14.02.2021

BETWEEN US: LABOUR OF LOVE

Sibulelo Manamatela on lessons learned from her kids

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Words: Refiloe Legaola | Images: supplied

When you become a parent, you can always count on constant change and adaptation in your life. You learn as you go and follow what feels right to you.

In part four of the BETWEEN US series, Sibulelelo Manamatela, a mother to two boys, shares her story on motherhood and how her family dynamics shifted during the pandemic.

Being a parent came with a lot of fear and doubts for Sibulelo but it also allowed her the chance to discover herself through her children. “When your child comes into your life you have to navigate having a person depend on you but also try not to lose yourself in the process. Over and above that, you learn important things about yourself as well, ” she says. However, her biggest lesson from motherhood is being able to let go of pride and ego, or trying too hard to be the “perfect mom”.

In some ways, the pandemic didn’t change much for Sibulelo’s life. “Maybe it’s because I’ve been working and studying from home before the pandemic hit. My kids appreciate this time the most because they’re spending more time with us. The joy on their faces every time they run into every room in the house to find a person to play with everyday is heartwarming.”

Seeing that most child-friendly activities like park rides and movies have been paused for a while, Sibulelo has realised that more often than not, these activities serve as a distraction from reality. “Without that crutch of knowing that you can go out for ice-cream or on a playdate, we've been able to learn how to navigate each other’s emotions at their most intense.”

One of the things she’s come to realise from spending more time with her boys at home is seeing how smart and understanding they are.

“At the start of lockdown my son saw that going outside for activities wasn’t something we could still do and overtime he adapted to the new norm”, says Sibulelo. In addition, she also learned not to take things as hard as she does. She let go of the constant worry of whether her sons will be fine with being confined at home all the time. “I find comfort in knowing that they’re okay. I see it in their actions and that’s reassuring.”

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We move on to speak about their everyday routine at home.

“Our routine now consists of late-night parties and sleeping in the following day”, she says laughing. Sibulelo adds that she’s seen an energy shift in the house; there’s always an activity happening that involves the kids.

“This is an exciting time for my kids because not only can they stay up late, but we also prioritise playtime. This could be anything from having a picnic in the garden, rolling playdough, or simply just playing outside. Something about us getting down and dirty makes us love each other more on a daily basis.”

She says she’s been enjoying being at home with family, and this is something she hopes to continue doing going forward. “Not only does the time at home allow us to spend time together, it encourages us to get to know each other again and discover the cool that everyone is.”

When it comes to her parenting style, Sibulelo admits that she’s had to slightly tweak it because everyone currently has it rough and kids are in need of a little more love during this time. “I’ve become more lenient in my parenting style, spoiling them a little bit more and all-around loving them a whole lot more.”

She’s thankful to her children for empowering her to be fearless, know what she wants and go after it. She hopes everyone could aspire to have the same tenacity as children. “There’s nothing in the world that kids are scared of from the get-go. They learn fear from us. I see this in my youngest son of 11 months. If he feels like getting off a chair, he will do exactly that, regardless of whether he will fail or not.”

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That has made Sibulelo go after her passion projects, which include collaborating with a friend to launch a linen clothing brand for kids, as well as a supportive social media community for moms.

When asked about the connection with her kids, she says they’ve changed her life at the perfect time and made it better. “I really love my kids, they’re really cool people”.

To make this parenting journey a little sweeter, Sibulelo tries to steer away from negativity. “This also means being aware of the type of motherhood content you feed yourself.” She encourages other parents to absorb all the goodness that comes with this journey so that even when challenges come, you face them from a point of love.

The challenges of parenting during a pandemic can’t be overstated but, much like in Sibulelo’s case, there’s always little pockets of joy. Families have become closer and continue to learn about and from each other. The only thing we can do now is to turn to our loved ones around us and share love and knowledge. As much as your kids learn from you constantly - there are things to learn from them too in their little actions. So, this Valentine’s day- help each other be great and love a little more.

Follow Sibulelo Manamatela on Instagram

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