She thought she’d found her soulmate – he was everything she wanted and more in a man.
He was a visionary and, just like her, had his future all planned out. Tebogo Moloi* (26), a qualified dentist and second-year accounting sciences student, reminisces about meeting her baby daddy and ex-boyfriend, Thato Maimela* (27) – wondering how a sweet moment became so sour. She still wonders how she was stood up at a photoshoot celebrating their three-month-old baby.
“We met at school and I remember I knew most of his classmates. So, I would go check on his friends and he would always say, ‘Hi’ and force the conversations,” she recalls. Months went by and Tebogo started noticing his interest in her. “In April, a weekend after my birthday, he called me with Facebook Messenger. He asked where I was and I told him.”
Thato asked Tebogo if he could visit her, she agreed and gave him her room number. He went to her room and brought flowers, cake and chocolates. He told her he felt he should do something nice for her. Tebogo felt loved and thought of. They started hanging out more, she later realised there could something special about him. He was honest about his poor upbringing and she fell for that and “I decided to give him a chance”, she says.
Their future was aligned. The way he portrayed himself drew her closer to him. “I wanted to be a family woman, he did too, we wanted the same things,” she says. He proposed that they have a baby but Tebogo wasn’t ready at that time, so they spoke about it. Few weeks later, she asked herself why she had to wait if he was a good man. “He was so serious about me, told his family about me and always included me in all his plans. It gave me assurance that he wanted to do this.”
They tried for a baby and for a while she couldn’t become pregnant and Thato would be disappointed. “Eventually when I became pregnant, he was so happy, happier than me. He told his family to set a date to come to my home during the December holidays, I was four months pregnant.”
The family started having a relationship and later set a date for the lobola negotiations the following year. They continued working towards building a future together.
Fast-forward to three months after the baby was born. They planned a photoshoot to celebrate their baby turning three months old, just the three of them. Five days before the shoot he stopped returning her calls and texts, he would be on WhatsApp but never respond to her texts. “The day of the photoshoot comes, and he doesn’t come. We decide to go ahead with it, just me and my baby. Naïve me even sent him pictures after that, begging to be given attention.”
Thato posted the pictures on Facebook and mentioned how proud of a father he was and that he paid for the shoot but there was still no communication from him. This was also during the time he got a new job and bought a new car.
Lufuno Raphalalani, a social worker based in Norwood, says, “Sometimes success changes people, it brings new characters into one’s life. It can be difficult to keep the same dynamic they had before.”
Almost a month later Thato contacted Tebogo and told her it was over, just like that. He told her he fell out of love and hung up. “I kept on calling wanting to understand why but as soon as he heard my voice, he would hang up and block the number.”
Tebogo informed her mother that the relationship was over and that his family will not be coming for lobola negotiations anymore. Her mother told her to accept it and collect whatever she had at his place. “As humans, sometimes we make promises we don’t keep . It’s important to always bear in mind that when one is in a relationship, forever is not guaranteed. Communication is important, one has to set good communication patterns with their partner from the beginning,” Raphalalani says.”
Raphalalani says when a baby is involved there is a change of roles and lifestyle adjustments. Unfortunately, one cannot assume why Thato changed, especially when they planned the baby together. “Maybe the reason has nothing to do with her,” Raphalalani says.
The break-up started affecting her, so Tebogo started attending psychology sessions. “I cried and prayed so much I don’t know how many times, spoke to different people. I was miserable and lost so much weight, I was affected academically and decided to resign from my dentistry job.”
She had sessions with three psychologists who helped her see life from a different angle. “They taught me that there’s still life after being mocked at, laughed at, hurt and that you can still pick up your life.”
She is not the first person to be left with a child and won’t be the last. “They advised me to be happy first because if I am not, it will affect my baby. I learnt to be happy.” She realised that she needs to raise a child who doesn’t have to heal from her childhood. “I’d rather sacrifice my own happiness,” she says.
Tebogo had to remember how Thato didn’t care and disrespected her enough to tell her why he left, to be able to move on. “He’s not supporting the child and the first and last time he saw her was her first birthday.” They are not in contact, they only contact each other through family.
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Tebogo is coping as a single mother. “My mother is everything, my sisters and my aunts. My mother took my child when she was only a day old,” she smiles. The support keeps her strong, her family reminds her that the child is fine. “It’s all because of God. I saw him pulling me out of the dark place giving me a new strength and identity.” She is focusing on school and looking forward to doing her third year of accounting sciences in 2020.