Sink or Swim

11 months later and I can safely say that the past month has been one of my toughest months ever since this journey began. Not as a mother or because of any new milestones (there have been a number of those) but it has been just a very difficult month for me- the individual. I realised that I hadn’t had time to unpack any of my emotions, my deepest fears or aspirations in a long time, everything in my life has been revolving around ensuring that my daughter has a wholesome experience with every little thing and in turn, my mental health had depreciated. I was falling behind with taking care of my mental wellbeing.

Raising a person who is experiencing every single thing for the first time is the most difficult role ever. You have to be really careful with how you react, how you navigate and how you express yourself because children are like little sponges that just soak up everything especially the energy around them and they mirror it as their foundation. So, it’s unsurprising to me that I had not taken cognisance of my triggers or understood how I had been really feeling until I found myself slowly sinking. I knew I was sinking because every thing started to feel impossible to accomplish.

There are a couple of projects that I’ve invested my time and effort into over the past couple of months. Suddenly, I felt as though I was failing at performing tasks, even the ones that had filled me with so much joy. This blog was the last thing on my mind. My patience was running thin and I was feeling inadequate in my capabilities of being whomever I am supposed to be at this moment in time. It felt as though I was drifting towards the middle of the ocean and sooner rather than later I would drown if I didn’t try to swim back to shore. “Are you going to sink or swim?” Is what I constantly asked myself.

I wasn’t sure how I would snap out of how I was feeling because I could feel this darkness hovering above me. The thing about having a child is that for the first time I know that I have to fight to stay afloat, I cannot give in to my perilous thoughts even when I feel as if there is no alternative. Positive thought is my daily mantra; especially when I drift into my pitfall. I live with my traumas daily, I am constantly reminded of my wounds even when I try to be oblivious to them. There are just scars that never heal, the kind that throb when you are minding your business or when the weather gets a bit gloomy. They tug at dormant parts of who you used to be and draw you back to the excruciating pain that you vowed to never experience again. When it was just me, it was easy to nurse those aching moments but now, I crash to the ground in agony while simultaneously caught in a rapture of love.

So, I hope that when you ask yourself “Are you going to sink or swim?”, that you have something or someone waiting for you by the shore. For me, it’s the sound of my daughter when she calls me and when she laughs that pulls me back from the things that haunt me even in my serene moments…

Starting Over…

I write this entry with an elated heart and mind. You see, a week ago I turned 30; I entered a new decade in my life that promises so much more for me and of me. Five years ago, I started a tradition of sort (perhaps I will pass it down to my child/ren one day). It entails doing a countdown to my birthday but with a twist, I start counting down from the number of days equivalent to how old I’ll be turning that year and then each day is dedicated to something (positive or negative) that I have either learned, willing to let go of or grateful for from the previous year. I hope I am making sense with my explanation πŸ™ˆ
So, as a result of this tradition of mine, I genuinely look forward to the days leading up to my birthdays because I get to unpack myself to myself (if that makes sense). I get to introspect, atone with my soul, change/let go of those parts I dislike about myself or have no use of anymore and then I prepare for whatever it is that the new year will bring my way. Depending on the lessons that I get from my purging, I then create a theme that I tend to focus my energies on for that year.

This year I had 30 days of rummaging through a decade of experiences, mistakes and lessons. I went back to when I entered my 20s; a broken girl with trauma weighing heavy on her shoulders. I remembered how even though I was in so much pain with a constant need to end my life, I was the life of the party. That was the irony of my life for most of my twenties, I was a broken girl who gave life to everyone around her. I poured from an empty cup, I have no idea how but I did.

My late twenties however were all about healing, putting back some of the pieces of who I was and who I was trying to become. I thought about the possibilities of my future again (after a very long time), I toyed around with the idea of having a family of my own but never committing to anything that needed me to be vulnerable. I was strong; I had to be strong and I draped myself in pseudo strength most times even when all I yearned for was to crack open and lay my brokenness at my feet for everyone to witness.
Somehow, I had figured out how to pack my troubles far away and I became a sanctuary for everyone around me, even when I was drowning. That is how I coped with my mental breakdowns; I anchored myself in the lives of the people I loved. I gave pieces of myself in whichever way I could. I’m also inclined to believe that what was my strength was also my weakness; I was trying to save everyone else but the person who needed it the most – me.

The past year has been a whirlwind of emotions; I have cried more in the past year than I had in the past decade. I remember how I cried for hours after realising that I was pregnant. I cried for myself more than anything, I felt as if the universe was patting me on the back and had finally accepted my worthiness and gifted me true love in human form as a reward for persevering through all the odds that were stacked against me. Even though deep down I feared making a mess of being someone’s mother, I vowed that I would do everything in my power to be the best that I can be for the both of us.

More than a year later, I am able to look back and see what an incredible person I am, what a phenomenal mother I have been to my baby and the kind of partner and friend I have grown to be. I am reminded of a poem by John Paul Moore Drinking From The Saucer and I am in awe of just how much my cup has overflowed and how much it keeps on filling up so that I may continue to pour myself when I am needed.
I have entered a new decade with so much awareness, intention and determination in every aspect of my life and I am grateful to that young girl who never gave up, no matter how many punches life threw at her. The girl I was and the woman I am now have finally sat down to become acquainted.

A Reflection…

Lately, I am reminded of a poem by Rudy Francisco;
“My mother wears her wrinkles
The way an ocean wears a wave
She is the only body of water
To refuse my drowning”
I think about the last two lines of this poem a lot whenever I think of the differences between my mother and I.
She, a quiet and gentle woman, who loves to laugh and to please everyone. Then there’s me.
Bold, outspoken, my laugh sounds more like a cackle rather than anything decent and I am not moved by anyone’s opinion(s) of me.

I think about how I don’t know my mother very much because she never had the chance to raise me. I feel like there will always be a distance in our relationship that will always have us feeling like mismatched pieces of a puzzle at times. Our love is an awkward infusion of biology and what is right. There are days when I feel her refusing my drowning then there are days when I wonder if she knows how her circumstances eventually caused me to drown in my emotions for so many years. I even go as far as asking myself if she ever wanted children or perhaps she was just a victim of circumstances; an insignificant part of a society that didn’t allow women the freedom of choice.
I ask myself this because of a conversation I once had with my mother about how she almost became a teacher but she disliked children so much that she quit after a day.

Our relationship is more amiable than passionate, there are no warm hugs or kisses when we see each other after a long absence. I watch her with my daughter, I can see that she’s trying her best to show her affection and to kiss her at every chance that she gets. She is cracking the shell and getting out of her comfort zone. Sometimes, she looks at me with remorse filled eyes, as if to apologise for a warmth she was never around to give to me. Our silence is filled with understanding and regret, as if to bridge the gap that snapped when she gave birth to me.

I wonder if she envies the kind of mother that I get to be. Does she ever wish that life had allowed us to cuddle and take naps together the way my daughter and I do? I once read an article that emphasised the need for children to be nurtured by their mothers, how disrupting that mother-to-child bond could lead to detrimental behavioural challenges for the child at a later stage. A lot of things that I’ve grappled with in my life made sense that day. I remember how showing people that I love them used to scare me so much because it was something that I never experienced, if I did it was never from my mother in a physical form; we simply lack the familiarity to formulate a love language. I have always known that she loves me dearly but in theory and to feel that love manifested physically through her warm arms around me is still something I am yet to experience.

I sit and wonder what poems my daughter will think of when she remembers me.
Will she tell those that care to listen about how I was the only body of water that refused her drowning daily? Will she embrace love and share it openly because I taught her how to love herself fiercely first so that when they come into her life they know exactly what she expects?
So, today and every other day, I pray that we never have to fill the gaps between us with awkward apologies.

Who Am I?

It has been 8 whole months since I gave birth to my beautiful daughter. Time seems to have just flown by. It still feels like it was only just the other day that I held her in my arms for the first time. I cannot even begin to explain how that felt like; I still can’t fathom how perfect that moment was, nothing can ever compare.
Since then, my life has been quite the adventure that I never anticipated. Every day is just as spontaneous as the previous one but one thing that remains unchanged is the mornings; how my daughter looks at me as if she’s seeing me for the first time, she always smiles at me and it’s the most captivating yet simple thing that she does but it encapsulates everything that we feel for one another.

Motherhood has been a rollercoaster, a whirlwind of emotions to say the least and not forgetting the impromptu nights with no sleep just when I start getting into a relaxing nightly routine. I take it all. I sink myself into motherhood and shrink to my daughter’s size just so that I can try to walk in her shoes. That is a promise I made to her, before I even put a face to her existence; I vowed to be the kind of mother that I dreamed of and more. My life revolves around her. Since 16 March 2019 (The day that I confirmed my pregnancy), my life has not felt like my own. At first I was consumed by overwhelming emotions of having to bring a life into this world, a sometimes very cruel world I may add.

Then after giving birth, it felt like I was pushed further into a chasm of never ending first times. In hindsight I feel as though that is the moment that I somehow started drifting away; I let myself go (for lack of a better term). I don’t recognise the person that I wake up to see in the mirror each day. Sometimes I stare a little bit longer at this stranger who has taken over my life. I am amazed at how much things have changed, how I have changed in just over a year.
On what seems like a good thing; experiencing so much love and openly expressing it also feels like it’s overwhelming me because this is unfamiliar territory for me. For the longest time I held onto pain and I forgot how to be vulnerable. Now, my struggle is that the person that I used to be and the woman that I am becoming are finding it difficult to reach common ground. I constantly feel as though I have to play catch up with my emotions mostly and feel as if my emotions are pulling at different directions and failing to reach equilibrium.

It has taken me a lot to get to a point where I can write about how I feel without feeling guilty, without feeling as if I am complaining about being a mother to my beautiful and lovable daughter.
Recently, I have taken strides towards restarting my life because for the past year and four months it feels like my life has been put on pause. My youthfulness forcefully plucked from a promising reality and now in the limbo of lost dreams. I have lost sense of where I begin and where the mother in me ends; is a mother all that I am now? How do I reclaim myself without feeling as if I am neglecting the one person that I am responsible for?

I feel as though I still have to get to know myself all over again because I have gained new parts in comparison to the woman I was before I found out I was pregnant. I was a social butterfly in my own way, I drank a good beer as many times as I wanted at any time of the day, I smoked and really enjoyed having my blunts in the stillness of the night. I haven’t done any of these things and more in over a year and in as much as I crave the tingling, fuzzy and relaxing sensation of a cold beer touching my lips before taking a swig of it; it is just not worth the pumping and dumping that will happen afterwards. On a brighter note; I am officially disgusted by smoking and I am your new judge Judy!

Figuring out who I am now goes beyond just imagining how I will socialise when the world opens up again, I need to assimilate into this woman, to morph the best parts of the old me with the new me.
For as long as I try my utmost best to acknowledge the positive things about my motherhood journey, I cannot shun the once distorted past that was a catalyst for the mother I am always pushing myself to be each and every day.

For now, I will continue to ask myself “Who Am I?”…

I Think…

I may have just about reached the zen stage of parenting. Possibly a tad bit prematurely if I may add but I have definitely found peace amidst the chaos that comes with a very short and adorable human dragging and pulling everything in their way. My niece (15) comes into our room and has a panic attack when she sees my baby playing with (more like dismantling) her box of wipes or nappies or sometimes everything she can manage to grab with those tiny hands.

I stopped worrying or getting worked up by what she will do next when one day I found myself telling her to stop ransacking everything more than 5 times in 10 minutes. It was one day too many. I couldn’t see myself having to do that more than I had in that space of time. I figured the only thing I needed to do moving forward was to keep a close eye on her, watch what she grabs and ensure that she is safe no matter what. Her safety is always my ultimate responsibility and priority. I figured that the rest, a big mess is what will naturally come with having a child.

She is experiencing the world for the first time, she is curious and is discovering the world through touching whatever she comes across. I have made peace with trailing behind her as she makes her messes, as she makes sense of what her world is to her and lights up in excitement when she finds a new corner to rummage through in the house. I look at her and I am reminded of something that I read about how children are free spirits who love bravely with creativity dwelling within them. I cannot advocate to raise a happy and carefree black girl if I restrict her spirit when she is this young. She must know that her parents will always be there to pick her up, to help her clean her mess and that she can trust us to hold her hand whenever she wants to pursue anything.

However, there will come a time when her safety becomes her responsibility and priority, I pray that I would have done my best to equip her for the world in whatever shape or form when that time comes.

For now though, I look forward to the many adventures with my little trooper. To getting my hands dirty and running after her as she giggles away. Just hearing the sound of her laughter is what gives me peace and fulfills hidden corners in my heart..

A Reminder…

When my daughter looks at me, I want her to be in awe of how a woman so carefree, so loving, so happy and determined gets to raise her. I want her to see me breakdown and pick myself up again. I never want her to think that being a black woman is just another euphemism for strong, that love needs to be laboured for it to mean something or that struggle should be a tagline for her to be worthy of her praises.

There were times when I daydreamed about the kind of mother I would be and I wondered if my daughter would ever find solace in my presence. I worried about whether my traumatic past would be a burden that would weigh heavier on her unknowing shoulders and I would sometimes weep at the thought of bringing a life to bear witness to all that I felt was dreadful about me. Yet, here I am now and I get to witness this incredibly put together woman (scars and all) mothering this almost 8 month old girl and I am astonished. I get a chance to do this my way. She gets the best parts of me and I couldn’t be happier.

This is what I thought of when our helper commented about how my daughter is spoiled just because I find humour in her little teeth biting me and when she laughs when I tell her to stop biting me. Apparently, I should shout at her to instill fear so that she stops doing it again. I ought to be stern with her to discipline her is what she continued to say to me when I objected to her suggestions. I would never raise my voice at my daughter. Her father and I decided long before she was born that we would never raise our voices when talking to our daughter; I watch and correct anyone who does this to her. I’ve never understood the notion of shouting at babies who don’t even understand the why behind the reaction.

There are some traumas from my childhood that stem from how adults around me expressed their displeasure with me. In hindsight, I wish there had been someone who was kinder and was able to explain to me why I shouldn’t have done certain prohibited things instead of being shouted at or gotten a beating while not knowing the lesson. I vowed to find alternative solutions to parenting my child/ren, to always teach them the lesson and explain why we ought to do things a certain way. I was met with some contemptuous ridicule at home when I downright said that I don’t want anyone raising their voice to my daughter.

More than anything, I feel as though I can’t teach my daughter lessons on being kind, compassionate and respectful to herself and others if I do not lead by example. I ought to treat her like a human in her own right as she grows into herself with each passing moment. Seeing her doesn’t start when she’s a teenager and grappling with the many troubles that the world may bring to her. It starts now; when she is learning to stand on her own, when she doesn’t like the food I make for her today, when she gives me wet kisses and pushes me away when I try to bite her chubby cheeks.

I will always try my best to ensure that in future she never looks back and wishes that I had been a kinder, loving and more playful mom. I need her to drown in my presence and to walk tall knowing that this mom; who is black, loving, kind, weak at times, carefree and who laughs from her belly is the best woman who ever loved her unconditionally.

A Poem For My Daughter

You are my Sunshine
The only thing that I feel I ever did right in this life
You light up my life
A furnace that warms up the forgotten, dark and cold parts of the me that I think I used to be

You changed me
Rather, I found the courage to rearrange those distorted parts of me to create a mosaic that glimmers with just these newfound memories of you
Now, I walk around with the heaviness of a million butterflies in my stomach

You see, before you I thought I knew what love was, what loving someone meant, what being loved felt like
You are the light that shines over my horizon before the Sun sets
Your voice is a melody I can never compose again; it is satisfying

The grasp of your hands feels like the glue that binds my soul to the afterlife
This love anchors me
This love nourishes me so I can nurture you
I gave birth twice on that rainy afternoon
I gave you life and I birthed love into my life
I no longer want strength to define me –
For you, I need to be vulnerable

I have finally found the light at the end of the tunnel
Handpicked the flowers that my lonely tears watered; I need you to smell the roses every single day and twice on a Sunday
You are my altar
All my unanswered prayers summed into one
You are a culmination of my existence
The closest thing to Perfect
What just enough is
You are what my love is

You are the light of my life
The Sun rising at the break of dawn
Your laughter is the warmth that engulfs our home; it beckons me out of the dark
You light up my life
You are the fire that burns inside me

My darling, you are my Sunshine

Nosipho Ntshangase

New Beginnings

The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all – Walt Disney

Welcome to my new blogging site. I have decided that it would be best for me to change my blogging site to WordPress instead of Tumblr. It is easier for myself and anyone who would like to carry on following my blog.

However, due to the timelines of my posts on Tumblr, I will not be migrating my previous blog posts to here. I will start this new site with the last post that I uploaded on my other blog (the poem to my daughter) and leave the other blog open to anyone who would still like to read on Tumblr.

I hope that the new user experience will be much better and it will make following my blog easier moving forward.

Thank you for taking the time to grow into my motherhood journey with me🌻. We still have plenty of milestones to get through and life is yet to be more colourful than we had anticipated.