It takes a village-Raising your child and parenting doubts.

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It takes a village-Raising your child and parenting doubts.

For the past 9 months, I have been having the time of my life raising our little blessing. Also, for the past 9 months, I’ve had numerous cases of self-doubt. I kept wondering if I have what it takes to raise a healthy and happy child. Public advise and opinions haven’t helped decrease that doubt.

The one thing I love about being black is our sense of community. It is the one principle that makes us who we are. The moment the word is out about a funeral at home, you know you don’t have to go around asking people to help. You’ll have people flooding to your house offering a hand, cleaning, serving guests, or preparing food the night before the funeral. Its unsolicited help but it is greatly appreciated. I remember a white colleague talking about this after attending a friend’s family funeral. She kept seeing people coming in an out with sugar, oil, mealie meal etc. and she loved what she saw.

Our sense of community is evident in various parts of our lives. As a mom, I have realized that our child has many moms. I once visited my uncle’s church in the East Rand. As soon as we walked in, Tshimo was out of my arms. The lady sitting behind us said “Ngicela ungi boleke yena”. This means “please lend me your daughter” as if she is a toy. The one minute she was with that lady and the next she is three rows behind me- getting passed around like a rugby ball. I was a rugby player with other people’s children before I became a mom. Newborn babies are cute and cuddly, so I got why people always jumped for mine.

One of the many ladies that held my baby had one of her own. Her boy was walking and almost talking. Side note: Tshimo was only 4 months old and her son was almost 2 years old. He was drinking formula that was clearly for children his age. She asked what seemed to be an innocent question, and I innocently replied.

Her: ‘Does she feed on a bottle”

Me: “No, not yet”

Her: “Oh, let me see”.

Me:

I immediately jumped in and blocked the bottle from entering my daughter’s mouth. A 2-year old’s formula cannot be fed to a 4-month-old. It cannot. It just can’t. CAN NOT! I spoke about this in my previous blog.

I don’t think she realized what that did to me as a new mom. I was questioning my decision to exclusively breastfeed. I considered putting her on formula just in case that is how it is done. There is always a big debate around breastfeeding and formula feeding. I found myself facing that challenge. But why should I change my decisions based on another woman’s experience? I was blessed enough with a partner that kept reassuring me that I was doing great, and now and again, it worked.

Not only was she questioning my decision to not formula feed, she went on to ask why I am not allowing her to play on the ground alone. Please note that we are in a church and the floor is not wooden or carpeted. She also asked why she isn’t sitting on her own yet. Her exact response to my reasoning was: “looks like your baby is gonna give you problems when she grows up”. I was not in the best of moods when I left the church that Sunday.

The concept of spoiling is a big thing, especially in the black community. I received conflicting information about whether or not to coddle my baby or comfort her when she was clearly unhappy. A lot of moms advised me to teach her independence from an early age, and a very few moms told me that the concept of spoiling does not exist for a couple of months.

A few weeks ago I attended a family event. The baby was surrounded by a lot of people who all wanted a turn to hold her. She became overwhelmed, rightly so. So in turn, she did not want to be held by anyone else but me. So for the rest of the day, I kept hearing:

“You spoiled the baby”

“Your baby hates people”

“Why do you coddle her so much”

You really have a problem child”

“How do you even go out with her”

“You need to get her used to people, especially family”

To me, that’s code for: “You are doing a crappy job at this”

The community baby is a good baby. She is adored by everyone and raised by everyone. The community baby, though, is not yours alone, so you aren’t allowed to make decisions about your child on your own. I make them nonetheless, but with that comes a lot of resentment from the community.

I write this to rid myself of the guilt that comes with having to tell people “thanks, but no thanks”. As much as we need people around us to help us when needed, we also need to be given the independence to make decisions on how I’ll raise my children and when to start our children on solids.

We all have different ways in which we raise our children. Baby Dove SA ran a campaign they coined #RealMom and #RealDad. The main objective of this campaign was to emphasize that perfect parents do not exist. Trying to implement every unsolicited advise we receive from people around is trying to be a perfect parent, which is impossible. I’ve learned to do what feels right for me. At the end of the day, this is my daughter and her wellbeing is my responsibility. So moms, if your child is growing, healthy and happy, pat your self on the shoulder, you are doing a great job (self-talk).

For now, thank you for sharing this journey with me 🙂

Written by: Karabo Motsiri

Edited by: Thando Bella Khoza

24 Comments

  1. Linda Sasa says:

    Every baby is different as with every pregnancy. But as the black community we are the opposite of supportive especially when we feel that our ‘well intended advise’ isnt headed. When the last 2 arrived I remember the collective saying you shouldn’t hold them so much as ‘bazojwayela izandla’ I remember saying well there are a lot of people in the house, so there are plenty of hands to go around.
    Trusting your instincts as a mom is a vital skill, trust it. God placed it there for a reason. I remember telling my sister that you put people’ advise through multiple filters & decide for yourself if it’s something you want to apply.

    • admin says:

      “Put it through multiple filters”. I love that. I had to learn to do that too. The honest truth is that we receive good advise sometimes, and sometimes you are told not to spoil a human being that requires your entire attention. I have therefore learned to take what I feel is helpful, and sideline what is not, even if that comes with heavy criticism.

  2. Dawn Barnard says:

    Great website Karabo, well said. Keep up the good work and God bless you and your family. xxx

  3. Soso says:

    I love this

  4. Maleseli says:

    This so good friend. You are great at this. Nna what I will always tell myself is that we are the best moms ever created. Whatever you feel is best for your child, do it?.

  5. Hajjarah says:

    Best mum I know…mummies always know what’s best for their babies me loving u so much hun.

  6. Busi Gumede says:

    That’s a very good topic, u pointed facts that we normally ignore as mothers. Fear is always there and with it u might take bad advice it’s good to listen to your instinct. If u r wrong it’s fine we all learn by mistakes there is no perfect parent. Love your block keep it up Karabo u r the best mother.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for reading 🙂

      You mentioned something so important, instinct. I really believe we immediately get this and that is what helps us navigate motherhood. Thank you for the reassurance. It is good to know that I am not crazy.

  7. Zinhle says:

    Your baby will not always be a baby, there’ll come a time where she doesn’t want cuddling anymore, so do all the cuddling you need right now. It doesn’t make sense how people say things like, “you spoil your baby, she needs to know other people, how do you go out”…babies grow, soon she’ll be walking soon, playing outside…just enjoy her.

    • admin says:

      Enjoying every single second.

      We all have different approaches to parenting, and there is really absolutely nothing wrong with that. At the end of the day, we all do what works for us. If what works for another mom is not coddling their 2-day old baby, then so be it.

  8. Phindile says:

    It has even went to the extent of people, especially family disregarding my child because well i choose to raise him different to what they feel is a norm and i am okay with that … i am great mum and everyday he is alive and healthy i am reassured of that.

  9. Phindile says:

    my comments are not getting posted – i laugh this one does

  10. Zinhle says:

    Baby will not be so much of a baby in the next two year…cuddle her all you want.

  11. Nthabi Phama says:

    Your pregnancy and motherhood journey has been so amazing makes this journey absolutely worth it.

    You did well👏 your blog is so genuinely interesting

  12. Lee says:

    Absolutely love this! Ive learned to be quite about advising new mom on their babies. Like put yourself in their shoes, they’re not sure about what they doing and need constant reassurance. All badies have a clingy phase, it happens, I’m not sure why family usually feels like they should attack a mother’s parenting because of a natural phase. Anyway I really enjoy reading your bloggs love. ❤️

    • admin says:

      Thank you for reading love.

      True. I stray away from advising a mom, especially if unsolicited. We all don’t know what the hell we are doing, especially with the first baby.

  13. Vuyelwa says:

    This is so beautiful! You sharing your experience as a new mom. Thank you for sharing and also teaching us to trust in ourselves, I now trust and know that i will be a good mom no self doubt.

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