Pregnancy alone takes it’s toll on a woman’s mental and physical state. Imagine going through with no support from the person who helped make you pregnant, coupled with having to raise the child by yourself after you give birth! This is the story of Ms J aka Thobile Ximba, who went through the gruelling experience of having to a man to show up and be a father to his child…
There is no greater gift than the gift of motherhood. I remember when I first saw my baby girl after delivery. She looked like no one I know!! She was light skinned. So beautiful. She was not screaming like I imagined she would. My hands were itching to hold her however I could not because I had gone under the knife. I could not move, I still had to be monitored by doctors due to the cesarean birth. That was almost three years ago, life has changed so much since then.
I became a mother at the age of 29. The father of my child and I had separated before I fell pregnant, but because I like nice things, I kept going back for more and that more is turning 3 years old in August. When baby daddy was 21 years old, he became a father and I watched him father his son through the years, absolutely smitten by this little boy. Fully active. When I got pregnant, I had a reference point. He was a father to an 8 year old, I had no worries whatsoever! Everything was supposed to go smoothly but it didn’t.
We fought a lot. We still fight.
So here’s the thing, I am a 31 year old single mother to a beautiful 2 year old baby girl. I say I am a single mother because the father is an absent father and I am singlehandedly raising our daughter. If we were co-parenting, I would not be a single mother.
When my daughter was 7 weeks old, my grandmother, whom I lived with passed away. Imagine being a first time mother, having to look after a household on your own while taking care of a little demanding human being, having no clue what to do when the baby screams for hours on end. Having little guideline – from my mum, over the phone. My pillar had passed away. I was overwhelmed. The greatest thing about my daughter is that she is not a difficult child. That eased the burden a bit.
I like calling my daughter Miss K, so I will use that name. When she was 5 months old, I had to start working, I was introduced to mother’s guilt. I remember thinking to myself that Miss K will forget about me. She is going to get used to her nanny who was an elderly lady who lived 2 houses away from home. I was ready to die!!! However that was not the case. I was and still am relieved that my baby knows who I am. The thing about parenting alone is, you do not get any support nor comfort from the father of your child. I had to make decisions pertaining our daughter on my own. As in, the daycare she attends, it was all on my hands, to the formula she took. The nanny. Everything, on my own.
When you become a single mother yet you were promised that you and your baby will be taken care of, years before you were ready to become a mother. Nothing can prepare you for the hurt and pain that follows with being let down. That is the foundation of what single motherhood has been for me. It got birthed after he decided he was not going to involve himself in his daughter’s life.
Before Miss K turned 1, her father got married to someone else. This was the worst chapter of my life because there was a lot of immaturity and loneliness. The fights were tedious and stupid however that time helped me heal and grow. I got to know fully the man I had once loved and trusted to be a good father to our daughter. He was not all what I thought he was. I have been promised a beat down!! Labelled a crazy baby mama, ostracised by his family. I have grown some thick skin now because wow!
He was employed, yet not paying child maintenance, seeing Miss K when it suited his new wife. I remember asking a friend to buy nappies for me because they were peyiye (finished) and I had no one else to turn to, my mum was too far from me so I could not ask her. I remember his grandmother up in arms and said I was disrespectful for asking him to buy formula for his child! Thick skin. It was a dark time.
I have since learned to be self-reliant. Ask for help where required. Cry my heart out when needed. Take care of my mental health. My journey as a single mother has been emotionally exhausting. From having depressive episodes to chronic fatigue, not forgetting no social life. Men choose not to be fathers. They choose not to add any value. Baby daddy and I fight like crazy, he still does not contribute in any way, his family hasn’t seen my daughter in months and that is fine. You learn to accept these things and rely on your pillars. Mum, friends and family. It is imperative to build a solid support structure that will help you groom and raise your child, also who will bring you wine when you most need it. I honestly have no idea how my life would be if it wasn’t for my pillars, especially my mum who has been living with my daughter for a year.
Tiny hands that wake me up early on a Saturday morning. Midweek calls from a hoarse beautiful tiny voice. Songs created using my name. This is what my journey is all about.