Call Your Mom

Mother’s Day is in the same month as Workers’ Day – and boy can we feel it! 

And you know what’s funny? Father’s Day being in the same month as Youth Month… let me not digress.

I’ve recently been very contemplative. I hear this happens a lot after you turn 30. I’ve been thinking a lot about all the ways I have been mothered, we’ve been traumatised by motherhood and we’ve censored ourselves because we want to be prim and proper and fit into this dog eat dog man’s world. 

Being mothered throughout my own life by my Aunts, Grandmothers, my mother, my teachers, my friend’s mothers, my mom in law, my mentors, work mothers… I could go on. 

I would often wonder where this voice that would utter “Whooo this one thinks she’s my mother” would come from… as someone would remind me that they loved me or as someone triggered in me someone that spoke to how I was mothered or would cover me the way a mother would.

We’re only as wise as our experiences and we only question our own points of reference right? 

And Our points of references tend to be from how we were mothered right? 

I sometimes wonder if some of us understand that motherhood and the point of reference of motherhood does come from our individual experiences.

We can recreate these experiences and share them in the world in the most beautiful way.

So this year on the 12th of February, my middle son’s birthday, I took part in the Midmar Mile. I don’t think he forgives me for stealing his shine on that day. 

I’ve been swimming as exercise for a while but had literally decided in October 2021 that it’s time to hit the open water for the first time since I’d left high school. I trained, worked on my stroke correction, bought enough swimming costume and gear to suss out which would be best and most comfortable in open water. I did my best time in the swimming pool, smashing my own personal best just a week before Midmar at about 36 minutes for a mile.

Amazing right!!!!??

It’s Midmar day and Hubby along with the kids are all there. 

The kids are in the water playing on the edge of the river, it’s a jovial and exciting energy and vibe in the air. I’m both excited and nervous as I await my girlfriends who we’re also partaking in the mile. They arrived and we got through registration. The nerves start edging off and the adrenaline starts kicking in and I tell my friends almost telling myself too “guys if we view this as another practice and we just focus on getting to the other side, we’ll be fine.”

We all nod, set our smart watches to begin the race and off we go. 

If I tell you the many feelings that occur in that water…

The journey in that choppy water… shuuu…

So hear me out… I had trained in a swimming pool. It was me against my watch and the lanes. Here… it was me chasing down the end buoy/marker. And trying to stay on course and trying to not get pushed down or back by any current (whether life saver boats or even the choppy water caused by other swimmers).

I had no choice but to keep my head down, only lifting my head to ensure I wasn’t getting off course, and swim. Staying balanced and on top of the water was key. Too low, too much resistance. 

Then half way, I caught a cramp in my leg. I had no choice but to do breaststroke at this point. 

With every wave, I’d try to catch it under and then come up for breath, until the cramp eased then I’d bolt into breaststroke again. 

The water itself was so peaceful, amazing and solemn. Just me and my God and the choppy water until one swimmer bolted passed and then another and another and another and…

And then I was like surely I’m being left behind here and I’m coming in last… Hayibo! 

4 of us started together, 2 of my girls had swam and gotten ahead and the other was just behind me. Own pace, my own race I kept telling myself. And surely it’s only been 15min… and I know my mile time.

I arrived on the other side and as I got out the water and the announcer rang out my time, Olwethu Leshabane coming in at 77mins – I wanted to collapse with relief, and shock. 77min.

My legs wanted to give way – more from the exhaustion of trudging through choppy water for over an hour. 

I could liken it to those gruelling hours of labour where you felt like shuuu finally it’s done! 

Ummm… you said what? Baby weighs what? 

And he came out of me???

I could liken that journey to my motherhood journey… it’s been helluva choppy. At times I thought I got this, I’ve done it twice in a different condition, yes… 

And realising, it’s different conditions each time.

My Midmar journey reminds me of the many times I watched moms do well, excel, push forward, get their c-suite positions and I thought I was lagging and falling behind and I’d forgotten my own journey and my own training. 

I did not train in the river, I trained in the swimming pool and expected a similar result.

I mentioned earlier the many people on my journey that mothered me and formed part of what my perspective of motherhood is and is still to become. 

Post Midmar, as a group of us gathered for a braai and reflections, we all compared notes but the one conclusion we all came to was “Ya no guys… there’s no one strategy… you’ve just got to stay fit and know that you will get to the other side if you just keep swimming”

Many of us are traumatised daughters raising our own children and motherhood has either become a cycle of burden, tediousness or overcompensation.

Some of us were mothered well but our needs were not met and our expectations of what motherhood is and how to meet our children’s ever changing needs are quite strenuous.

In a conversation with a dear friend, we shared that we need to deeply interrogate the idea that “our parents did the best with what they had and therefore we should too.” 

No we should not.

When I completed my Midmar Journey, I was met by my excited 3 boys on the other side – they had been cheering me on as I emerged from the water. 

We may not have meters in the river, and we need not but perspective is crucial. The more mothers we tap into, the wider a network we have as mothers and the more we hold space for each other in all space, without judgement, the better each of our perspectives are.

We are raising humans that have to work with each other and be cogs in this society. This means we must also acknowledge certain things… our mental health, our struggles, our pains… we have to acknowledge how the past two years have taken a beating on our mental health as moms… At this very point, We have a very hurt and broken society in South Africa because of unaddressed wounds, hurts and traumas. 

We need mothers and mothers who are actively working on their healing. And what I also know for sure is that through storytelling, we heal and heal each other. Today, call a mom and ask her about her story. Ask her for her perspective.

What building AoS and the AoS community has taught me is that it is not only the moms I find myself drawn to that enhance me, correct me and thrust me forward, it is the women I least likely to be drawn to I needed to start connecting with and hearing their stories and we started healing each other to the other side. 

In a world that teaches us that business lessons and lessons in advancing one’s career, how to view politics and how to climb up the social ladder, one must call on men, they should have the guiding path. I challenge that notion. 

Can we all agree that successful organisations have leaders that thrive on empathy, kindness, fairness, collaboration and vulnerability?

Yup… the world out there is changed by individuals like you and I and organisational values need people like you and I to thrive right? Why don’t we as mothers take these values home with us? Or do we? 

Times are changing – Today, success in anything, work, life and everything in between depends on what our mothers have been traditionally trying to teach us – to be vulnerable, to be fair, to be collaborative and to be kind.

Allow yourself room to fall apart and be picked up. When you feel that ha-ah I’m not okay, call a mom.

I also implore all of us to be the mothers we need – to hold space advocate, be gentle with one another, be quick to forgive, encourage one another’s growth and respect each other’s boundaries.

In the conversation with Nonkanyiso Conco, popularly known as LaConco from the hit Real Housewives of Durban show, we delved into this dynamic of letting each other be and holding space for each other as women without preempting an outcome. We are all healing and tapping into the parts of us that need healing, but being invasive and quick to cast judgement does everyone a disservice in the motherhood community. 

Let’s dismantle this strong ideology because we don’t all have the same training. I don’t know what I don’t know. We’re not all pro swimmers in this game of life. But we’re trying damn hard. We’re here to fulfil our mission, clock our time, on our terms and fulfil each of our God given mandates and at the end we all want to say, with these shaky legs, sore shoulders and racing heart… “I did that!”

If today you find yourself a huge success, you’ve ticked life’s boxes and you can proudly say “I did that! I’m killing this motherhood and life thing” – call your mom and thank her. 

If you still sit here today and you feel like you are struggling mentally, spiritually, parentally (I made that one up)… call your mom, then call A mom and gain some perspective you’ve been looking for! And listen well. 

We’re all on this long road, swimming past or being swam past… 

I have recently partnered with early learning non-profit Smart Start, to empower parents and caregivers to play an active role in their children’s education, especially in the early learning years. As one of South Africa’s most notable parenthood content creators, I will use my platform to amplify and help raise awareness around the importance of learning for children aged three to five years old. This is particularly exciting for me as I’ve also noticed how the parts of me that need the most healing as a mom are the parts I packed away as a child. That child needs healing and to be revived, and both my children and I have collaborated in their upbringing and my healing – PLAY. The other aspect of this is that with children learning and learning well, moms can participate in the economy and earn. 

“To be strong does not mean to sprout muscles and flex. It means meeting one’s own numinosity without fleeing, actively living with the wild nature in one’s own way. It means to be able to learn, to be able to stand what we know. It means to stand and live.”