My first festive season as a mom

How I learned to balance being young with being a mom.

My first festive season as a mom

When Mandilakhe gave birth to her son, she had to learn how to balance being a teenager with being a mom. This is her story:

I’m Mandilakhe, from Cape Town. I was 16 when I found that I was pregnant. My baby was born when I turned 17. It was December and I wanted to have fun like most girls my age, but my mother said I needed to be responsible for my baby. I was angry at first but I found support in my cousin, who also has a kid. Instead of going out, we created our own fun. We watched movies and had parties for just the two of us and our babies. It wasn’t easy but it we had each other, and supported each other. Instead of going to the beach on Christmas day, we stayed home with our babies...and made the moments social by hosting a braai for our families and neighbours. Some days we’d go the park, on others I’d stay at home with the kids while she went to do her hair, and she’d do the same for me. This showed my mom that I was responsible. She gave me permission to go out on New Year’s Eve. Before going out, I fed my son and made milk bottles for him. I had fun at my friend’s party but made sure that I got home just before midnight. My baby is now two years old and my mother has become my support system and helps look after my son. I also have my cousin, and we’ve become very close because we are both young moms, and our parents insisted that we look after our babies, and be responsible parents. I have to put looking after my son before fun with friends. It’s scary to be a mom. Looking after my baby showed me that it’s possible to be both. My social life is not the same but I found other ways to enjoy being young while being responsible for my child. With the right support and attitude, teen mothers can have a balanced life.

Many girls and women in India are expected to stay at home to avoid being harassed. Read Meenu’s story.