When I started this blogging journey, I sort of promised myself that I would write every day of the week, unless work was chaos or I was traveling or something. There will always be a reason not to write, but by sticking to writing every day, I make sure I really look at what I’m thinking and feeling at any given point on this journey. Pregnancy isn’t easy, and I’m sure parenting won’t be, either. But I don’t want to use that as an excuse to not stay in touch with myself (and with all of you who read my words). Yesterday, though, I didn’t write, and here’s why.
I’m working hard on finding a balance between speaking my mind and also just keeping quiet. I have many feelings about what’s going on in this country, but I also know that no matter how much South Africa feels like home, I will always be a foreigner. I will always have a different perspective on all of this because I didn’t grow up here, I wasn’t raised with the same cultural baggage – I come with my own. Harley will be raised here, but hopefully she’ll at least be raised to see things from many different perspectives… but it’s still making me think a lot of about the way things have “always” been done.
Not so long ago, infant mortality rates were way higher than they are now. Kids were dropping dead from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or Cot Death without any reason. Now, we know the reasons and we know that things like putting a baby to sleep on her stomach or using a bumper in the cot can be the difference between life and death. We know that vaccines are safe and should be given to all children, they don’t cause things like autism or something. We know about the importance of nutrition, of development, of socialization, of education. Not everyone has access to all of these, and plenty of people who could do better continue to be blinded by ignorance.
In a way, it was all muddled together for me yesterday and I was just feeling a bit overwhelmed and despondent about the state of South Africa and what it might mean for raising a child here. But today I remember an important fact – I’m going to be Harley’s mommy. I’m going to be the one to put these debates into a context for her. I’m going to be the one who puts her to sleep for her naps and for bedtime. I’m going to be the one who picks out her school, who ensures she gets a quality education. I will be the one who can curate the world for her, at least during her formative years.
As I say when anyone asks why on Earth I would choose to live in South Africa, there are issues in any country around the world. No place is perfect, but Dean and I are happy here. There are plenty of problems, and the recent student protests highlight so very many of them. However, there are also so many wonderful things about living here, and I wouldn’t easily pick up and move away just yet. Sure, Harley might be exposed to racism, to structuralized social injustice, to sexism and to corruption. But to be honest, those things exist all over the globe, just in different ways. So I will ensure that she is also exposed to wonderful people, to safe environments, and to understanding WHY people think those things sometimes, and what she can do in her own small ways to counteract those cultures and help make the world a better place. And by doing that, hopefully I can make the world a better place, too.