Skeem Saam actress and celeb parent Pebetse Matlaila (34) chats to us about how her daughter, Oarabile (5), gave her the courage to pursue her dreams again. By Kwanele Mathebula Pictures Hema Patel
We chat to celeb parent Pebetse Matlaila
I have always loved children. I am the first of three children; I have two brothers that I am very close to and have taken care of from a young age. While in high school, I was a Sunday school teacher for five years, and I enjoyed it. I love talking to children because of their inquisitive minds; I also enjoy seeing the world through their eyes. I love them so much that when I was younger, I wanted to have seven!
I found out that I was pregnant when I was 27. I was nervous to tell my parents because they are staunch Christians and have very strict values. But to my surprise, they were happy when I told them. I gave birth to my daughter, Oarabile, in September 2012.
Four months into being a stay-at-home mom, I realised that I was not happy. After giving birth, I decided to stay home in Limpopo to raise my daughter because I didn’t want to miss any milestone in her life. Although I wasn’t happy, I stayed in the relationship with her father, Jacob Lebogo, because I wanted to raise her within a traditional family unit. He was a politician and an important member of our community, which at times strained our relationship. I lost myself in the relationship because I had stopped working and pursuing my dreams; I was being provided for. That was not the kind of woman I was, and I wanted my daughter to be proud of me as her mother. Also, we hadn’t discussed how we were going to raise our daughter. This caused tension because we had different views on parenting.
I made the decision to make my daughter proud and started with leading by example. In 2013, I ended the relationship and moved to Johannesburg with my daughter to start afresh. I worked at various places such as ABSA, Ubuntu Radio under the Department of International Relations and Impact Radio, where I heard about the Skeem Saam auditions in Hammanskraal. It was tough at first, but I knew that I had to make it work for Oarabile’s sake. Co-parenting was also difficult because we were just not getting along. But, because I grew up with a great father and wanted the same for my daughter, I decided to put our differences aside. I reached out to Jacob so that we could create a schedule for them to spend time together. It was important to me that they build a relationship. We’ve since become good friends and recently took our daughter to Durban to celebrate her fifth birthday.
Being a mom has taught me that children rely on actions and not words. I have learnt to be thoughtful and conscious of what I teach Oarabile; and not just with my words, but also through my actions. Being a parent is a huge responsibility. And, I take mine seriously. Every morning, we start our day with the mantra: “be bold and brave” as a reminder to each other to be the best that we can be.
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