MEET OLWETHU MLAWU


Tell us about the day your son was born.

My son was born in PE on 15 May 2003. I was 17 had taken a week off school. He looked exactly like his 3dscan at 56 cm because according to the Doctor, he was going to be a tall guy. I had a natural birth with epidural but I was on a "schedule". My labour was induced because I was in matric and supposed to have him in time to write my exams. He came out and looked at all of us. He took a long pause before he cried, in a strange way his personality has mirrored that since. 

His personality...

He’s a thinker, likes working out the odds of things before acting on anything. He loves mathematics, reading, chess and swimming. Playing Xbox games. His favourite game is Minecraft. It's a construction game and the goal of the game is to collect raw materials and build 3d environment or anything you can imagine in order to survive the unknown world. He loves his friends but in small doses. He’s almost 12 now and his confidence is growing. There are also slight changes to his personality now as he approaches his teen years. He likes his space. He loves food, doesn’t discriminate, eats everything and asks for seconds, Boys can eat! You’d be shocked at how much!

Work/life balance advice.

I’m a single mother working in the advertising industry full time and as a model part time. I thank goodness for my live-in helper, she’s  become my support at home. When I have late nights and early  mornings at work, she’s there making sure there’s dinner and communicating openly with me whenever she has any concerns. I’m going back to school this year so things will get a little trickier. Inam’s father has never participated or assisted and I’ve been a single mom since he was born. My son understands the concept of working, he gets that the things we want don’t just appear.

My family is in PE so the option was to either leave my son with them and come to JHB, work and study while I mothered through visitation and that didn’t sit well with me, so I chose to do it all by myself, we visit the family a few times a year and he spends the longer school holidays there which allows me to have guilt free alone time. It’s not easy, but I prefer it this way. We have our own time together, weekend getaways and the last was in Sun City where we had a blast! Gaming, quad biking, bumper boating and eating lots of junk food and buffets for 3 days. I have to make a conscious effort to ensure we have our time together, in between all the madness.




Adjusting to motherhood has been …

In the beginning no two days were the same. He was an unpredictable toddler, five minute silences from him indicated trouble. I had an internal auto timer that knew when that five minutes was up. He was great for my reflexes I could catch anything from any angle, including him. We had long conversations a while before he could speak.
I’ve had 11 years to get adjusted so I barely remember not being a mom. He’s a considerate child, divinely made for me, he’s so intuitive and cultured.

How have you and your partner split the parenting responsibilities?

I'm in a relationship but it's waaay to early so it's just the lil' guy and I. 

How would you describe your parenting style?

I’ve tried to instil the basic principles of respect and responsibility rooted in our Christian values. Similar to the way I was brought up. He does his chores and is not crippled by the assistant we have at home. She’s been instrumental in helping me manage this, ensuring he washes his lunch box, makes his bed, and cleans up after himself because the home assistant is my assistant, not his. He’s a growing boy, almost taller than me with a bass in his voice. As he approaches his teen years, he sees me as a friend but I gently draw a line. He tells me a little too much at times but this is a critical stage in his life and it establishes and solidifies our relationship as he grows into a young man. Balancing the friendship and parenting is tricky because the side effects are a closed off child who learns about life on the streets, so my parenting leans towards a friendship at this crucial stage.
It’s a lonely stage for me as a parent, compared to my baby boy who would welcome me at the door and tell me about his day, his friends his teachers, he’s quite the opposite. His conversations sometimes include “I’m not in the mood”, “I’m busy” some days.  He no longer calls me mommy but chooses to call me “mother” because kids at school once said only mommy’s boys do that. We chat mostly on his terms.



What’s been the most surprising aspect of motherhood?

It’s been surprising how he raised me as much as I did him, my life was on a very different path when he came along. My son gave me structure, direction and purpose. He made me want more for myself by wanting more for him. He gave me the fire to stand up against anyone who wrote us off because of how young I was when I had him. He became my motivation and my driver. I owe a lot of what I have become and will become to him being born. I can now state that I’m a strong and solid woman because of all I had to be the minute he showed up.

How would you describe your home? 

It’s a work in progress, practical with modern aesthetics. We have all we need currently but I've just purchased a new permanent home. The intention is to make it our pause area, a break from the world. I take cues from the travels I’ve gone on. I want my home to have a holiday vibe about it that forces me to leave my issues at the door by creating a relaxed comfortable chill zone that is dedicated to connecting with my little guy and simultaneously catering to our individual needs.





Your Parenting Philosophy? 

I try my very best to remember that old saying “kids are great imitators, we need to give them greatness to imitate”. Parenting has no instruction manual, giving it your very best is enough and it is satisfactory when you know it’s true.

What do you want most for your son?  

I want him to grow into a respectful young man with humility and clear values. He has to know that he is on this earth for a reason, he has a purpose and can never let anyone make him feel otherwise. He must never be afraid to dream. He is capable of doing whatever he puts his mind to so he must be intentional about what he puts in there, it becomes reality.



Parenting advice.

Trust your gut, you know a lot more that you think about your child.

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