk, and talk.
I hate the way so many people love to ask me, “So, are you dating yet? A lot of women would love to be a stepmom.” People love their soutions. If a conversation is too stressful, or awkward, they must find a solution. If I talk about widowed single dad challenges, the solution is always that I need to get out there and find a woman because, “Little girls need a mom, I am not trying to be sexist, a girl needs a mom.” A mom? For what? Of course if my wife didn’t die life would be easier for us, but my sister has all of the female role-model and ‘girl stuff’ covered. My daughter’s needs are always met between my sister and me. As I have mentioned before, we are like a divorced couple who gets along. I have full custody of course, and my sister sees her once a week. Our family is not ‘normal,’ but it works.
Growing up, Canadian mainstream would mock Indian cculture for having multiple generations living together in what the media calls, “Monster Homes.” Conversely, Indian culture would mock mainstream Canadian culture for isolating seniors. As a truly modern Indo-Canadian family, we choose not to live together, but we all work together to raise Anisha right. Since Natasha died, Anisha has thrived in daycare, kindergarten and now grade one. We are not a nuclear family, but we have blended Indian and mainstream Canadian family styles and formed a new definition of the ideal family. People just can’t let go of the notion that a good family has a man and a woman living together with children.
The heart of my frustration with this sort of rhetoric is that it makes me feel as though I am not doing enough—that my daughter will always be lacking something important: a mom. However, I know through research and counselling is that in order for a child to thrive s/he needs at least one strong, reliable parent, and my daughter essentially has two thanks to my sister.