So older my sister Tracy in my opinion has been a mother since our childhood, around 12 years of age she already had to help my mother with our home business and everything in between. Our mother was a single mother so she relied a lot on us being self reliant and also rely on each other in her journey as a mom. She had to be both the father and mother to us which she did with so much grace and resilience, but that's a story for another day haha, today is about Tracy's journey. My sister was a fitting helper to my mom, she was a great partner, she practically raised us when my mom was not there. she taught me how to read and love reading and today I am even able to blog because she made me fall in love with writing and telling stories too. She used to read novels to me in our Khayelitsha home and with that made me escape through my imagination to a place so far from South Africa let alone Khayelitsha and I believe that made me always want to push my boundaries and break barriers. In 2012 she herself became a mother to a beautiful baby boy...I mean it guys, he really is beautiful, outwardly and inwardly. I asked Tracy to write a piece about her journey as a mother and this is what she had to say....
Before we go, let me tell you, My sister is a staunch feminist :-)
Secretly I have always wanted to be a mother to a boy, but don't tell anyone that my son was a conception in my mind before he was conceived in my womb. Because when I had him I was not married so... Society, some dreams are just reserved for marriage for women. Oh yes I will indulge you in a bit about that topic but let me tell you about my transition from little girl to woman.
My experience as a mother, my Gift from God, being a single mom. I am sure every woman before they deliver a baby cannot believe that their body could possibly carry a life, I mean a living breathing soul can come out of you, until it happens to you it's hard to imagine. If not then I'm sorry it's probably just me being weird. When I told my mother she gave me such a gaze that I am totally shocked it didn't kill me. She said "Do you have a plan? ". She never asked me at all about whether or not it was a planned pregnancy she just needed to know if I had a plan to feed this baby, my facial expression took a drastic turn from, shame to fear to horror. As I was about to break down and weep, she turned the heat on her gaze and said "hayi wenzani, uzokhala? Khandikuthume zinyembezini mna ndibuze umbuzo futhi andizange ndizale nkenenkene mna, phendula umbuzo qha wena" (translated "What? are you going to cry now? I never asked for tears i just asked a question. Besides i have never given birth to a weakling, answer the question"). I had no idea what that statement meant, here I was with a situation of falling pregnant without a husband, knowing perfectly well the preventative methods, and now my strength was in question.
In her statement this woman is insinuating and she seems pretty sure that she only births the strong, I felt so weak so therefore I must've not been born of her?! And so I said, "Yes". And I creatively came up with a quick five year plan and a budget speech, she despises the "victim mentality" by the way. And as soon as I was done excusing my actions she said "Wow I am going to be a Grandmother" and then shut her beautifully wrinkled hands together . Now my baby budget speech, that was definitely the little girl in me talking, because now as a woman I know , in life when raising a child you can never really know what will happen. But it's good to plan I was on the right track I guess.
My labour was scheduled, yes I chose a C-section because being the control freak that I am, I had to be aware of everything that was going to happen. I checked myself in at the hospital with a file containing all the paperwork required for the occasion, I made sure that I did not miss a single signature.
In the delivery room, I will never forget the day. At 2h15 his birth was, but scheduled for 11h00, I am sure there was another baby who was in a hurry to beat the traffic to see the sun. So he had to come a few hours later. I heard the Dr scream my name Tracy meet your baby about 3 times, the last time there was a bit of a panic in her voice. My silence for the couple of seconds was so unusual it was a stranger to me too. I had never seen anything more perfect and it was being given to me and I felt so unworthy, so undeserving I wanted there and there to give him the world, in fact the air in the room alone I felt was not enough for him. I wanted to borrow from the nostrils of the doctors just so he could have enough. I requested that the baby be given to the father, I felt he was at a better mental space to handle this whole situation, throughout the entire ceremony he acted as professionally as the Doctors, it totally escaped me that calm and collected was really his character.
Lulo my sister instructed we name the baby, she is very authoritative that one. But in a sweet, subtle and suggestive manner she will present it to you how it's in your best interest to take her advice. So we just indulged her, I mean my gyne appointments were split between her, my mother and the father, so she deserved to name the baby. Lulo turned out to be such a Jam, sweet, humble and ever so gentle. This year he started grade R and fell in love with his teacher's assistant. Plays cricket and Karate.
As I promised him the day he was born I would rather walk barefeet in the rain on a winter's night, than to deprive him of any opportunity. From birth he took to his father. They did everything together, he literally potty trained him. When he was four his father left the city to look for better opportunities in a far away town. My son's life for the first time was turned upside down. And this was the first disappointment in his life that I could literary not control. He gave away his bicycle and said he would give it to another little boy who has a daddy that can ride with him. Now this is the bit that literally requires a little girl to woman up! I had to mold my child and ensure that this particular circumstance does not turn him to bitterness. At the same time nurse my own broken heart. Even though I absolutely understood his father's reasons that he had to sacrifice watching him grow up to afford him a better future. How do you explain that to a toddler.
So on valentine's day this year in Grade R at his new school, he asked me to help him write a letter to his teacher and ask her to be his girlfriend.
So I asked him "Lulo what makes you love Miss Baker?"
He "she is beautiful mama, she has beautiful hair" Miss baker is your typical blonde from Mills and Boon with a small waist and shocking blue eyes. So the whole week our bedtime story was from a book about a pretty little girl from a small village with hair that had beautiful kinks, curls and super powers. He then came to me and said "mama Miss Baker is always nice to me, always allows me to explain things In Xhosa if I don't know the English word". And I obviously explained to him that he must stick to girls his own age.
There are so many books written, that guide us on what to expect from motherhood, but however motherhood as we've come to experience does not come with a manual, you've gotta roll with the punches. For me it is important to remember the kind of adult you would like your child to be one day and let that be your guide. This is my personal experience of "Mommying In the City", being a single mother really means being a superhero, you literally have to stay up alone at night when your child is sick, sometimes kids get the weirdest illnesses that when you look at them, they seem fatal. Imagine having no one to share that horror with. It would really help to know that while the baby is throwing up, that there is someone else who is fetching the thermometer. You overcompensate, my son the other day told me that he is a pirates fan and I realised I now had to bring myself up to speed with soccer just incase he has a vested interest, I salute those moms that stand in courts at those wooden counters and convince their co-accomplis why they should feed their own offspring! It takes a lot of courage, patience and grace because our justice system is not a great helper! I also salute those mothers who take the responsibility graciously and lovingly raise their beautiful gifts from God without saying a single bitter word to their children about their fathers. Because they have the wisdom to know that, a child is not a tool that you should use to fight battles that you lost. I guess when my mother asked me what my plan was she was preparing me for when the time came, and the curtains had dropped on my teenage love bubble that I understood that I had a responsibility to raise this child, with someone or by myself.