Despite her demanding career, Cash Mandi, a single mother, has a strong bond with her 13-year-old son. This has seen her son, Taji Mandi ,grow into an all-rounded teenager who has excelled in extra-curricular activities, school work and has no problem doing house chores
Grace Wachira @yaa_grace
The first time that Cash Mandi held her baby in her arms in an America hospital, 13 years ago, she instantly fell in love with him. She couldn’t stop looking at the bundle of joy, who would give her the title of a mother.
“When I was expectant, I used to listen to his heartbeat daily with a home baby sound projector and loved how he kicked in the stomach. When he finally came, I did not let him out of my sight at all.
I would follow the nurse everywhere she went with him. I had heard of horror stories of babies being stolen and swapped in American hospitals, so I was being vigilant. Fortunately, these days, mother and baby are tagged with bands, which automatically set alarms off if you go anywhere near the stairs, a window or exit door before being checked out,” she recalls.
Cash had gone to the US in the year 2000 to further her education and later got a job. She came back to Kenya in 2008. Though she wouldn’t divulge the details of the father of her child or the relationship that they shared, one thing is certain, Cash is a proud mum.
Getting things covered However, she admits the journey has not been easy, especially since she is a career woman. “I’m a journalist and it’s hard to be away all day only to see your child in the evening, especially when a child is a toddler or in pre-school. It’s even harder for me because I sometimes have to work on weekends and late evenings covering and attending events, or doing photo-shoots at a time when I hoped to spend with him,” she sighs.
Sometimes, she has to travel for days. But she makes sure to remain in touch through video calls when she’s away.
She also ensures that they pray together on the phone before he sleeps before wishing him a goodnight.
And now that Taji is a teenager, Cash is sure there are issues he would rather speak to a man about. As such, Cash looks up to her brothers who are also close to her son. “That way, he can freely call to speak to them.
He also has older cousins who he knows he can turn to anytime. I know he needs a male figure in his life, so that is already covered” she says. Because she knows that her son is a budding teenager, she allows him to be and don’t smother him.
“I do not crowd his space, but I ensure he knows that I love him and whenever I can, I reassure him and encourage his interests,” Cash says. Teenage hood can be a challenging stage for both a mother and child, but Cash is happy that her son has not turned difficult.
“It is important to create a strong relationship with children when they are young. I have cultivated a strong bond with my son that I want him to treasure even in the years to come,” she says. “He understands that actions in life have consequences.
He has rules that he must follow regarding, homework, chores and time keeping. He has duties at home to wash his clothes, polish his school shoes, make his bed, clean and tidy his room, among others,” she adds. Cash is alive to the fact that the boy-child is more predisposed to societal vices.
“We are staunch Christians. Attending Sunday School has helped him grow spiritually. He is now going through the Ropes (Rights of Passage Experiences) course, which is a year-long Christian learning for 13-year-olds. This would also help with the transition into adulthood,” she explains.
Her son is laid back, but loves sports. “He’s sporty; he has played handball, chess and has a brown and black belt in martial arts, swims and sprints for his school. In fact, he is the goalkeeper of his football school team,” she beams.