Raising a child you didn’t plan for
Written by: Mpho Raphata
I’ve always seen myself as a strong black woman who has overcome quite a bit in my life. I have been blessed with support in my family and friends and just people who are there for me. I have always known that people have challenges and issues that they are dealing with, challenges that they are struggling to overcome.
A few days ago on The Best T in the City, while talking about how it is raising a child you did not plan for, I didn’t just tell that story publicly for the first time, I came face to face with myself. I realised how much this has been weighing on me, how I thought I had dealt with it somehow, when I really hadn’t.
You see, as a young woman, I always thought that I would fall in love with a man who would be there and I would be his princess, who he would love and care for, no matter what. I lived in a world where that man would be there when I fell pregnant and support me, and also be there for the baby when it is born, as well as be an active and loving father and a partner who I could count on at all times.
At 27, I realised that my happy and ideal world was not going to happen. I fell pregnant unexpectedly and my worst nightmare came true, my knight in shining armor was not interested and treated me nothing like a princess. I was shattered of course. I didn’t know what I was going to do? I hated myself, him and this baby I was carrying?
In my mind, I would forget about this man and at least erase him from my life by moving provinces and see how I would raise this child. I spent the next couple of years hating him until I realised he needs to be responsible for his child. Erasing him from my life was not working for me, I had to do everything myself and I didn’t want my child to resent me for not knowing their dad.
I also understood that for me to have any interaction with him, I would have to let all that hatred go. It was not easy, if my child was ever to benefit from having him in her life, I needed to have some sort of cordial relationship with him.
And so I decided to forgive him for all that I thought and felt he had done to me and my child. It wasn’t easy, because I would have to go back and face my monster.
While trying to mend things, he passed. I now had new problems. His family didn’t know my baby existed. She didn’t know that he was ever alive. How unfair was life. Because of my anger, disappointment and hatred, my child didn’t know her dad and relatives. What really hurt me is that she would never know him.
I guess what this whole experience has taught me ladies; is never to let anger and disappointment rob your child of their father. I’m not saying it’s easy, I know it’s hard to deal with this. It’s time we broke the cycle, even if he let you down, be the bigger person. Their father is important to them. They need them in their lives if we are going to raise well-rounded children and build a better society.
To family, support us but never encourage a total cut-off from the father, you know the ’you can raise them without him’. It doesn’t matter how much you do for the child, they need both parents whether we like it or not.
As for fathers, fight for your children. Fight to be in their lives. I know that women can make it hard for you especially when you are not in her life. Do not abandon them and hope and pray they will disappear and cease to be your flesh and blood. I know it’s easier to walk away, so just don’t!
Children are not power tools, they are a blessing from God, they need our love, guidance and parenting so they can blossom. I love my kids, and can’t image life without them.
I’m learning from the mistakes I have made, I hope you can do the same. Let’s learn to forgive ourselves, to get up dust ourselves off and live life. It’s easier to wallow and get numbed by the pain.
I’m grateful for my family and friends for all the support and to my hubby, the best dad ever, thank you.
Taking one day at a time.