AS IT COMES: Style icon Nandi Madida is relishing her role of being a mother. Picture: Marchelle Abrahams

TV personality Nandi Madida chats with Marchelle Abrahams about being a mother and dealing with life in the public eye.

When Nandi Madida, 29, walks into a room there is an atmospheric shift. Maybe it’s the fact that she is much more beautiful in real life or that her smile resonates a genuine feeling of happiness.

The TV presenter, actress and singer has carved herself a successful career, but her crowning achievement to date is the birth of her son, Shaka.

Just a few moments before I watch as she works the room while MCing a Clicks Baby event.

Her enthusiasm and bubbly mood is infectious, and she has the audience settled into an almost easy comfort, with occasional giggles.

She introduces herself like an old friend, warm handshake, and promptly leads me up to her room.

Draped across a couch, immaculately dressed in a dusty pink tailored coat and monochrome mini dress, she exudes a presence that instantly calms those around her, and I silently wonder if she knows the effect she has.

Not one to grant media interviews on a whim, I take advantage of the few minutes she’s given me and jump right in.

“Don’t mind me,” she says as she checks her cellphone for her flight details. Being a media personality, businesswoman, and now a mom of a boisterous 10-month-old boy, it’s hard to keep a work-life balance. How does Madida do it?

Her face lights up when she starts talking about being a mother.

“It’s more about having a positive attitude, because every day is different. You take on the day as it comes. And it’s funny because I have this philosophy that whether you’re a mom or not, you should do all you can do is be brave and take on the day. That’s the truth!”

But the reality is that it’s easier said than done and she’s resigned herself to the fact that sometimes life happens when you’re making plans.

“Of course you try to be as organised as possible and plan, but sometimes they say God laughs at your plans.”

There's no such thing as the perfect mom. Madida is brutally honest when it comes to her journey into parenthood, which is refreshing for a woman in her position, choosing instead to breach the stereotype of perpetuating the image of the perfect mother.

“We always have expectations of how our day should be or how parenting should be.”

She then shares a story about the first time her son fell ill, saying: “For me this was huge, because I’ve never been a mom before and I didn’t know what to do.”

Alone with a little child and her husband (producer and musician Zakes Bantwini) working in Bloemfontein, Madida made the choice at 3am to take him to casualty. “That,” she muses is “taking the day as it comes”.

She was scheduled for a shoot three hours afterwards, testament that her life is a series of stops and starts. But she admits that she wouldn’t want to change a thing about it.

“It’s beautiful, because you actually realise how strong you can be. I think because of that things like work become easier because they aren’t as challenging.

"If anything, motherhood has been the most challenging role by far.” Parenting in the modern age has become a minefield of overexposure to mass media, self-help books and parenting “gurus”.

New moms are subjected to judgment if they ask for help, seeing it as a sign of weakness. So they carry on, struggling in silence.

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This could even be a contributing factor to the high levels of post-partum depression many South African moms are experiencing.

Madida refuses to be drawn into the thinking that supermoms show their steel by single-handedly raising children without asking for support. “Before I become a mom, everyone said ‘get all the help you can get’, and I just thought ‘it’s a little baby, how hard can it be'? But really, it’s different.

“Those first three months were daunting, and thankfully, I had my mother. And I had my sister around me, who luckily is a doctor.

"But most importantly, I had my husband.

“And that’s so important for your sanity, because doing it alone is something else.”

She says the first two-and-a-half weeks after Shaka’s birth were the most difficult. It was just her and Bantwini: “We were overwhelmed with this little human being.

"But once you get more help, you just feel more reassured and relaxed.”

New moms who get the support they need are also more in tune with their baby’s needs.

“It’s so important to have positive emotions, because that spills onto your children,” says Madida.

“The African way is having a whole community of ladies helping one another.” I mention the “it takes a village” idiom, and she nods in agreement. When Madida and Bantwini quietly started their relationship, they refused to talk about their romance in public.

When they walked down the aisle, it made for interesting headlines. But local media have taken a liking to the low-key couple, even referring to them as #couplegoals.

Madida laughs off the tabloid exposure, adding that it’s the intention behind everything you do that matters.

When Shaka was born, she shared a tender Instagram post of the newborn beside a heart-warming message for Bantwini.

But unlike other celebs, there’s no forced or staged pictures.

“Social media is a great platform for us, but for me, even with our relationship before our son was born, if we were going to do something because we thought from a branding perspective, we need to flood people with our love - rather than us being in love.

“We always want it to come from an honest perspective, and that’s why we never want to sell perfection. And that’s why, coincidentally, we end up being private.”