Written by: Neo Makgatho

Most of us young people believe that being a good parent means having lots of money to be able to take care of your child. But that’s not the case. We are somehow consumed by the idea that money can raise a child. But we forget the key fundamentals of becoming a parent.

I had my daughter in my early twenties and it was the most difficult experience of life. Not only did I have to deal with becoming a first time mom. My parents were also not supportive of my situation. My dad chased me out of the house and I had to go live with my grandmother. Later on my mother joined me two weeks after giving birth.

Money was never a problem as my father gave me money to buy groceries when I went to live with my grandmother. However, the thought of being alone with my grandmother was also stressful. Mainly because I had never lived with her and didn’t know what that would be like. All I needed was my parents support more than anything else and they were just not there. With everything going on around me I found myself depressed and lost.

I knew I had made a mistake the minute I realized I was expecting. Falling pregnant was not such a big deal but the person who impregnated me made it difficult. Financially he provided but that’s all he did. The rest was up to me. I hated him for lacking to see what I was really going through. Because whilst he was living his life I suffered from post-natal depression and no one cared to notice not even him.

I felt like having a baby had cost me a relationship with my parents. To some degree I wished she had died or something like that. It was that bad. It was only after reading an article from a magazine that things started to get better. I could identify with the symptoms of PND. And I could see that I was seriously strained mentally. Awareness kicked in and I realized that I needed to change my way of thinking and how I generally viewed things.

A few months later I found a job and interacting with other girls my age, older and younger made a huge difference. I worked as a Brand Ambassador for Unilever so meeting up with other girls with similar situations to share experiences made me realize that I was not alone after all. The more I opened up, the easier it got. Suddenly I had a group of young mothers with different backgrounds and circumstances yet we had one thing in common…parenting. They became my support system because they understood what I was going through. As a young adult, a woman and a mother.

My daughter is now seven and each time I look at her, I realize just how far I’ve come. Having had to take responsibility for her is one of the hardest lessons I have ever had to learn. It made me take a deep look at myself. And I finally saw that I had a pattern of blaming and complaining without taking any sort of ownership for my own mistakes. This has now changed and I embracing my uniqueness. I am also accepting of my individuality and acknowledging my imperfections. It was these things that made me appreciate being a parent and start forming a strong and healthy relationship with my daughter