‘Jayden is my life’
Life has changed drastically for Charlene Vidal since a child came into her life.
The attractive young woman for whom motherhood was at one time “a definite no-no” cuddles her one-year-old son Jayden and allows him to slobber kisses all over her well made up face shortly before she is due to head out for an assignment with the promotional representatives whom she employs in her Etoile Promotions company.
“My mother would tell you she was very shocked and surprised to find out I was pregnant. My story all the time I was coming up was I don’t want kids,” Charlene said.
She had a change of heart. “I guess becoming older had a lot to do with it. I realised there is a godly contribution I have to make as a human being to the earth and I just decided it was time that I made that contribution and it had to happen before 30, with the biological clock thing . . . ”.
The 29-year-old is an underwriter for a general insurance company, a promotional coordinator, and recently qualified as a make-up artist, all to support her role as mother, a “very life-changing” experience.
“It is a matter of scheduling, balancing, managing a busy career and having to take care of him financially . . . learning to prioritise certain things like what is necessary over what is a want . . . having not only to care for yourself but also for someone who does not have the capacity as yet to care for himself.”
For her, childbirth was not an enjoyable experience after “a pretty smooth pregnancy”. And she did not at all like the idea of having to put her life on hold.
Since Jayden entered the picture, life has been “a bit different” but not complicated.
She is satisfied. “I still have the job done at the end of the day, because a baby requires things.
“Where the change came about with me is that as a young person you leave secondary school, you have goals, you want to do so many things and then you get into a career and turn into everybody else, where you just work, collect a pay cheque and come home and it becomes very samey-samey.”
“What Jayden did for me was give me that extra push I needed to kick back up my motivation and get it started again, wanting to get more things, wanting to elevate, wanting to be a better me because a better me means a better him. I can see his purpose, hence me going and qualifying in make-up and starting a new chapter in my life.”
Before Jayden was born, Charlene could not visualise herself breast-feeding a child for any prolonged period. In fact she loathed the idea, and in her mind worked out a limit of three months for this part of motherhood.
Now, having gone through the experience she says, “breast-feeding was such a bonding experience. I would say it was one of the most pleasurable parts of motherhood because he breastfed up to only shortly before he turned a year”.
“Coming home on evenings from work, especially after going back after maternity leave and missing him so much, and having him cling on to me and caressing me, it was such a different type of intimacy that I was not aware of. It was just a joy.”
Above and beyond everything she says she has learnt is “the unconditional love you can have for another person”.
“I am the last of four and that puts you in a pretty selfish position because everything was always revolving around you. Having the tables turned and it being on me is life-changing.”
The team of promotional representatives Charlene employs work as brand ambassadors, representing products distributed by a local company. When she has night promotions, she reluctantly leaves her son behind with her mother who also cares for him when Charlene is away at work during the day. Her niece also lends a much-appreciated hand.
Charlene’s partner of ten years and Jayden’s dad, Jason Calderon, is also hands-on with his son. The toddler races to the door the moment he hears his father’s voice, to be swept up into Jason’s arms and taken for his customary and expected afternoon rounds about the neighbourhood.
Once a promotional representative herself and, until age 26, a dancer for the Pinelands Creative Workshop, Charlene now places her role as mother up front. “It is Jayden, Jayden, and Jayden,” she says.
For now “life is good. The sky is the limit” and as she once told a prospective employer, “I am here for a reason and that is my son. I can’t afford to fail.”
But she has no plans for more children. “I do not intend to repeat the unthinkable . . . . I will never do it again.”