“My son was attached to my stepmother and my daughter enjoyed the attention from my mother. This camaraderie, unity and selfless teamwork was and is uncommon amongst divorced couples: Eshani ShahShares Her Fascinating Journey Growing Up in The Taarak Mehta Family
Today’s woman dreamer, Eshani Shah, the daughter of Taarak Mehta, one of India’s most famous writers, fondly known for the famous show, Taarak Mehta KaOoltahChashmah, shares her incredible journey growing up in this creative, artistic celebrity family, and how being immensely loved and nurtured by both her mothers (birth-mother and step-mother) helped her grow into the woman she is today.
Eshani, a very talented artist, shares how effective co-parenting changed her life in this heartwarming story. An inspiring story for all generations on the power of great parenting and putting children first! Enjoy her story below!
A healthy relationship between separated parents leaves a very positive impact. Honest, straightforward co-parenting is the best way to raise a content child. They should never have to make choices of time and lifestyle between parents. For an only child this can become challenging but my family dynamics made a profound impact on who I am today.
My childhood was mostly normal with one main exception: Since both my parents did theater, I spent a lot of evenings alone at home with domestic help or at the rehearsals with one of them. The weekends again would be spent backstage or dozing in the auditorium. Living in an apartment complex eventually introduced me to lots of friends, whose houses became another good option for weekends. When they toured for plays, I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents. While I didn’t see my parents often, being surrounded by people 24/7 definitely gave me a supportive environment to grow up in. Although I grew up in a vibrant theater background, the theater bug did not really bite till much later in life after I met my Husband Chandu Shah, who is also from a similar background.
My parent’s marriage was a love marriage which always comes with higher expectations. You have already put your partner on a pedestal and believe that they are your soulmate or your dream partner. When these presumptions start shattering, it becomes difficult to save a relationship. Giving time to each other, shouldering responsibilities equally or respecting each other’s ambitions are some of the key elements of a happy marriage; when these somehow started diminishing from their marriage, they mutually decided to part ways.
I was 11 and a bit young to understand what was going on, but a decision was made to put me in boarding school. I went to a boarding school in Panchgani, the most memorable time of my life. My parents used to visit but never came together. I was 13 when they officially divorced. I was a very mature child at 13 so they did not fight for custody but gave me a choice of who I would stay with. I chose to stay with my dad primarily because it was an environment I grew up in. My mom eventually remarried. I came back to Mumbai when I was 16. after graduating high school. Whenever I visited during vacations, both my parents always presented a unified front spending some quality time together with me. Even my step father joined at times. My transitions spending time with both my parents were peaceful. The time at boarding school helped to build my high-spirited personality, which has helped me all my life.
I have seen my mom struggle in the initial years of marriage trying to balance work and personal life. She was fiercely independent and worked very hard to fulfill her dreams. Divorce in the 70s was very uncommon and most of my maternal family, including my grandmother, broke ties with her. She was heartbroken, but with her resilience, continued her journey of theater. By then, she had taken a job with a bank and was multitasking. She never let her personal struggles influence me. My step father passed away when I was 19 and it was devastating. As now she was alone all over again, I started staying with her. In all those years, what I learnt from her is to be independent. She taught me that emotional dependency and financial dependency can lead to disappointments. This holds true for partners, friends, family and children. She had excellent taste in clothes and jewelry and was always very presentable. She was a good singer, dancer and an artist and always the life of a party. I think I have inherited most of her traits.
After I came to Mumbai, I stayed with my father but he was as busy as I had seen him growing up. I was then going to college and busy with my life. It was around then that my step mother Induben used to visit. Dad first introduced her as a friend. But whenever she visited, she cooked for us and did errands for my dad. That’s when I told my father that if he feels that she is the right life partner for him, I am with him. That’s when they got married and my step mother became a bigger part of my life. I did not need much parenting at that point, so she became more of a friend… She was very lovable and took such good care of my dad. Her struggles were similar to my moms, due to my fathers lifestyle, but she took it in her stride. She gave up her ambitions and became a homemaker. Starting the 1980s, my father had become a household name with his column “ Duniya ne UndhaChasma “ in a Gujarati magazine Chitralekha and my step mother was his PR. With all his popularity, he was shy and a bit of an introvert, but my step mother responded to his fans and made them feel special. Her reverence for my father is what kept her going. When I got married, both my mothers did my “Kanyadan” (gave me away). They were a team from the start. I came to the USA in 1984 and my relationship with both my moms became long distance – despite this, they were unified looking after my needs. Whenever either visited, there would be goodies from both of them.
This tradition continued after my twins were born. It looked like God had created a miracle so they each had a bundle of joy they could pamper. My son was attached to my stepmother and my daughter enjoyed the attention from my mother. This camaraderie, unity and selfless teamwork was and is uncommon amongst divorced couples. As for me, because I did not have to make any difficult choices and there was so much harmony in the relationship with both of them , I did not grow up with any emotional baggage.
My stepmother and my father even after achieving celebrity status was not abashed about his divorce and supported/ took care of my mother through thick and thin till her last days. Their solidarity gave me a lot of peace of mind. These days, divorces are common and custody cases can get nasty, creating a negative impact on the child. Fighting parents is not an uncommon sight for children and if things just don’t work out then I think a seamless separation and giving the child a guilt free upbringing is the key. I was blessed that I did not have to choose and balance my affections, so in turn they were never competing for my attention.
I have fulfilled most of my dreams and now just want to support my children and whatever they do and live their dreams. I want to travel. I love planning events but with this pandemic the dynamics have changed so hoping to find a new avenue…I want to thank the Women Who Win team for inviting me to share my personal journey that I am blessed with. First by love of 2 mothers and now love of twins….
(Eshani Shah is an accomplished entrepreneur, award winning actor, event planner and a community leader combined with experience in two very distinct fields, Entertainment and National Security. Eshani’s leadership contribution includes organizing various theatrical as well as cultural events in the New England Area and helped non-profit organizations to raise funds for educational, cultural and religious purposes. She has volunteered her services and skills to many local Boston and National organizations. As a part of the executive team at S4, Eshani helped S4, Inc. growth over 700% in last 10 years which has been in top five growing companies of Boston Business Journal Pacesetter and fastest growing small business as rated by Inc 500. Being an award winning actress dancer herself she is also the owner of a very successful Entertainment/Event management company called Dhoom Entertainment which arranges programs all over USA.)
Founded in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, Women Who Win was born with the belief that every woman has a dream and a story to tell. Created by three South-Asian women based in Boston, Dr. Manju Sheth, Dr. Deepa Jhaveri, and ShaleenSheth, Women Who Win is the platform that brings women of all cultures, industries, and age groups together. Their global network of contributors share inspiring, relatable, and relevant original stories, educating and empowering the everyday woman dreamer. Through education, empowerment, and a global community, they equip women with the tools and motivation to make their dreams a reality. Their platform covers all topics from women’s health, women in the workplace, women in tech, arts & lifestyle, wellness & workouts, and global recipes. With a global network of women in over 80 countries, their members learn from and inspire each other in their personal and professional careers, they invite you to join their leading women’s community here.
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