by Lihle Z Mtshali, the proud mother of a lovely little lady who thinks she’s Beyonce. She is Business Editor for The Times by day and Supermom every other time. You can also find her on twitter @lihle_z
I AM a Supermom. Yes, I said it. I do an amazing job as a mother and I am proud of it.
Mothers don’t get enough praise for the hard work they do, so I’m laying it on myself thick, thank you very much.
I am a single mother and have raised my now 12-year-old daughter Thando on my own, with a little help here and there. She visits her father on some school holidays, but the day-to-day demands stare me squarely in the face, every day. I have a very demanding full-time career but I come home every evening and make a healthy meal for my little one; chat to her about her day (there is a lot, she’s a pre-teen); check her homework; watch all her favourite TV shows on the Disney Channel and laugh uproariously at the antics of Zack and Cody, Hannah Mantana and the Wizards of Waverly Place; sing along to her Beyonce CDs and practice the dance moves with her; talk about her fears and hear all her secrets before ensuring that she goes to bed on time every night.
I’d love to lie in on weekends, but alas, she has hip-hop dance classes on Saturday mornings, followed by a birthday party or movies almost every weekend. Sundays it’s church and lunch with friends. Then Monday rolls around again and it’s back to ferrying Thando and her BFF to and from school everyday.
I am such a great mom that even Thando’s best friends come to me with all their pre-teen troubles. They can’t speak to their mothers, they tell me. They don’t come to me because I treat them like equals or friends. They still respect me as a mother figure and an adult and I have no qualms about telling them when they are out of line. But I made a conscious decision not to be the unapproachable mother that our mothers were.
I am 33-years-old and engaged but even now can’t talk to my mother about the man in my life. That door was never opened.
I do all that I do in the name of motherhood with all the love in my heart because nothing, absolutely nothing, fills my heart like seeing a smile on my child’s face.
But, I do get tired and fed up. Sometimes I get so frustrated I want to scream. Sometimes I do scream.
I miss Thando terribly when she goes away to Durban, but when I put her on that plane I give a silent cheer for the break I’m getting.
I used to be ridden with guilt when I got these feelings. I felt like, surely if you are a good mother you don’t get tired and frustrated?
Then I started talking to other mothers and found that I was not the odd one out. Phew! I realised then that not only do we all need a break, but it is absolutely necessary and crucial and enables us to function properly in our roles.
We drive ourselves so hard as mothers, single mothers especially, because we don’t want to be the mother that raised Jack the Ripper or even Candy the stripper. Sorry, exotic dancer. We are also very critical of ourselves and forget that although every once in a while we are capable of amazing acts of perfection; we are, in fact, still human.
So, during the Easter holidays while Thando was away frolicking on the beach with her cousins, having chips and ice-cream every day and no vegetables, I got to sit around in my pyjamas until midday on Saturdays. I got to do whatever I wanted; I got to be me, without the Supermom pressure.
I got to write this.