Being a mom day in and day out is a tough task and kudos to all of us for that! But there are days when motherhood can seem like a tough task. That’s when we look for some inspiration! Here are stories of six such unconventional but truly amazing mothers. They are all featured in an all-inspiring book by Aparna Jain called Like A Girl.
Let’s get inspired!
1. Gauri Sawant
Born male, Gauri Sawant decided to undergo a Sex Reassignment Surgery and name-change after spending many years feeling like a woman in a man’s body. When an HIV-positive sex worker who lived in her neighbourhood died, leaving behind a five-year-old daughter, Gauri adopted the child and named her Gayatri Gauri Sawant. Gauri is involved in efforts to provide counselling to people from the transgender/hijra communities and build a home for the abandoned children of sex workers. She says motherhood is the best feeling in the world!
2. Anshu Jamsenpa
Anshu Jamsenpa got married to the owner of a Himalayan adventure company while she was still in school. They soon had two children. One day, Anshu decided to go mountaineering too, and has never looked back. With the support of her husband and instructors at his company, Anshu trained hard and eventually achieved her dream of scaling Mount Everest.
Today, she is the only Indian woman to have climbed the Everest five times! A wonder-mom, Anshu encourages children to respect nature and climb mountains.
3. Leila Seth
It was the 1950s and Leila Seth was living in London with her husband and young son. Her husband encouraged her to study, but she had to choose a subject that would require least attendance so she could continue fulfilling her duties as a mother. That is how the future High Court judge began her illustrious career in law.
As expected, Justice Seth faced many challenges including being addressed as ‘My Lord’ instead of ‘My Lady’ because lawyers weren’t used to a woman judge! She was part of many important commissions and committees, including one that recommended changes to the Hindu Succession Act so daughters could get equal property rights.
4. Mahasweta Devi
The eldest of nine siblings, Mahasweta Devi was more like a little mother than a sister. She was strict with the little ones but also told them exciting bedtime stories. Her gift for storytelling became her calling for life, and she went on to write many fun books for children which contained Indian characters and settings.
This prolific writer also worked for the upliftment for the Sabar tribe – spending so much time in their villages that the people began to call her Ma. Her son Nabarun Bhattacharya also grew up to become a noted writer.
5. Savitribai Phule
An extraordinary woman who was born into the Shudra community and became a campaigner for girls’ education, Savitribai Phule also had an inspiring family life. Together with her husband Jyotirao Phule, she started a school for ‘lower-caste’ girls in Pune and bravely withstood the angry retaliation of ‘upper-castes’.
Savitribai also started a shelter for widows and adopted a widow’s child. When Jyotirao died, their son insisted that Savitribai should light the pyre. It was a very revolutionary act for those times.
6. Mary Kom
Olympic boxing bronze medallist Mary Kom is a household name, but did you know that she was a mom of two? Chungneijang – which is Mary’s real name – was already an Arjuna Award winner when she got married to a footballer friend and gave birth to twins.
She returned to boxing camps leaving the kids in the care of her husband. She missed them terribly and had to work extremely hard to get back in shape – but she did it! Tiger-mom Mary made the country proud yet again in 2018, winning a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games at the age of thirty-five.
Read more about these inspirational women and others like them in Like A Girl: Real Stories For Tough Kids by Aparna Jain.
Disclaimer: The portraits of women in the banner image are sourced from Like A Girl By Aparna Jain. Illustrated by (clockwise from the top) Shikha Nambiar, Anjul Dandekar, Alia Sinha, Bhavya Kumar, Priya Kuriyan, Tara Anand
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