Monday, June 12th, 2017
My mum died when I was three so I knew nothing else apart from growing up with just my dad.
Not many of my peers were from single-parent households and absolutely nobody I knew growing up was raised only by their dad.
I always knew I was different but it hasn’t been until adulthood that I have really understood, and actually appreciated, just how my unusual upbringing shaped me.
There was no talk of puberty, emotions or relationship in my household.
Apart from that we shouldn’t have the latter until we were 18.
Which most definitely happened.
Having an old sister helped a bit and thank God for teen magazines.
As a woman having no first-hand experience of a mother-child relationship can create such a deep-rooted fear of something that should be natural.
How could I possibly know how to be a good mother if I didn’t have one myself?
My dad was a fashion embarrassment in a lot of ways.
There’s the white, tassled, pleather jacket he wore to collect my sister from the airport once (she walked right past him mortified).
Or there’s the time he insisted my pyjamas were a tracksuit and sent me to school in them.
But for some unknown reason he was an absolute boss at plaiting my hair and actually making it look presentable.
As a child I didn’t quite get a lot of the girly activities.
In adulthood, I found it much easier to make pals with guys who were more straight to the point.
Polite questions such as, ‘is your mum coming to collect you?’ or, ‘what do your parents do?’ can cause distress to any solo-parented child.
However, you soon develop a way to handle such questions with ease.
Despite the obvious cultural differences between where my dad grew up in rural India and where he brought us up in a large British city he never put us down for being female.
There were consistent messages of never letting a man control us and being able to stand on our own two feet that has resonated with me throughout my life.
People often gave me a look of sorrow when I told them I didn’t have a mum.
I’m sure it was genuine but I know from the struggles that my father faced from peers, other family and even staff at me and my sister schools that he was seen as potentially incapable of bringing up two girls.
Sure, things were unconventional and difficult at times but he did an absolutely stellar job.
He made us both the strong, independent women we now are.