Growing up, I had always envisioned how my life would pan out.
From moving to Johannesburg to work as a journalist and making a name for myself in the industry, to having a child just before I turned 30, with a loving partner who supported my demanding career.
What I did not anticipate, was that I would become a long-distance mother, leaving a village to raise our child.
Our son, Leano, meaning “plan” in Northern Sotho and Setswana, our home languages, is our pride and joy. His smile and personality bring life to any room. At the time of our son’s birth, my partner fell ill and lost his job.
I was not earning enough as a journalist to support all three of us. This had a direct impact on how we were going to raise our child and provide for him.
Living in Johannesburg is not cheap, especially when you want to give your child the “best”, including a decent nursery school and a reliable and trustworthy nanny. This was near impossible to achieve on our income.
So we decided that Leano would be raised by my family in Kimberley, until we were in a better financial position. Naturally, this was a difficult decision for my partner and I, as we were raised by divorced mothers and wanted to give our little one the privilege of living with both his parents.
But my family love Leano, and have done a sterling job raising him. He attends a good school and is a healthy, happy child, who loves PJ Masks, rockets, spaceships and cars. Navigating parenthood from afar has been one of my greatest challenges.
Some days are easy to get through. On other days, I am riddled with guilt, and it feels as if a chunk of me is missing.
The other challenge we have encountered is that instilling discipline in a child who is raised by their grandmother, and is used to getting away with anything, can sometimes feel like filling a bottomless cup. What you say only goes until you leave, then it is back to “nice times” with granny.
Among other things, our mischievous beloved has broken his aunt’s 42″ plasma TV with a can of deodorant; tossed a stone against his grandmother’s rear windscreen; and landed in the emergency room after shoving a pine tree seed up his nostril.
We have expressed our gratitude to my family for the job they are doing, and appreciate that we have a platform to share what we would like for him. Things don’t always go accordingly, but the village has done well so far.
During our last visit at home, we saw him offer his seat to our friends’ daughter, and share his juice with her. It is those moments that remind me, time and time again, that he is doing just fine.
There is no secret recipe to being a good parent and doing the best you can for your child. Sacrifices will always need to be made, and these differ for everyone.
Parenting is difficult, and embracing the chaos it comes with is one sure way to help you keep it together and weather the storm.