I’m Anupa Gnanakan, a total Bangalore girl who loves life, family, food, music, reading and my faith. A proud mother of 3 children and happy wife of a supportive husband, life hasn’t always been this easy. All I can say is that, through all the ups and downs, I have learned to look at life positively, knowing that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
They say that marriage is every girl’s dream. But my fairy tale ended way too soon, leaving me with 2 young daughters to raise. With no one taking the blame for the failed marriage, I ventured into life as a single mum. I was blessed to have the love and support of my parents, who stood by me through all my mistakes.
I am a teacher by profession. Starting off as a Montessori trained teacher, I went on to specialise in teaching children with special needs. There were many openings in this field and I was blessed to get a good job in a top school in Bangalore. Being a teacher also has its perks when it comes to children’s education, so my children went wherever I went. This was also a good thing because I was able to have stability in my career, not wanting to move my children around too much.
Being a single mum, and having to face various challenges, especially socially, made me more receptive and tolerant as a teacher. I was able to pick up signs of emotional struggles from my students, I was patient with them, I wasn’t judgmental, I could understand them better, and this led me to be able to help them effectively. This was really helpful, especially with the growing number of single parents in Bangalore.
All the while, my own children had their own set of struggles, but we ploughed through. We learned how to be strong together, how to love each other unconditionally, how to support one another, how to be aware of each other’s needs, how to forgive and accept one another. There were good days and bad days. But we were growing stronger every day, both as individuals and as a broken family.
During this journey is when I met my husband, a friend of a friend, and a fellow teacher. Younger than me, never having been married before, part of a traditional family, we fought all the odds, got the acceptance from our parents, and got married. I had always believed that the right person would come along, someone who would accept me for who I am, and not what I’ve done, and who would love my children like his own. I am grateful to God for this answer to my prayer.
I now work with an NGO, and am the Director – Education. I believe that it is my journey that has led me to this amazing job, and the position that I am still embarrassed about. As a leader, I am able to be positive no matter what, to look at challenges as opportunities, to pick myself up, and my team members, every time I fail, to learn from my mistakes, to look at the bright side of things, and to always believe that ‘this too shall pass’. And all this is what I have learned from my own personal journey.
Life does not always end up the way we or the society expects it to. I believe that we need to raise our children knowing that life is not going to be easy for them. As parents and teachers, we should work at preparing the future generation to face the challenges that lie ahead. I continue to do so, with my own children, and the students of the schools that I work with. I challenge the teachers that work under me to build up problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration skills in the students in their classrooms. If we can do this with our children, I am confident that they will be able to handle their anxieties, insecurities, pressure from their peers, stress, and emotional upsets with an open and stronger attitude.
To all single mothers, women in difficult marriages, women struggling with children with special needs, always know that you’re not alone in what you’re going through, even though it may seem like that. If you feel exhausted, ask for help, even if that might be the hardest thing to do. Be honest with yourself and find an understanding friend and/or family member who you can ‘vent’ with. Please don’t ever bottle things up. Keep your chin up, if not for yourself but for your children. Take a break every now and then, to recoup and regain your strength. Make sure your job is stress free, keeps your mind busy and is fulfilling. Rely on your faith in God. And keep learning and growing, while you’re at it.
I would like to end with a quote from the very strong and influential Maya Angelou, “You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated”. Stay strong and keep the faith!
- Anupa Gnanakan