by Thato Mokhothu-Ramohlanka founder of MR Consulting
A year ago I became a new mom. No one could have adequately prepared me for what motherhood had in store for me. I found out about my pregnancy two days after my wedding day and my life has been a complete rollercoaster ever since.
When growing up, most of my peers had dreams about their fairy tale weddings and family lives. My ambitions were completely centered around a career. I had to have an amazing career first and then a family would come after. In fact, the idea of having a career was so embedded in my mind that if I had to choose between the two, having a family would definitely come second. My idea was that if someone spectacular were to come my way, he would have to be supportive and strong enough to understand that the demands of my job would sometimes take a significant amount of my time.
"As young women specifically, we need to see and hear more realistic stories of what it takes to succeed, looking behind the power suits and the jewellery. Unfortunately, many of the images we see cause us to become disheartened instead of inspired."
Fast forward a few years and the reality did not match the picture in my head. All of a sudden I was a housewife and it was devastating because that was never part of the plan. As if that was not enough, all the efforts that I was taking to change my circumstances were futile. In hindsight, because most of my energy was channeled towards raising my amazing daughter whom I love unconditionally, the job hunting efforts were not enough. Either way, I had to focus on my new role as a mother.
There’s a certain level of caring for a child that borders on losing oneself completely, and the repercussions on one's mental health can be very serious. Due to other related challenges including nanny issues and my commitment as a caregiver, I became oblivious to the extent of my physical and mental fatigue because the daily focus was on my child.
As a young person my daily routine still involved staying in touch with the latest news and trends by logging into social media. But this was more depressing than anything else. Seeing my peers posting updates about their work made me feel inadequate. In my mind they were living the life of my dreams and I felt stuck.
In retrospect, this was a distorted point of view because there’s nothing more fulfilling, real and heroic than raising a child well. However, the pictures of them in their power suits and work events clouded my judgment completely. My self esteem took a knock and I failed to fully embrace the precious time I spent with my daughter.
I love being a mother, but motherhood is difficult. Taking care of a little human being who relies completely on you can be exhausting. Even with support, it can be challenging. My support system is great. Within the people around me, I have a helpful, considerate husband and a loving mother whom as I consider to be my life coach. Despite all of the support, l felt that something was missing.
I gained a lot of weight throughout this period and that added to my frustration but steps had to be taken to get out of the darkness. I went back to the gym and began to attend workshops as well as conferences. I joined a non profit organization of young people doing amazing work for the benefit of other young people. The interaction with like minded individuals allowed me to appreciate my life again. It is hard and it is a daily battle but I began to find the strength in my different roles as a new mother and wife instead of seeing it as a hindrance.
The pressure of success on young people in general is enormous and the various economic challenges that we face in our daily lives cannot be understated. Some of us live in least developed countries and that alone is an impediment to us reaching our full potential despite the education that our parents sacrificed so much for.
As young women specifically, we need to see and hear more realistic stories of what it takes to succeed, looking behind the power suits and the jewellery. Unfortunately, many of the images we see cause us to become disheartened instead of inspired.
The achievements of women should not be a deterrent to their humanness or detach them from who they really are and where they come from. If we are going to have a real impact in society, the generations to come need to see us for who we truly are. We must strive towards embracing our struggles and difficulties because overcoming them is what makes us great. Any portrayal to the contrary is unrealistic, unfair and detrimental to those who are watching us.
Thato Mokhothu-Ramohlanka is the founding director of MR Consulting which offers legal and management consulting services to SMMEs. She graduated with degrees in Psychology, Sociology, Marketing Management and Law from the University of Cape Town and the National University of Lesotho. Thato is a member of the Global Shapers (Maseru Hub), a global non profit organization founded by the world economic forum that seeks to uplift the youth through various educational projects. She is passionate about young people and uses her writing to uplift and motivate them through their various challenges.