Parenting with Criselda Kananda

She is a Metro FM talk show host and was diagnosed HIV-positive 14years ago. She has since lived a healthy, symptom-free and positive life. She shared part of her journey with Masanda Peter for Parent24.

How are you finding parenting?

Parenting is a gift from God, unless parents recognize it as a humbling gift from the Almighty it will be too difficult a journey to embark on purely from heresay.

How many children do you have?

I am truly blessed with three most beautiful, intelligent, creative, funny, challenging gifts. Their names are Thatohatsi, Makhosazana and Thandolwethu.

How old were you when you had your first baby?

I was a naive 18-year-old who believed that marrying young would save me from my then life-challenging circumstances of not having parental support.

Were all your pregnancies planned?

Though all were born through traumatic circumstances, yes! They were planned! My eldest daughter was raised by her father, I was a child still when we separated I went back to school and he remarried. My second daughter's father was shot and killed when she was only 7-months-old.  We were married traditionally and a month away from a massive Christian celebration and my youngest daughter was born after a miscarried pregnancy which we later discovered was due to HIV infection that my then husband had hidden from me when we decided to have her. Thank God I followed the guidance of my gynaecologist and she was born without HIV and the marriage ended. Though they were all born through tragic circumstamces I am humbled to have been chosen to mother these three angels.

What challenges did you face with being a first-time mother to your daughter?

I was terrified at the prospect of being responsible for human life- it all happened so fast that at some stage I shut out the entire trauma from my memories and only chose the beauty of motherhood.

The names you have given your children- what heritage or special moments or meaning do they carry?

They were all named by my family-in-law and I approved all of them. Thatohatsi was named by her father who had been trying to have a child without success. At the time my daughter's grandfather who was aging and had ill-health desperately wanted a grandchild. He was overjoyed when she was born and named her Thatohatsi. Makhosazana is born of a royal family of siSwati decent. She was named Princess-Nkosazana because her late father referred to me as his Queen. And lastly, with Thandolwethu, I was going through the challenges of feeling betrayed yet did not want my child to be part of those feelings. She was born out of love and I wanted her to only remember that about her father.

You had a miscarriage before you had your last-born – how did you cope in that difficult situation?

It was difficult because i considered myself healthy and could not figure out what the problem was. To only discover at 7 months that I was pregnant in the next pregnancy was even harder; I feared experiencing yet another miscarriage.

Has your work schedule affected the time you spend with your children and how have you found the balance of being a single working mom – if you have found the balance?

I believe in spending not just time with my daughters but quality time. We have a schedule that works for us. It’s becoming more difficult though because they are now independent and are equally busy, but we do find time through cooking together, shopping and holidaying, and at least the youngest still gets us to help with home work and projects.

You have been very open and vocal about HIV and Aids matters, how did your family initially react to the news that you are HIV-positive. Did you talk to the kids and explain what HIV was?

It was my journey and had nothing to do with family. Had I considered how others would feel I probably would be amongst those suffering in silence in fear of being judged by my own family. As for my children, I educated them not because of my status but because it's every parent's responsibility to educate their children about HIV.

You contracted HIV within your marriage? How did that make you feel towards your ex-husband? Are you still angry?

We are socialised to always find someone else to blame and that can’t be right. I was part of that relationship and my health is always my responsibility. Taking that responsibility and remembering that I had a choice to enquire about his status before we married and I did not. I dealt with anger and cherished the time spent with him and the gift that Thandolwethu is to both of us.

What can you tell a mother out there who is keeping her HIV-positive status secret and not telling her children? Does she have to?

It's a challenging topic, each situation will have to be dealt within its merit , there is no one-size-fits-all. Not every parent tells their children they have hypertension, diabetes, etc. When a parent decides to share it should be an informative conversation and not a sympathy-seeking one. This means parents must inform themselves about HIV-related matters.

What are some of the things you never anticipated when it comes to parenting?

I never anticipate anything, so for me this continues to be a “learn as you go” process.

If you could teach your children one thing about life – what would that be?

Love and seek God first in all they do.

You were raised by your step mother as a young girl, how was that experience?

I was raised by many women who tried what was their best at the time. My late mother, step-mother, three grandmothers, aunties, neighbours, church elders, teachers, etc. and I am eternally grateful to all.

What values are you passing onto your children that you received from your parents?

All things come together for the goodness of humanity, to trust God in the process of life and living. Use God's love for humanity as a benchmark of self-love and respect.

As a single parent how do you deal with dating?

Once again another area that I throw in the “For God To Deal With” box. I say this because at forty something it’s not easy to come across a balanced available man.

When it comes to your children, what keeps you awake at night?

That they might self-doubt because of something I subconsciously said to them.

When your children look back, what kind of a mother would you like them to remember you as?

As a God loving mom, who loved them unconditionally.

What is your dream for children in South African or even the world?

For all children to feel and experience love especially in their early years of development.

Knowing what you know now when it comes to parenting what would you change?

Absolutely nothing!

Are your kids aware that their mom is a media personality?  How do you make sure that it does not get into their head?

I remain as normal a mom as possible, let them experience more “mom” than media personality. We agreed that we will not do public pictures/profiling. I need them to find their own path and course. Not to be overwhelmed by living up to mam Criselda's profile but their own.

Read more by Masanda Peter

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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