I wish I was courageous. I wish I was more kind, more graceful, more educated, prettier and smarter. I really wish I was a better, greater version of myself, perhaps I wouldn’t feel this way. I’m sorry but I am not any of these things, and, this is my story.
I am a young black female in her twenties, I grew up in the township with a single mother. Please don’t ask me who my father is because I don’t know him. I know a series of men though, who my mother dated – they each played different fatherly roles in my life. One took me to school every morning and back home every day. One bought me Christmas clothes and took me to different hair salons. One took me to restaurants and bought me buckets of biscuits. One made my mom happy, he made her smile, she was happy. Sadly he was married and got someone else pregnant while married and dating my mother on the side. They all came at different times (sometimes overlapping) but I distinctly remember them for their different roles in my life.
I fell pregnant when I was 17 years old, both my sisters also got pregnant at 15 years so it was expected of me. I dated my first boyfriend in high school (He was the popular guy that everyone wanted). How lucky was I that he chose me? This average girl? I would of cause do everything in my power to keep him, I had to, there were so many girls chasing after him and I had to ensure that he doesn’t slip through my fingers. He was a catch and we were both young, stupid, and in-love. By age 15 I was sexually active, he was my first and with every ounce of my being, I wanted him to be my only. Of cause being 15 and sexually active came with a lot of consequences. I fell pregnant and although it was a huge adjustment, a part of me was happy because I thought, “well now that I’m having his baby he will probably stop cheating and we can all live happily ever after“.
Do you know those young mothers on social media who are “SO GRATEFUL” to have had their kids at such a young age? The ones who wouldn’t change motherhood for anything? I envy them, I wish I was like that. Don’t get me wrong, I love my son but I do wish God would have blessed me with him at a later stage.
Pregnant at 17. Labour pains for a week. C-section. All alone in the maternity ward, all alone in the delivery room. No-one to hold my hand, no-one to receive the baby but my self and the nurses.
“A bouncy baby boy, he is so adorable, you are lucky. In terms of breast-feeding blah blah blah” One very enthusiastic nurse.
I should have probably created a Facebook album titled “bundle of joy”. That’s what they all do right? You have unprotected sex, get pregnant at a young age, you get stressed but when you give birth everything seems alright, and, although the baby was not planned you are so blessed and he is your bundle of joy. That’s how it is, that’s how it’s supposed to be. MY BUNDLE OF JOY. There really must be something wrong with me.
I gave birth, he truly was the most adorable child I had ever seen. The pain…The pain was so persistent! For a second, just a second, I felt such gratitude when I held him in my arms. He would love me, he would give me all the love I have always craved but never received.
Diapers. Clothes. Wipes. Shoes. Baby Deodorants. Food. School.
My mom ensured I got a job and could at least buy the basic necessities before giving birth. Seven days passed, he still hadn’t come to see his baby. My mom had to call and beg him
“The child is now seven days old, when do you plan on coming to see him?”
“I don’t have taxi fare to come, as soon as I have this I will come I promise“
“Please borrow some money from someone and I will reimburse you. Just make sure you come see the child“
Two days later he came to see the child, with nothing, not even Vaseline. Eight years later, I am a single mother. This was not part of the plan. Well, at least in the 8 years that my child has been on this earth, he has at least given me about R1 500.00. Let me do the maths, that’s R64.00 a month. At least that’s something hey? How about child support? He doesn’t work. He’s trying though, or so he says. I have stopped trying and breaking my child’s heart.
“Mama uphi utata? Usandithanda?” (Translated: Mom, where’s dad? Does he still love me?)
Once upon a time my child knew his name, he’s forgotten now. He knows my boyfriend’s name though. He buys him gifts and takes him to school. I guess the cycle is starting again.
They call girls like me damaged? The typical township stereotype? Generational curse? There’s a word for girls like me, I’ve heard it before. Like every other bad word that’s been thrown my way – I’ve forgotten what they refer to us as. It wouldn’t work though – I’m already numb.