“It’s one thing to be a mother or a father but it’s a complete different thing to be a parent.” – Asha Gill
A few weeks back, 20 lucky women had the chance to experience what was it like to be a diva for a day when Capital FM organised the Viva La Diva Tour. From silky hand treatment massages to shopping, these ladies were indeed very happy to have purchased the Groupon voucher. Their day ended when they had the chance to enjoy a meal prepared by Asha Gill herself at the Food Studio.
Asha Gill, a Malaysian-based model, television host, and DJ not only has her career which she needs to focus on but she is a single parent as well. We managed to have a little chat with her about the challenges which a single parent goes through in life. If we could use three words to describe Asha, those three words would certainly be confident, strong and definitely courageous.
Q: As a single parent, what are the types of challenges which you face when it comes to bringing up your son?
A: The challenges are the same for any parent really. I suppose as a single parent, there is only one of you to go around and that can be quite exhausting. However, I know many women who are married and are basically doing all the hard grind themselves, alone, either as stay at home mums or working mums, the onus in Asian culture is still fully on the female’s shoulders.
I don’t think enough people, men and women alike (we must blame upbringing for this cultural attitude) realize that it’s one thing to be a father or a mother, but entirely different to be a parent. A parent is hands on with raising their child/ children and it’s not a part time job for after hours or the weekend.
So I actually feel great sympathy for the women who have a spouse and yet get no real help or support in the daily routines etc. For me, I have only ever known things my way and I think it would be harder to have a partner that didn’t pull their weight.
However, I would have to say the biggest challenge is facing very personal questions being asked about my son’s father, in front of him. I’m surprised that people aren’t more socially aware of acceptable etiquette. In order to honour my son, I answer simply stating I am not married. To which they react with either a horrified, embarrassed or judgemental reaction, all in front of my son. It means I have to keep explaining to my son that some people are rude and narrow minded and that is their problem, not ours. We are fine. This irks me beyond belief. Not because there is anything to be ashamed about, but simply because they do not like my answer and because of their inability to live and let live, they affect my son. The child is standing right beside me.
Q: How do you play the role of a mother and father in your son’s life?
A: With a ‘strap-on’! hahah, kidding.
I don’t play a ‘father’ role or a ‘mother’ role. I always refer to my job as being a parent.
Of course there are things that I lack as a female that a male child really needs, like a love of F1, playing football, teaching him how to politely scratch the itch on his balls.
But then I am not afraid of being straight up and I am a rough and tumble person who loves play fighting and mucking about, so I don’t worry too much about not being able to give him the attention he needs in “HIS” areas of interest. Dinosaurs, Marvel and DC work for me, I can dissect the problem of HULK vs Thor…if you know what I mean.
I think that when it comes to parenting, you work with what you have. Then you sub contract out.
My Little Man has many great strong gentle manly men in his life. There is my father, brothers, my sister in law’s father, his god-fathers and a few great male friends who give him attention.
I cannot stop to think about playing the role of a father figure because that is just a waste of energy. There are many great men I know who grew up having their mother as their singular guardian whether there was a daddy around or not and the resounding thing with all these men, is having a better understanding of women, a greater respect and in turn, when they become fathers, are really different than their dads.
So the only roles I play occasionally is evil witch (very close to normal), Monster child catcher and if he’s lucky, back-up singer in his rock band.
Q: Does he listen to you? What are your tips when it comes to bringing up children?
A: Yes he listens to me if he knows what’s good for him!! 🙂 again, kidding…
Yes, mostly he does. He’s five and super bright and super funny and just a kid, so it’s his job to not listen and to push buttons despite consequences. Children are meant to try your patience so you get more practice being patient!
My tips? Always be honest with them. In a manner they can comprehend. No matter how hard the truth is. Always allow them to be angry, it is an important emotion for them to learn to deal with and try to lead them down the right path of how to deal with anger…i.e. words not actions.
Always tell them you love them, and apologise when you mess up….it doesn’t diminish your power by saying sorry, it’s a gift of showing them everyone makes mistakes, be responsible for yours. Don’t gender discriminate with them about colours, toys, clothing, hobbies etc…just let them be interested in what they like and let them find their own way…of course, you can draw the line at hand-grenades and playing with bleach…( kidding again) The list is far too long….
They are not ours to model in our likeness or the wants of our desires that we never fulfilled. They don’t belong to us; our job is to guide them along their own journey to being who they are.
Q: Do you think it’s important for single mums to be very honest with their kids by revealing their actual situation to them?
A: Absolutely. Language and behaviour teach a child a lot. If we’re ashamed of anything, they will pick up on the fact that this is a negative thing, an abnormal thing and that’s when things get complicated.
Being a single mum is as commonplace as warts and vanilla ice-cream.
In any given situation, a child deserves the truth that they can process or understand given their age.
I even wonder whether single mums need to ‘reveal’ anything because it isn’t a hidden thing to ‘reveal’. You see how language is actually quite sinister and negative depending on how it is innocently used.
It is important to answer their questions about life and that includes why, in my case, he has no father present. So that is where I talk about how different families have different set-ups and how ‘family’ is a word for any group of people who love each other deeply enough to walk through life together. That family is not always blood alone.
To respond honestly without ’emotion’ teaches a child that this is normal and fine.
Just like a child who has to wear glasses and is the first in his class to do so. A parent would naturally point out the obvious physiological reason and then point out that many people wear glasses. They would then address the feelings of being different as the only kid in class to wear glasses, and then you work through the emotions by talking openly without judgement and then you go out and buy a mega cool pair of specs for your kid.
Perception is a delicate thing and it starts with the parent’s feelings or perceptions about anything. When you talk facts, there is not emotion but an exploration of a given situation and the bond of child and parent deepens with trust and also their understanding of the world and how different but how much the same people are.
It is also very important to teach a child, by your own actions, that other people’s reactions should be owned by them, and not you. Vice versa….it’s a critical step towards self-confidence and empowerment.
Q: Single parents need some form of support usually (e.g. emotional, financial or etc.). Where did you get your support from and who would you like to say a big thank you to?
A: Well, I say thank you at every given moment I get really. Constantly because I am blessed with an awesome family and awesome friends who are my family and no matter how tough things get, I have my lifeline on the phone, via email, etc.
Outside of blood, who you choose as your ‘family’ will stand with you in good stead till your last day. Choose wisely, cut the wheat from the chafe and hold on tight for dear life. These are the people who will help you whenever, however, if ever they can.
I don’t get to see any of them nearly as much as I would like to. Juggling career and mummy hood takes up most of my time. But even if we haven’t talked, not seen each other for a while, it takes one call for a dose of ‘pick – me- up’ love that keeps me going.
Q: Being a celebrity, how do you juggle your time between your career and your family?
A: I cringe at the ‘C’ word! I don’t ‘DO’ celebrity. I used to have a job on the telly. I quit that because it wasn’t possible to raise my son the way I wanted to and be racing off for months or weeks at a time. So now I have a job on the radio. I love it very much. It gives me time to think and expand my mind, it supports me and my child and the folks I work with are fabulous. I don’t really go out in the evening unless it’s for work. I catch up with my close friends once in a while, but not often enough. I am a mum. I wake up in the morning, I feed both of us, take child to school, go to work, do my shift, finish up work, pick him up from school, we cook dinner together, we hang out, he goes to bed, I get on with my research for my radio show and then I go to bed….
It’s quite boring and quite lovely all at the same time. Although on days when he isn’t listening to me, I do yearn to get on a plane and head out to some great city and lose myself in discovery…then I get handed a glass of water with melted bits of chocolate smeared on the side and suspicious looking ‘fish’ floating in it and a voice says ” sorry mama, I brought you something to drink’ and my fantasy poofs away and I realize how much I belong exactly where I am , with the love of my life.
Q: Parents usually take their frustrations out on their kids when they are stressed up. What would you suggestion be for you to relax?
A: Is this a serious question?? ahhaha,
err….drink lots of wine, beer or cocktails, take lots of Valium and Xanax, walk around with headphones plugged into your ears blaring some Nine inch nails and you’ll be fine…
Look, I’ll be honest, not many parents have the luxury of taking time to relax. We steal moments. Usually when the kids are asleep! But then we are too exhausted to relax and often crumple into bed ourselves.
Sometimes it’s just taking that extra time to sit on the shower floor and let the hot water pour over you for an extra few minutes. I know its wasting water, but it’s also sanity saving, so when in dire straits, head for the shower. You can lock yourself in and blast some music and just steal 10 -15 minutes.
I find doing something that was my ‘thing’ before child or BC, really helps ground you back to who you were, a human being, before you took on the mantle of ‘boss of everything’.
For me, it’s reading a chapter or as much as I can before exhaustion really kicks in. To dive into a stream of someone else’s imagination and words is extremely therapeutic for me. I shut down from the outside world and I am in a silent one, transported to another plane. I find it unravels me in a most curious way in order to let the tiredness be present so I can sleep despite the fatigue.
Funnily enough, I love my studio at Capital Fm. Whilst it’s work and I do get stressed about work and delivering my shows well, after the panic of putting the show together, the beautiful silence I feel when I am in between ‘talk-sets’ when I switch off the microphone and the songs playing is reviving.
I often realize it is the need for silence that is most craved for. So perhaps that is it. The stealing of as much time as you can get, running to your car and locking yourself in for just a few minutes to start breathing properly again. Silence is very healing, like water.
More often than not, before you can steal the time, you have lost your ‘rag’, shouted at the kids or fumed over something silly. At that point, when frustrations are vented, the next best thing you can do is say you are sorry and that you are having a really crappy day. Not hiding how you feel lessons stress and the kids learn something about emotions, and how to be empathetic too. Then just have an early night and flip a birdie at everything you ‘should’ do this evening and give yourselves some precious sleep.