And just like that, the series is coming to a close. But obviously, the last episode has to include my own story. I wouldn’t know how to introduce myself without tooting my own horn – which is something I know I can do quite well if you give me the platform.
But in a nutshell I am a Zimbabwean coloured girl that moved to Cape Town when I was 18 to study and fell in love with the city and most importantly the man I fondly call my team mate – Timothy. Our journey spans over 20 years together but if I take him out of the story there’s a kaliedescope of life lessons, massive cat fights and insecurities that I never knew lay under the surface of my extroverted, seemingly secure, exterior.
I absolutely love being around people and getting to know how they tick and why. It has taken me a long time to curb my very blunt tongue and also put myself in the shoes of the other person before shaping an opinion or perspective of the other human.
I’ve learned that cultures are definitely different and it often has nothing to do with the colour of your skin. I don’t like being put in a box and yet I will gladly tick the list of boxes needed to achieve a goal and feel the satisfaction of completing it.
I am competitive to a T but have learned to appreciate the loss even though I don’t like it. Hmmmm, what else would you want to know? I have always wanted to be a mother, even from a very young age and I have always wanted to be the “cool” mom. Why? I just think that if I’m able to reach into the next generation and influence them to make better choices – then if being considered “cool” is going to unlock that for me, then so be it. I know I don’t always get it right – but (as Cindy says) gosh darnit! I’m going to try.
Anyway, thank you for walking through this series with us – its been such a joy. The blog is going to unfold into a plethora of tips, tricks and conversation starters to help us be the bestest we can be in this parenting journey. I don’t know about you- but these years are hard. It’s constant and even though I may be sleeping through the night (wink toddler mom), the emotional weight of this part of the journey is in every minute of every day and even though I may offer up the advice – my humans now, can shove it aside and do their own thing while they eye roll and attitude walk away from me and plot my death in their hormonal minds because “I ruined their lives”. (can I get a high five mamma’s)
I don’t know about you, but that’s scary.
Anyhoo – onto my adolescent story.
I am Shaveh, mother to Aislyn – who has recently turned 13 – and Iraina – who is about to turn 11. This is our journey so far….
Can you describe your childhood – being a little girl and what that was like for you?
I was rather tom boyish in the way that I used to play as a little girl and yet – completely enjoyed the Barbie, hair toss and twirly dress moments. I remember putting really long skirts on my head and running around the yard and pretending I was a princess and yet the very next day I would be trying to build a fire in the back yard to make a fire and cook the bugs that I’d found.
I was also the girl that wanted to run faster than the boys, swim better and hit further than them because I could. I loved computer games, skateboards, high top sneakers and baggy pants. I absolutely loved the fashion at the time of the 90s baggy pants, dungaries and tank tops and yet – when the opportunity arose, I’d wear the pretty dress and the make up to enjoy the girl in me. My father constantly told me that I was beautiful and amazing – even though there were strict boundaries and discipline I never felt insecure about the way I looked.
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?
My parents were like me – forward thinkers. They bought books that they used in our bedtime routine and I remember around the age of 7 that the first book was brought out (that I’ve also used) that gave the basic explanation of how our bodies change and how babies were made. So it wasn’t a conversation as such, but rather they exposed me to the information and thereafter I tried to piece together how the female “period” part worked. I remember being 10 and some of my friends had started and I kept trying to understand the math of it all. Our school was amazing as well as they gently started educating us in the detail of how a period cycle worked. So between my parents and the school there was a healthy balance of age appropriate information that I received.
When your body started to change, how did you feel about it?
Honestly, I was a late bloomer – one of those that by the time it eventually changed I was desperate to be a part of the “woman” club. I do remember being 13 and going bra shopping with my mom in Botswana just before Christmas. I had felt awkward before this (it was my first year of high school) and they told us that we had to wear a bra or “crop top” under our dresses so that the boys couldn’t see anything through the sleeves of our dresses. I felt awkward because I literally had nothing to cover up? I mean, look all you want boys – all you’re going to see is similar to what you already have. #eyeroll – I didn’t understand the big deal was until a little later when my little rose buds popped up.
I was ready, and being as competitive as I am – being one of the last didn’t go down well – but I regretted the rush after everything was “complete”.
How long did it take you to settle into being fully comfortable with being a woman?
As I said before – I was absolutely ready. I was athletic and ferosciously active – so I guess I was a little annoyed by the slight extra curve in my shorts but being majority muscle back then – I was more focused on being strong than anything else. The Inconvenience of having my period annoyed me but I still embraced it for what it meant and realising the responsibility of being able to reproduce as well.
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 only used pads – I had tried tampons but they kept popping out, which was embarassing (face palm) It was like my body kept saying, “nope, not in here thank you”. Lol – I laugh about it now, because I now know why my body did that, it’s hilarious. This is why I wish there were period cups back then. This may be an over share, but hey – this is what it’s about right. I’ve come to learn that I have a low lying cervix or shorter vaginal canal and so there isn’t much room between the exit and my cervix for a tampon to sit. That’s why the cup has been amazing. Just saying.
What has your relationship been like with your daughter/s with regards to talking about this stage in life?
From what you’ve read already, you’ve probably gathered that I’ve been talking to them for a long time about it. I’m an everyday conversation kind of mom – so they have always been free to ask whatever they’d like and whenever as long as it is respectful and in the appropriate company. I’ve never hidden my sanitary wear from them and so that left them open to ask what it was – they were both around 3 years old. In terms of the birds and the bees – 6 years old is when I dropped little nuggets into their bubble for them to think about. This started the conversation and it hasn’t stopped. It’s not every day, but I tell them when I have my period now so that they can understand the moods, cramps and duration of it and that it’s different everytime and for everyone.
Do you/Did you feel ready for the transition? Did you recognize the changes as they started happening?
Honestly, which mother can say they’re ready to watch their little girl step into this weighted responsibility journey of being able to bear a child. Because of our open and honest conversations and my intermitent prying into their minds and lives – we’ve watched together as the change is starting to happen. I love that it’s gradual and a journey walked together. The moods have been the hardest to help them understand and how to harness themselves and identify feelings. That’s been a challenge.
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’ve taken principles from certain cultures to speak to our oldest about the responsibility of being a teen and even though she may still be our child – she is now considered an adult in terms of her stature and what her body will be able to do. I plan on taking their lead because each one is different and so if the one wants to celebrate with a red moon party – then we’ll do that or if they want to just eat a full tub of ice cream and cry through their first PG13 romance movie – then we’ll do that. But 13 is a marker in our family for when we celebrate them and talk to them differently and do that on their birthday.
What do you hope your daughter/s gain/s from you as you journey through this stage with her?
I hope to continue growing in our relationship and learn more about each other and how being a woman isn’t a one size fits all situation. That they are strong, they are not limited and that they can do anything they set their minds to in their life journeys. I hope they learn that they are allowed to feel and that every feeling is valid and also that I am not perfect and won’t ever be which will hopefully make me relatable to them throughout their lives.
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.
Iraina: looooongg pause – I don’t know. I don’t know (is that all?) yah.
Aislyn: I will be disgusted and I will cry. I’m sorry, but I don’t like blood coming out of me – like, I cut myself this morning and it freaks me out. I’ll have to drink more water…..
Iraina: you said one question? (blank look)…… I like that you’re fun.
Aislyn: me…. I like that you always understand most of the stuff I’m going through (except gymnastics) I feel like you’re a chief and I’m like a deputy, you know how a deputy has to learn from the chief about how they can become a chief one day – you’re like my chief.
Well, that made me smile – these two are so different and honestly I couldn’t have asked for any better female humans to be my daughters. They have taught me so much about life, about myself and they are just plain awesome.
Thank you so much to all of the super amazing women that were brave to share their intimate stories with us. Cindy, Nicole, Celeste and Zikhona – you are wonderful women and amazing mothers to beautiful young ladies. The Village we are building is a healthy and strong one and being Mother has made us superheroes.
Shante, Thank you for capturing the beauty that this chaotic journey brings. The imagery is amazing and we are grateful for your gift and eye to see us in our beautiful states.
I really hope that this series has brought you joy, more understanding about yourself and where you’re at in your journey with your princesses. Here’s to being amazing women and embracing the beautiful, magical chaos we enjoy as women.