Perseverance pays off for single mother
Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
Single parenthood can be like a tightrope walk - a balancing act of workplace, domestic life and the needs of the children.
Rose Marie McLeod is a single mother caring for three young children, two of whom live with her mother. It has been an overwhelming journey for her, however, despite the struggles, there is silver lining behind the dark clouds.
McLeod's eldest child, Xjair Brown, was one of the scholarship recipients at the recently held Guardsman Limited's awards ceremony. Brown will be attending Campion College, and he holds the distinction of being the only student from the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) awardees at the Harbour View Primary School to have been placed at the Hope Road institution.
McLeod has eight years of service with Guardsman Limited, and being a single mother raising a young child has had its difficulties, especially working as a security guard. Before Brown was born, both parents became separated, and according to McLeod, it was not an easy task being the sole breadwinner.
"I had to take him to day-care at the time when I lived in Harbour View. Sometimes, when I had to work the night shift, I had to leave him with friends. Sometimes, I didn't get any duty because after I did all of that, I was late for work. Sometimes, for the whole week I only worked for two days, but I decided I was not giving up," McLeod said.
At one point, McLeod, who had requested leave of absence from the company to visit her mother who had done a surgical procedure, found herself for an eighth month period without her job. She was unable to purchase food or pay her rent, and with little leniency from her landlord ,she soon found her possessions on the sidewalk.
"They stole everything that was on the sidewalk and I had to start all over again," McLeod said.
"My son was out of school for a while and we did not see each other because he was staying in Portmore and I was still in Kingston. After he came back, his teachers would help him with lunch money and bus fare for almost the three years he was at the primary school," McLeod added.
It was Valerie Juggan-Brown, co-managing director, at Guardsman Group who assisted her to regain her position at the company and has been a tower of strength for McLeod throughout the years.
Honest and hard-working
"She was someone in need, but notwithstanding, she is honest and hard-working. The security officers work so hard and they are dedicated to their jobs. They are our representatives that make things happen for us, so we have to look after them," Juggan-Brown said.
According to McLeod, from Xjair's early years at Seaview Basic School, he demonstrated leadership qualities, even holding the post of class monitor for three consecutive years.
Brown top-scored with an average of 96.4 percent in the GSAT examinations and is looking forward to the educational and co-curricular opportunities at Campion College. "When I studied, I set the stopwatch for three hours, then I would rest and go another three hours. My mother would ask me questions regarding what I have studied and then I would add an extra half an hour for the things that I didn't know," Brown said.
McLeod wants her son to ensure that he maintains good grades while at Campion and achieve his dream of becoming a pilot. She hopes he can also receive a scholarship towards his tertiary education.
"I have never felt sorry for myself as life goes on. I am happy now, so I do not cry, and I do not complain much. I always try to hold my head up high," McLeod said.