‘I used to feel selfish going away by myself for the weekend, but those trips are what keep me sane’
Katlego Ledimo , 28, lives in Soweto with her son Langa, five, sister Keabetswe, 24, and brother Lesedi, 25. She is a communications manager at a consulting firm. When my mother died eight years ago I automatically took on the responsibility of parenting my younger siblings. I was 20 at the time so it wasn’t easy but I did my best to fill my mother’s shoes. But then, a few years later when my son was born and there was another person to look after, I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I had a full-time job and the family was relying on me, and no matter how tough it got to juggle everything, I had to swim – sinking just wasn’t an option.
Who is Katlego Ledimo Photo Gallery
THE TURNING POINT
Four years ago, I experienced a life-changing weekend. I had to attend an out-of-town work event, so I’d arranged a babysitter for Langa, and my siblings had plans of their own. The trip was cancelled at the last minute but instead of telling my family, I decided to go to Durban anyway. I craved a weekend alone – a break from my everyday life – so I made a reservation at a hotel. The drive down to the coast was the hardest part – I was leaving all of my responsibilities behind and it felt like a very selfish decision. I had to fight the urge to turn the car around. Up until then, I hadn’t left a then-year old Langa overnight and the only real me time I had was the hour I spent exercising every day, so I reasoned with myself that I deserved the break.
After checking into my hotel room, I was at a loss for what to do next. I wasn’t used to having free time and it felt strange. Eventually I turned on the TV, watched for a while, then had a long nap. The next day, I was determined not to waste a moment of my new-found freedom. I switched of my phone and went on a long run, followed by some sightseeing and a trip to the movies by myself. That evening, alone in my hotel room, I put pen to paper and jotted down my feelings. It was the first time in ages I’d allowed myself time to relax and reflect – and I felt emotionally healthier than I had in years. After three days of R&R, I felt like I’d refuelled, and was excited to get back to my life in Joburg.
That first trip taught me so many things: that my family is entirely capable of coping without me for a few days, and they could benefit from me having some me time – I was no longer so exhausted and short tempered. Looking back, spending that weekend away by myself was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Every year since then I’ve taken a similar trip, either to God’s Window or to my ancestral hometown in the North West, and these trips actually help keep me sane; I look forward to driving on the open road and the quiet of a hotel room. In fact, my family now encourage my solo trips – they’ve noticed that I come back a far happier, healthier person.
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