My 20-month-old son Kyle is at that interesting stage of developing a sense of humour.
This week he told me, “I want milk.”
“You want milk?” I asked, just to make sure.
Sherwin Millington knows all too well what it is like to be a mother. Since Millington’s common-law wife walked out of the family circle four years ago, he has been raising his three children single-handedly. Every day, Millington, 41, ensures his children are fed, the house is spotless, the clothes are washed and homework is completed. Millington has been both mother and father to his three offspring Lishaughn, 13; Shondell, 12; and Sharona, nine, since 2010. It’s a job he takes great pride in doing.
Today, while millions of children around the world will be showering their moms with gifts and love on Mother’s Day, Millington said he plans to spend the day simply, surrounded by his little ones.
At 5 am, Millington generally rises from his bed to prepare breakfast for his children and get them ready for school. Then he rushes to work at Marper Farms in Plum Road, Manzanilla, where he does odd jobs. After putting in eight hours of work, Millington returns to his Plum Road, Manzanilla, home to prepare dinner and clean the house. He also ensures that the children do their homework.
Millington admitted these duties were once performed by his common law wife, a stay-at-home mom, but after she left, he had to pick up the slack. “This was something I had never bargained for. I really got a rude awakening when I realised what I was faced with. At first it was difficult, juggling work and seeing after the kids. But in time, I learned to adapt.” Millington said he was now an expert in whipping up meals, cleaning his home, and doing the laundry; and he even plaits his daughter’s hair once a week.
Millington: My children are my strength
On weekends, Millington said, the children are given chores which teach them responsibility and how to manage a home when they become adults. Millington’s eldest son Lishaughn helps in the kitchen, while Sharoda washes the dishes and sweeps the house. Shondell would clean around their yard. “Just recently, I started to show Sharoda how to braid her hair. Daily, they are learning to do things on their own, and I could not be prouder.” He said his whole life is focused on his children—his pillars of strength.
“I don’t even go out the road to lime as I used to. Being both mom and dad to my kids really changed my life. It is not easy being a single parent, but the rewards are gratifying.” Millington said he also tries to impart moral and spiritual values in his children.
“When they step out of line, I am not afraid to crack a belt or two on them. I do not believe in sparing the rod and spoiling the child. If my children do something wrong that displeases me, I would first talk to them. If they fail to listen, then the licks would follow. I don’t want my children growing up out-of-hand.”
A blessing in disguise
His dual role has won him nothing but praises and admiration from his friends, neighbours, family members and co-workers. Though Millington’s children see him as the perfect role model and provider, he said he can never take the place of their mother. Millington admitted that his relationship with his children’s mother was not the best. “We had real pulling and tugging at home,” Millington recalled, while sitting on a wooden bench in front of his home.
“Then one day, I was sitting in a hammock under the house when she come and say she leaving me. I did not put up a fight.” Thinking he would not have been able to raise the children on his own, Millington said, he took them to a female relative hoping she would have taken care of them. Millington said the relative advised him to give the children up to the State. “I couldn’t turn my back on my flesh and blood. I chose to keep my children, and to this day, I have no regrets. Probably this was a blessing in disguise.”