So I was invited to speak at a Parenting Seminar this past Saturday. It was such a great opportunity to contribute to such an initiative and also to try something completely out of my comfort zone. Ive never done public speaking but have always preferred writing. When I first knew of the Seminar, I thought, wow! I’m not an expert in anything, so what message could I share then?
After some time thinking over it, I thought that the best thing to do would be to share something from my personal parenting experience.
Heres a copy of my thoughts…
Dumelang.. My name is Anita Baliki, more affectionately known as 1_Young_Mama on my social platforms. The concept of this seminar is something that I couldn’t help but support.
I mean, parenting is one of the wildest rollercoasters that a person goes through, it would help a great deal to have more information available for us to continuously learn new tips, tricks and techniques that can help us navigate through.
I am a mother of one. My star boy Aidan. He’s 2 years old now, and I am a student at the University of Botswana, pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Finance and also run a blog called 1 Young Mama which I created whilst I was expecting Aidan. I had my son at 20 and let me tell you. The picture I had in my mind of what motherhood was going to look like and the reality of it could never compare.
There was no way all the pictures of the well put together moms in mommy and me matching outfits and candid everyday pictures were lying to me. It just had to be a smooth transition, I expected myself to take to parenting like a fish to water, simple as that! Its only after the baby has arrived earth-side do you experience just how much of godly task you have been assigned, one that requires a lot of work, love and faith.
Now I think I was asked to speak here today to share a little bit more about my motherhood journey, to share sentiments, learnings with you. It is key for me to participate initiatives like this to help bring awareness to it. My son came into my life at a very early stage of my life, and there was no way I could’ve anticipated the impact that he would have in my life. I mean, my birthing experience was a lesson on its own, from the onset I learned that being a young mom can require a strong and steady mind from you because as young mom, from the moment the people around you learn of your pregnancy, negativity starts flying around. Because it is a societal view that having child young could prove detrimental of your personal development.
I was fortunate enough to have the option to stay home towards the end of my pregnancy to prepare for our first borns arrival. You know how you go crazy with a first born, we painted a nursery, designed it to be just the way we dreamed it to be and we bought every little adorable piece of clothing that we came across. What an exciting time! You know I’m really grateful to have my partner because he has always agreed to all these things, a real trooper. My partner in crime.
We had planned everything down to the T, from Aidans ootds right through to the birthing plan. We had planned to have a natural birth so naturally that meant we spent quite a large amount of time with our eyes glued to YOUTUBE BIRTHING VIDEOS. I know why would do that to ourselves!!
But none of what we planned happened the way it was supposed to, first of all were overdue, at 42 weeks and ended up inducing labor.Ouch!! 2 hours of labour turned into a race to the delivery room for an emergency c section. Aidans heartbeat was falling and we needed to get him out or risk losing him.
What a change in plans right, I remember praying so desperately for God to spare my son, asking myself what it is I did wrong for all this to happen, I had had a healthy pregnancy, no symptoms and no complications so at the time I experienced intense feelings of self blame. I felt as though I subjected my son to harm by opting to induce. Like why didn’t I just wait it out and let him come out when he wanted to. Sounds silly but that same statement sent me spiralling into weeks of self blame.
Right now, I wish I knew what I know now, that Fetal distress is likely to occur when a pregnancy lasts too long, that this was something that was completely out of my control and was, in no way a reflection of my ability to protect my son. Because In that moment, my thoughts were about how I had put my son in danger and that I would never endanger him again. Was this the the trigger of my anxiety? Most probably. From that moment I became obsessed with keeping my son safe.
I watched him day and night because I was uncomfortable with anyone touching him and turned down any help or hiring a nanny. Started getting panic attacks when I was away from him. But I was exhausted! And went on for about three months before we realised that I had a problem.
At this time, I wish I had more information available to me on how to recognise post part anxiety because I could’ve sought help then. But I like to think that all experiences are sacred and are necessary for your journey.
I was fortunate to have my husband by my side who was so understanding and allowed me to go through it at my own pace. He constantly reassured me that I was a good mom to Aidan and that I will know when I would be ready to let people around him. He was willing to see us through. But just like that all the plans we made before went right out the window and I immersed myself in taking care of my son. Nothing else mattered.
This is my reality, with postpartum anxiety.
Post partum depression and anxiety are not character flaws or a weakness. It is very important that our societies raise awareness on such real issues. There are so many factors that can contribute to the start of a persons anxiety. More especially in the world we live in now, where there isn’t enough awareness and where children are seemingly never safe.
At some point when I started to realise that I wasn’t okay, I started doing my own research on what could be happening, whether it was depression or anxiety, finding out what actually happened in my delivery room and looking for platforms where I could read stories from other moms about their anxiety to give mine some normality.
I am happy that I picked up that something was wrong because now I could communicate this to my husband and to myself whenever I myself needed to hear it. And it helped me learn how to live with anxiety by my side, to identify my triggers and try my best to talk myself out of feelings of panic whenever they were creeping in.
Now, In my mind, even as a little girl, I always pictured Motherhood as time of intense joy, having a little person around you that you created from scratch haha I am always determined to live out that dream. Ive always known that I wanted a solid relationship with my children. And I also wanted to be that hot cool mom that my mom used to be you know. I pictured myself as the mummy mom who’s not afraid to kick her heels off and join in on the kids fun yet also maintaining my ‘bokgarebe’ and continue to do the things I loved.
This is one of the other reasons why I appreciate the concept of this seminar so much, their goal is to equip us parents with information that could help us achieve a happy, healthy and fashionable parenthood.
I started my blog as a way to share my experiences with fellow moms or just anyone interested in following my journey/story and other things I like, like beauty fashion and fitness. Parenting is a part of my family/every day life and I am constantly trying to improve myself in this aspect, always asking google mom for advice. So in the beginning stages, I asked my self questions like; what kind of parent do I want to be? what kind of character traits do I want my child to have? What kind of relationship do I want to have with my child 20 years from now. What kind of life do I want to live as a parent?
Just to clear the air, Im a very emotionally based person. You’ll pick that up from our short time here together. So when I think, what kind of relationship would I want to have with my kid 40 years from now, I can’t help but cringe at the thought of being one of those grandmas who barely get to see their grandkids because their own kids would rather live completely separate lives to me. In my reality, that is my worst fear. My goal is to raise family oriented children who eat their greens and know how to live peacefully with other humans around them.
So how does one create a balance between being mummy mom and your own person and every other role that you assume without loosing your cool? This has to be the one of the most asked questions that I receive on my platform and to be honest, I don’t think that a balance exists. You could be having the most fulfilling week with your baby but still have little hiccups in your professional life or have those weeks were life is just making it practically impossible to squeeze in anytime for yourself.
So heres a couple of things that I have tried to practice to try help me along this journey.
Segmenting your life into different and being conscious of they’re separate successes and their wholistic impact on how you feel. I compartmentalise my life into 4 parts; motherhood, marriage, school and business. For all these key points, I have different goals, achievements and challenges but an average score can serve to be better than an individual one.
Self love and care – Brene Brown said “You can only love your child as much as you love yourself” Most of us want to give our children more love than we could imagine giving ourselves. As mothers we are hard-wired to believe that to be a ‘good’ mother we should think only of our children. That we shouldn’t need to practice self-love, that we shouldn’t need anything more than the fulfilment of being a mother. Our families come first and our role as mother should be all the fulfilment we need. This is how we were brought up to think but we now need to recognise the power and importance of self love and break the former narrative. A mother who looks after herself and her needs, who nourishes herself, who takes care of herself and who feeds herself with love, is a mother who is happy. My son has taught me that he learns more from my actions than anything I could ever say. We first started seeing it when he was under 1, how he would only want to kiss and hug everyone he interacted with because his mom and dad were always kissing and hugging. It was the way we taught him to communicate. So I figure if he was a happy fulfilled mom, he would learn how to live life in the same fulfilled manner.
Exercise is a big part of my life, which I discovered in my late teens, it later grew into a passion for me because it represents strength, exercise is an act of self love. Giving back to the body through which you live. Also exercising provides a great platform for stress relief. When 2 out of 4 parts of my life compartments aren’t doing so well and I’m really feeling frustrated, I can just head to the gym and hit the treadmill for an hour and allow my body chemistry to help me balance out a little. Its a coping mechanism that has become an essential part of my living and I hope to pass it down to my kids. Another reason why I love exercise is the discipline and structure it brings. And the constant goal setting involved with fitness that allow you to get used to the feeling of crushing your goals. And that by itself will encourage you to crush all the other goals from your other facets of life.
Mindfulness- I turned to mindful parenting, when my brand began to grow, and when I generally had more work that would require me to use a screen. When I would find myself always having something to do. And I was continuously anxious about what was next and my to do list. I felt so disconnected and distracted so I started switching off my social app post notifications to allow me to have maximum concentration with the tasks at hand. And only using the screens from time to time but mostly after Aidans bed time. This has to be one of the best things I learnt in my motherhood journey because it has helped me grow all my relationships and projects. You’d be surprised just how much a phone can be a distraction. This had awarded me the most special moments.
At the end of it all my greatest lesson is that there is no perfect parenting, there is always room for more knowledge and going out there and acquiring information allows you to make more confident decisions in your parenting journey and helps you stay reassured and happy. And letting some of that energy brush off onto your little one. These little people love us and they depend on us to show teach them how to live a fulfilled life, for me living a fulfilled life is living a life surrounded by the people that love you, and living a life with passion.
And thats it folks…
Like I said, this was a first time experience for me and I enjoyed the challenge, lessons were learned but overall it was a great experience.
I am really hoping the Seminar becomes an annual event because I really learned so much from what they had planned this year.
Thank you for reading..