MEET STHEMBILE SHABANGU


Tell us about the day your children were born.

Pholile - fondly known as Phopho, she turned 16 in  June. Phopho is very gentle and is my partner in crime. She has been around the longest so i feel like she is like always been there. I have learnt a lot about me and being a mother from just raising her.

Phopho helped a lot with my raising the young girls. Her advice as well as her playing babysitter has been of great help to me. She loves netball and plays in the A-team at school. Our special activity is cooking, baking and shopping. Phopho loves to bake and it is always a special moment when we do that together. But I'm sure if you were to ask Pholile what her favourite thing to do it would be shopping.

Zoe - She's the creative one and is turning 10 in October. She's very creative in spirit yet she is academic as well. She loves music and fashion. All she wants to do when she finishes school is to travel and own an apartment in New York. She has been identified as gifted and attends a school for the gifted. She is also the household's entertainer. Zoe loves the outdoors and thats where she is in her element. Zoe really enjoys my driving her to school (which is really rare due to my schedule) so if I take her to school I try and make it feel really special. After dropping her off, I take her to class and I'll hang around a bit.

Tsomane - Fondly known as Tsomi is 3 turning 4 next year February. She is into the digital world. Thats tablets, laptop and phones all she wants to do is play on my Ipad - she refers to it as her Pipad. She is the baby of the house and is very active and loves  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Tsomi loves just being with her "Tembile" and i know if i can just give her my Ipad and let her lie on my tummy or feet , she is so happy and she gives me these random kisses which are just priceless. 

Work/life balance advice.

People always ask me how I do it, my answer is simple - just do it. Unfortunately I am the only parent who is financially responsible for the girls at the moment and that alone drives me. Motivating me daily to work harder.  I  also encourage my kids to spend quality time with their fathers (Pholile and Zoe share a dad, while Tsomi has her own father). Just recently I also started my own business because I felt like the salary was not enough.  I had to cut down on lots of luxuries including selling my car and my previous house. Overall I pretty much had to scale down on almost everything. The only thing that remained unchanged was my daughter;s schools.  Because they had pretty much lost and had to adjust to a lot I wanted there to be at least one other constant. The fact that they are consulted on a lot of the decision making helped. Every month we'd negotiate on what to let go and then I'd make sure to budget and spoil them now and again. 


Growing up came with my having to accept who I am and and as a result I am so in touch with my sanity. I have days when I just want my space. On these days I'd take the girls to either of their fathers's homes or to my mothers. Pholile & Zoe's aunt are very supportive both emotionally and financially and if she takes the kids to holiday or buys clothes for them, she does so for all 3. I am really grateful to God for that woman.  If I need to recover from exhaustion mainly from work, I sit the girls down and explain to them that I need to "reboot" and they have grown to understand that means "mummy's time". In fact they end up insisting I stay in bed and that they'll run the house independently. In order to maintain some kind of work life balance it also helps that I subscribe to the ideology that kids are raised by a village. I have a very strong support structure. Thats my mom, both the dads, my friends and I have also been blessed with a great nanny and a very supporting partner. Without them I would go crazy. 



Adjusting to motherhood has been …

Amazing.  I literally adopted my niece when she was born 20 years ago so I have been a mother for over 20 years now. It feels natural. I must admit, with every child I have grown as a person and I can't even remember my life before I was a mother. I love being a mother and I think if someone asked me to describe myself, I'd first mention motherhood. I am grateful to God for choosing me to be the mother to my kids, I feel blessed and willing to serve him through my children. 


How  have you and your partner split the parenting responsibilities?

I wish I had a partner who I could alternate with when it comes to having the kids. I am studying and have a very demanding business so sometimes I wish I had the option of having the kids stay with their father. I wish I had someone who not only contributed financially but emotionally as well, someone to help run errands, attend school meetings with, plan school trips and who could run around emergencies, etc



How would you describe your parenting style? 

I would like to think I have evolved from the old school strict mom to one who's a little bit more   liberal. I believe we need to be very involved with our children in order to understand their world. This doesn't mean I want to be their friends but I am raising girls and want them to trust me as their mother and have them see me as their first point of contact for facing life in general. My wish is to empower my daughters to be able to stand up for themselves, be it peer pressure, drugs, crime, etc. I respect them as unique individuals and I believe my role is to ignite them and help each of them reach their full potential without comparison. 



How would you describe your partners parenting style?

Wish I could relate but unfortunately I don't have this luxury.

Whats been the most surprising aspect of motherhood? 

I have transformed from a very strict mom to be softie. The fact that I am insistent about the girls using our indigenous language at home surprised me as well. However I realise that it is my responsibility as a mother to instill pride in them of our African culture and to ensure that even though English is a first language for the girls at school that when they come home they use and respect our home language. Besides, I also get tired of speaking English sometimes so its a win win.

How would you describe your home? 

I would like to think of my home as warm, full of noise and accompanied by the beautiful aroma of home cooked meals. I made it a point to raise my kids in a home where they'd be free to be who they are. Home is their sanctuary. I love cooking over a glass of wine and I also enjoy hosting. Our house is filled with love and one day when they are all older, I want them to remember that they can always come home and surround themselves with that same love and enjoy great food.

Your Parenting Philosophy? 

I believe that every child is unique. I am very hard on the girls making sure to encourage them to look after each other when I am not around.  I know that with the age gap they'll want to be away from each other but I am hoping to instil a tight knit feeling of sisterhood that will sustain them when I am no longer around. As a mother even though I am no longer married I strongly encourage my kids to see their dads and their extended family, again this for me gives them a form of identity and will hopefully help them grasp that even though we might no longer be together, thats their Dads and I, we both love them.  By encourage the relationship they also gain knowledge of both our cultures something that I believe is key to their upbringing. 




What do you want most for children?  

This is a beautiful question.
I want to ensure that my children are well educated, that they finish school and be independent. Nothing beats education and I am an example of that and I make sure to tell them this all the time. I want them to know that their future is secure.
I also want the girls to know that they need to be content with themselves first before seeking contentment from anywhere else.  I want my children to respect people regardless of their background and always approach life with humility. But I also want them to have loads of fun, they are children after all.  I guess what I want the most for my kids is for them to always know that they are loved and cherished. That because they are human, they will make mistakes but they should dust themselves off and soldier on.

Parenting advice

The  greatest advise I ever received was,

"You are only human and you must live your life the only way you know how. Be at peace with every step you take." 

I am not perfect and far from being any kind of superwoman. People tend to judge you on certain things and sometimes its on your parenting style. I appreciate a lot of the advice and support given to me but I do me and as long as I can be at peace with my decisions I am happy. My advice to all parents especially single mothers is, embrace help. Kids need healthy and happy parents, don't try kills yourself for the sake of your kids. Have fun with your friends sometimes, date if you ready, have that glass of wine. Just be!

Check out the blog again for a peek into the life of yet another JOHO MOM. 
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JOHO MOMS is about bringing motherhood into a relatable, inspiring and aspiring space. I wanted to create a space where mothers felt safe enough to share their respective challenges, their highlights as well as our parenting philosophies to fellow newbies. If you'd like to share your story please email johomoms@gmail.com - Our passions, spaces and children

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