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Sunday, April 2, 2017 guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
WOW MAGAZINE | A3
Teaches a Thing or Two
making the best of Single Parenting
The life of a single parent (mother) is
plain flat out stressful! You are constant-
ly trying to balance work, finances, your
health, behavioural shifts in children, keep-
ing up with school schedules, getting go
sleep (which often times don't exist) etc.
You are overwhelmed and in a state of
almost permanent anxiety. When this hap-
pens, overtime you slowly but surely
become a silent emotional wreck and a
ripe candidate for perhaps some mental
This is what the National Center for Bio-
technology Information (NCBI), part of the
US National Library of Medicine (NLM), a
branch of the National Institutes of Health,
discovered during mental health studies
done in the US and in countries across the
Marsha Riley has been single parenting
even from the days she carried her daugh-
ter in the womb. She shared a bit about
the hardships and challenges she faced and
the sacrifices she made with the Facebook
group Chronicles of the Single Mother. But
she also shared how she triumphed over
those dark days and times, still being a
single parent. Today she hosts and produc-
es a unique parenting talk show. She owns
a coaching academy and spends her day
mentoring parents and children.
WOW magazine placed the very busy
Riley in the hot seat to find out just how
she did it.
WOW: Can you describe what the
challenges were individually to you as
a single parent? And how you coped
during that time?
MR: Basic luxuries that I often hear other
women complain about were never an
option. I held my own hair during morning
sickness. I never had cravings because there
was no one to do a late night grocery run.
I dragged myself to work during pregnancy,
get up and just get it done. When Jess came
there was never anyone to hold my crying
baby when food needed to be cooked, or a
bath needed to be had.
I have never been one to complain and
honestly I never really felt that being a
single mom was stressful. I just got on with
time for a pity party.
The only time things became really tough
was when my daughter started school and
all her friends came from traditional homes.
She started asking for more emotionally
and I simply did not have the answers. I
couldn't magically make a dad appear now
could I? So I did what any crazy person
would do. I sold my house and became a
full time mom. I was determined to be the
best mom and dad I could be and give her
the time she deserved.
Were you aware that single parents
were more at risk to developing men-
tal and emotional disorders?
I was not. I can see why, but up until
last year I did not understand or empathize
with mental illnesses to be honest.
I've always been a go getter so I never
see challenges. I just do what needs to be
done and I allow myself very little time for
The more I worked with other mothers
I realized that the get up and go mentality
was not very empathetic and as God would
have it he put me through a bout of men-
tal illness to help me understand.
Last year I was diagnosed with a hyper
active thyroid, a condition that can cause
panic attacks, depression and anxiety dis-
orders. While tests were still on going, I
had very little control over how I felt. No
bad mind, no toughen up and get going.
For the first time I understood that some
people simply cannot do it and it has noth-
ing to do with inner strength. Their hor-
mones are simply not working as efficient-
ly as everyone else's.
Did you have any support through
family or friends?
My little brother was my rock in the early
days. He was not employed, so he did the
school runs. When he decided to go get a
job it was like my world came crashing
down. These are the simple things many
women take for granted.
One of my hockey friends would come
over now and just clean the house for me.
In fact she is still a huge support system.
Many people assume that you want baby
I want a break from chores, not from my
kid. Send me your house keeper.
We recalled you mentioned quitting
a job just to be with your daughter
more. Can you describe what making
that sacrifice was like and what imme-
diately followed after taking such a
That bit I think was the hardest part of
my journey. The reports talk about single
moms being at risk of mental health. Well,
I'd like to see what's the risk of entrepre-
As if playing mom and dad weren't
enough. The role of businessman is ten
I left a really great career. We did sever-
al trips a year. Jess attended a prestigious
private school and we wanted for nothing.
Then one day she had to learn how to
eat whatever we could afford. I will always
remember one day driving home and we
were both so hungry but I had no money
in my wallet so we could not stop for any-
thing and when we got home, the options
weren't great there either.
I've always looked at the struggles as a
blessing though. I may have had a spoilt
brat on my hands without this period of
Let's talk about your talk show on
parenting. What is it called, what are
the topics, and where can one tune in
to benefit from it?
The show is called CARE Parenting. Lats
season we covered topics like home-school-
ing, childhood trauma, post partum depres-
sion and divorce. All the episodes are avail-
able on my website - www.marshariley.com
The show is moving to a bigger, better
location, so be sure to follow me on social
media to find out.
From single parenting to mentoring
parents and children. How did this hap-
God had a plan I guess. I did not grown
up financially rich and I guess some would
say that I made it in the corporate world
so I have always mentored. I wrote a book
two years ago called "If I Can, You Can
Too." It tells the story of people like Keshorn
Walcott and how he went from doing odd
jobs to afford training to winning Olympic
The book tours allowed me to see the
harsh realities facing our nation's families
and I couldn't turn my back.
After working with the kids I felt as though
I was wasting my time because their parents
many times would undo everything I did
when they got home. That's when I decid-
ed to start at the root. If we can reach
parents, then we can fix our society's prob-
lems one and for all. I wanted to get to the
source and that's with the parents.
Please share with us how you over-
came your challenges and what was
the very moment you decided that no
matter what you just had to rise above?
I decided to be an overcomer long before
parenthood. The day my mother left my
father's house in a cozy neighbourhood and
moved us into a shack. That was the day
I decided to be an overcome no matter
As cliche as it sounds, my strength comes
from faith. As my challenges grew so did
my faith. Now I am often quarreling with
God because I know every time I face strug-
gle he is growing another part of me so I
often tell him "ah strong enough, go work
on someone else."
What advice do you have to give to
the single mom out there who is prob-
ably about to go off the deep end with
levels of stress derived from the pres-
sures and demands of being a single
Reach out for help. There is no shame in
needing help. Take care of yourself. Make
sure you are happy and healthy. Obviously
within reason...but I always say "I am a
selfish mom" (Go read my blog on that
Marsha having a ride with her daughter Jessie-Leigh. PHOTO: JASON AGUITON
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