Welcome back to our awesome series. Hasn’t it been good? These women amaze me with their generosity and willingness to share. This is what we call sisterhood and learning from each other, for real.
Today’s mom is a woman I have known for a long time as well. Whenever she walks in the room or is close by, you literally inhale natural goodness. It was the thing that fascinated me from the get go. I had to know why she smelled so wonderful – and not in a “gucci” way. It was like being next to the biggest rose or flower garden.
We met in our homeschooling environments. You see, this mom is also a homeschooling mom and when we started around 10 years ago, being brown and doing this homeschool journey wasn’t as common as it is now. Sadly the homeschooling world was filled with more of our fairer community and it wasn’t often that you got to meet someone from our races doing this.
Like I’ve said before – I am a nosey little person and I like to know the answers to the things I am curious about. This time it was the pleasant aroma and why she smelled so good. She willingly obliged and giggled as she continued to tell me that she doesn’t wear perfume but makes her own skin care products with essential oils – please remember this was around 2010/2011.
I was in awe – mainly because I hadn’t heard of this before and honestly guys – this was my introduction to being aware of what I put on my skin and hair. She explained that she had started making her own body soaps for her and her family because her daughter had really bad eczema and nothing she found in the stores worked for her. So she took their skin care it into her own hands.
This, my dear readers, was when O’live Handmade Soaps was born. Back then she was just making a few here and there and was starting up as a small business – now, she travels the world to source authentic and organic products for not only her soaps but for skin and hair products as well.
She has done this, all the while homeschooling her youngest two children – that are dear friends of my children and we have journeyed together while comparing educational notes and the challenges we have faced along the way. I absolutely take my hat off to her – to be running a successful business and have her gorgeous children not only be the reason for starting it but have them alongside her is a massive testimony all in itself.
Without bragging too much more, this is Zikhona and her gorgeous, kind hearted daughter Busa. Their story is one many south african women can relate to and one I really hope you learn a lot from because theirs is the reality of many very young women in our society.
Can you describe your childhood – being a little girl and what that was like for you?
I grew up in a township, Mdantsane, near East London. For the most part, ours was a female-only family, with my mom and grand-mother sharing equal responsibility in raising us two girls. It was a beautiful childhood, like really child-like. We played games like house-house and 3 tins, in the dusty streets, creating strong friendship bonds.
Did you have anyone in your life talk to you about the changes that were going to happen in your body? if yes, how was that journey for you? if no, what do you wish had been done different?
Not a single person talked to me about the changes of life. Yes, I wish they had. I would have been better prepared for the changes, instead of feeling like I was a freak. When my period came I was literally playing with my peers in the dusty streets and I thought something was wrong and tried to hide it, luckily my aunt saw me and called me aside. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. Strangely enough, I had seen sanitary towels and had “pretend” worn them, but I had no clue what they really meant until that day. I was 10 years old.
When your body started to change, how did you feel about it?
I think my bodily changes were quite subtle, so I didn’t’ really have a negative feeling. I was excited to grow boobs as it meant I could feed my ‘babies’ real milk. I never associated my body changes with any form of sexuality or such. I was really young, innocent and naïve. In grade 7 I still didn’t know where babies came from.
How long did it take you to settle into being fully comfortable with being a woman?
I think I have always been content with my body, except for the stretch marks – and that was a whole lot of unhappiness. I tried to hide them and only around the time I was 18 years old did I come to accept them and be comfortable in my skin. I started having stretch marks from the age of 10, and they were mostly at the back of my legs and upper thighs.
What products did you use (basic description is fine) and what products that are available now, do you wish were available when you were a teen?
I used basic sanitary towels and tampons because I was a swimmer. I do wish there were more eco-friendly products like cloth sanitary wear.
What has your relationship been like with your daughter/s with regards to talking about this stage in life?
Adolescence came quite early for my daughter, too. So although the openness hasn’t come quite naturally, it’s been something I have been intent on doing, especially to remove the shame of it all.
Did you feel ready for the transition? Did you recognize the changes as they started happening?
I didn’t quite feel ready. When my daughter was 9, my mom looked at her and said to me “she is going to start her period soon”. Lo and behold, a few months later the red dot came. I just felt she was still too young to deal with this and I felt for her. I believe that through our conversations, I lightened the ‘burden’ a bit for her, especially with the knowledge that she was becoming a whole lady. Growing up with boys makes it a little uncomfortable for her and she deals with major period pains.
What memories have you made or hope to make around this time? Have you/did you plan specific events or moments to make the change easier for your daughter/s?
We honestly didn’t do anything special. I would have really liked to, but I kept on procrastinating. I think a little celebration of welcoming her into womanhood would have been sweet, but I am also aware that the whole experience was quite overwhelming for her, considering how young she was when she started.
What do you hope your daughter/s gain/s from you as you journey through this stage with her?
I hope she gets to celebrate all the beauty and not so beauty of being a woman. That she own her journey and derive pleasure in becoming a woman. I wish that she doesn’t subscribe to a certain notion that only certain body types/skin colour are beautiful.
If your daughter/s has/have any thoughts or what she enjoys/doesn’t enjoy about your relationship – please share them. Hearing from their perspective would be amazing and help readers to also see from their side of the rollercoaster.
From Busa – I love that we do a lot of things together, and that she helps me when I need her. I love that we have a close and open relationship.
I have to think about what I don’t like very hard.
How precious is that? The beauty of this story is that Zikhona took what she learned and experienced and flipped it for her daughter. There was no trauma, the openess is there and the relationship has the room to flourish and grow. With no judgement intended, if you’re a mom (or a single dad) and your experience was similar to Zikhona’s growing up, please don’t shy away from the awkwardness of the conversation, or the anxiety of being rejected by your child. If you can see the signs, and you haven’t started the conversation – just do it. Ask a question, seek out what they think and get the ball rolling. Don’t scare your kid into a sit down meeting scenario – approach it the same way you would when asking about her favourite colour or why she likes a certain type of shoe.
Our girls are at an age now where we are no longer just the “glaring down at them” and continuously bombarding them with instructions – kind of parent – now we are journeying and stepping into a zone of being their mentors and coaching them through this next phase of life. Decide now, what kind of relationship you want with your adult daughter – because if you don’t be intentional with it, the time will slip away and she will seek the advice and opinions of her peers and I don’t know about you, but I’d love for my daughter to choose to come running to me every she needs an answer.
It’s not going to be perfect, trust me – but we have to go on this journey with a plan lest we lose out on an amazing journey alongside them. Here’s to walking with our girls through their magically chaotic transition.
Don’t forget about the competition that’s up on my Instagram page. It includes some of Zikhona’s amazing soap products.