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Celia – a juggling mum

NATANGA SMITH, [email protected]

Celia – a juggling mum

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CELIA CALLENDER, 38, calls herself a good juggler. She is mum to son Kyle Luke, age 11, who is a bundle of energy – likes bike riding, road and lawn tennis, chess and gaming. Celia has to balance that out with her business of planning and designing weddings (managing director of Marquee Events Inc.).

“Work and family can both be up in the air at times. Work sometimes is ramped up the same time school or family activities pick up. In Kyle’s early years, during the really busy wedding season, I would have three to four weddings a weekend. I used to leave home at 6 a.m. and didn’t see home until sunrise the following morning. I actually started this company in 2005 – that’s the same year he was born – so the juggling act had to be perfected very early. Thank God I haven’t dropped either one.”

Kyle just sat the 11-Plus exam, which was more stressful for mum than Kyle.

“Oh my gosh. Seeing your child develop into an intelligent, independent thinking person. When they are babies you always wonder what kind of personality they will have, and then as they grow it’s amazing to watch them make their own positive choices. Kids really do soak up everything, good and bad. As parents we have to make sure they’re exposed to more good than bad . . . . For me it was not just about doing ‘the’ exam, it makes you realise your child is transitioning, no turning back.”

Celia’s pregnancy was “uneventful – “aside from having to have injections because of the difference in our blood types, he was an easy baby to carry. I think he was saving up the surprises and energy for when he got out. His dad chose his first name. He had always liked the name Kyle and I agreed. I liked the alliteration: Kyle Callender. For the middle name we both liked the name Luke, but dad wanted it to be spelt the French way at first, Luc. With some persuasion he settled on the English spelling, albeit he was thinking Star Wars Luke but I was thinking Bible Luke,” she said, chuckling.

Celia has a routine set: “I do the breakfast prep to get him ready in time to catch dad for the morning run to school. Then the day is filled with either an event or planning for an event in any corner of the island. I make sure I can wrap up my dealings where possible to hustle for him for the evening pick up. If he’s got an after school activity, we head over to that. Then it’s food, homework completion, a bit of down time then off to bed . . . for him. Then work continues for me on the computer until whatever time.”

What pleases Celia is that Kyle has shown an interest in the business.

“Interacting with my son on a level where I know he is finally understanding what I have been trying to instil in him has been so rewarding. I’m not talking about schoolwork, just about life in general. He also likes to give me a hand with the business. He would help with a set-up or breakdown. He usually likes to get paid in food, so he’s an easy ‘employee’, for now,” she said, with another easy laugh.

Celia says motherhood has changed her, not only physically.

“I’ve changed physically and mentally. Physically the morphing your body goes through doesn’t stop when they are out. Mentally, I’m still trying to cultivate a patient attitude. I like to move quickly and focus on the task at hand, but when you’ve got a little one in tow, you learn to slow down a bit.

“I try to find down time now and again. After all, you are no use to anyone, if you do not take care of yourself. Planning and executing events involves long hours and strenuous work and your sleep and diet are the first to suffer. I usually take time to reset my body, which entails exercise and getting back into a healthy sleep pattern and diet.”

Celia said that previously when she was stretched her mum was instrumental in helping with Kyle. That support system isn’t there anymore as her mum passed suddenly last December, but at Kyle’s age he was able to fend for himself with certain stuff.”

Celia says her hardest part about parenting is making sure Kyle stays on the straight and narrow path: “Teaching him how to maintain his individuality and how to choose friends wisely. I always tell him, real friends don’t encourage you to get into trouble. My greatest concern for Kyle is staying on the right path. The things he will be exposed to now – from sex to drugs and everything in between – were only whispered back in my day, but now they take centre stage among kids, no matter how you try to censor them.

“I want him to be tolerant of others’ decisions but strong enough to make his own positive ones and stick to them, don’t mind what’s popular.”

Celia says praying for Kyle is a daily practice.

“My mum drilled into us growing up, manners maketh man, woman, boy and girl . . . . It’s one that is becoming lost nowadays. I speak to him about common courtesy; even in business, I find a lot of adults are lacking that basic trait. If you’re going to be late, you tend to know before the time is passed. Don’t wait till it’s 20 minutes after, or worse . . . don’t call at all.

“I tell him to take pride in your work. If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time, so you don’t have to waste time doing it over. In my business of weddings, we can’t afford not to do things right the first time.” (NS)