When I was 9 years I followed my older sister and her friends to the park without their permission. My sister was upset with me but she let me follow them because I promised to “tell on her” if she didn’t want to play with me. We were not allowed to walk to the park on our own.
When we got to the park I saw this silver pole slide and went down on it, when I got to the bottom I knew I was dead. In my heart and in my head I was sure I was dead. Not that I knew what being dead was like but I felt so much pain rushing through my entire body that I was convinced I had died. I opened my mouth and let out the sharpest and strongest cry I could let out. Our home was about 500m from the park, my sister who is only 3 years older than me as well as her two friends who were all skinnier were not able to carry me home, my crying didn’t help the process, neither was my certainty that I had broken all the bones in my body. I asked them to leave me in the park so I could die in peace. My sister and her friends figured that I had sprained one of my legs but I assured them that my entire body was broken and that I couldn’t move an inch. Stressed and worried, my sister ran to a nearby tree, took a few leaves, took a rock and crushed the leaves and then she spit on them. She came to me and told me that she had found “magical leaves” just like that documentary I had always watched and she had made a remedy that would make the pain a bit better. She rubbed the mixture on my one leg and she assured me that “the remedy she applied on the one leg had drained all the pain from my body to just that one leg”, I believed her for I had seen magic leaves before on TV. So I utilised other parts of my body and made the process of them carrying me home easier. When I arrived home, my father took me to the hospital and I had a foot cast for 2 months. Throughout the months I was convinced of the magical leaves that were available at that tree in KwaLanga and the fact that my sisters saliva was magical because she had made me a remedy that took the pain away from my entire body.
I told everyone about the magical leaves. When I was 10 I burnt half my face, my sister had gone out to play with her friends. My older cousin and father took me to the hospital and the doctor gave me an ointment, I didn’t want to take it for I was convinced that my sister would be able to heal me with the magical leaves and her saliva. My father took it and he had trouble with me whenever the time came to apply the ointment because I wanted the magical leaves, eventually a meeting was called where I was told that there is no such thing as “magical leaves” and that my sister had lied to get me to move. I was dumbstruck
“How? I am certain I had died and that my sister brought me back to life?”
“And how did my 12 year old sister think of such a plan? No adults and she improvised to get me home. How? She was so young?”
Today, my sister has three kids and I recall on one occasion her oldest daughter was “sick” because she didn’t want to do a house chore. She cried for an hour or so, my sister took pure still water, mixed it with mint leaves and told her it was medicine so that she could be healed. And what do you know? A few minutes later Chantel was “healed“. LOL, my sister has always been a natural, effortless caregiver.
Motherhood is a bold step, one that some of us fall into by pure carelessness and sometimes by unfortunate circumstances. My mother had always told us how my father only wanted one child. When their first child (our oldest brother) passed away, my father then decided that perhaps having two children is best. My mother gave birth to my older brother and then to my sister 4 years later – both planned. Three years later, “SUPRISE! Little Sibahle was born”, mistakenly.
My parents spoilt my brother with everything he wanted. They only got the best for him and basically treated him like a Prince. When he grew up he started experimenting with drugs, one day he experimented with a drug I don’t even know. When he got home he couldn’t even walk nor talk properly, he got into an argument with my mother and promised to kill her. He left the house and we locked, when he returned he broke all the windows with his fists and we spent the better half of the night running on the streets away from him until we went to one of my mothers friends to sleep there. Today, he is 34 years old with 3 children and he has never had a job for more than 3 months in his entire life. My parents still take care of him, I do too. My sister is a tough love kinda girl, so she is not involved with anything to do with him.
“Cut the umbilical cord. Don’t give him money. Don’t buy him anything”
That’s what everyone says. They say it to my parents, they say it to me. In this instance who do we blame? My parents who spoilt him? Me for still enabling him to live off me? Or my brother who never took any kind of responsibility for his life nor is he doing it now with his children?
There are so many famous people with shocking childhood stories who are now successful (Charlize Theron, Oprah Winfrey etc.), as well as so many well-known people with great childhoods stories who have made awful decisions towards their lives. As a mother, an aunt, a mentor and a daughter, I sometimes wonder and worry if I am doing enough. There is no guarantee, there is no “one size fits all“. All we can do is try to give our daughters the best we can, work hard for them, support them, believe in them, cheer them on and pray that they will turn into decent human beings that will contribute to the bettering of society. So what do we tell our daughters? What will we teach them?
I see so many young mothers – especially in the black community – who fall pregnant at a young age and they have to take care of the children on their own because the father isn’t financially supporting the child. Many of them will post it on social media (Remember the recent Duma Ntando incident?). Don’t get me wrong social media is a great platform to vent but with the accelerated growth of social media these days, I personally wouldn’t want my child to grow up having to read about her father not supporting her. If the father is absent, then I would much rather take the legal route and have the law deal with him.
That’s another thing, how honest should we be? It’s so hard to find balance because as a mother you want your child to have the best childhood and a great relationship with both parents and you want to protect your child from knowing that she has a deadbeat father, however, you are also human and sometimes you just want to scream “Uphi utatakho?” because it can all get a little overwhelming. So where do we draw the line? What do we tell our children? What do we teach them?
We teach them about life and love. We tell them our stories and what has shaped/moulded us into the people we are today. We plead with them to not make the same mistakes we made. We love them, we protect them, we teach them, we support them and we let them celebrate their individuality. When the time comes for them to leave the nest we take solace in the fact that we did the best we could and we hope that we did enough. We become the best mothers we can, everyday we learn how to become better mothers. Giving up is not a word found in the motherhood dictionary, as mother’s we don’t do that. So when our daughters fall and break their legs, what do we do? We put on our superwoman capes and pull “magical remedies” out of the bag, because that’s what we represent to our daughters – Hope.