Forced into single motherhood : After Germaine’s passing Shari-Dee focuses on her boys and business

Stephanie Lyew

May 4, 2022

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Shari-Dee Barker

The sounds of Jelani and Gemari playing and laughing are all that Shari-Dee Barker wants to hear in a world that is filled with a lot of distracting noise.

Shari-Dee, who is now based in Florida, is mother to the children of Germaine Mason, Jamaica’s national record holder in the high jump event and Olympic high jump medallist, who met in a fatal bike accident on the Palisadoes strip five years ago. Last month, on a visit to Jamaica, she and the boys released balloon angels in his memory.

It’s a difficult task for any mother to tell her children that their father will not be around to celebrate milestones and achievements, but amid the crushing pain of losing her best friend, her lover and supporter, she has figured out how to live the life of a single mother and to parent the boys through grief while also teaching them how to love Mason despite him being gone.

“He taught me so much in life and so much more in death and if I was to choose one of the most important things he taught me, I would have to say, cancel out the noise and stay focused,” Barker told Flair. “Also, to always look at the bigger picture and not to derail from my goals. We always shared that passion in pursuing my own businesses and when I would come up on roadblocks, he was always very encouraging,” she continued.

Cancelling out the noise, though, took a lot of strength and her second pregnancy suffered when she almost allowed the “darkness” to engulf her. She was three months pregnant when Mason passed away.

“I don’t like to say I was being strong for my son [Jelani],” she said, “but that I was trying to make sure he wasn’t feeling any of the pain I was feeling. I was trying to make sure he was okay but at the same time, I almost somewhat neglected my pregnancy because I wasn’t in a good place or doing what I had to do in terms of physically.”

Barker didn’t go to the doctor until she was eight months in, and at that point, no one wanted to take on such a late pregnancy. “When I finally got a doctor to see me, there were complications or indications that a lot was going on with him. I was in a dark place but that, that gave me the wake-up call I needed and I couldn’t do anything physically at that point but pray. Family prayer turned the pregnancy around. Gemari is a miracle pregnancy because he was born healthy.”

It was never her dream to raise children alone and though not mentally prepared, Shari-Dee was not going to allow another dream to become clouded.

“It was never the plan to be a single mother … but as cliché as this sounds, I really do believe that you’re never given anything you can’t handle. You just have to pull up your socks and do what you have to do. I have always wanted to be a mother. As a little girl that was my thing, I pictured myself with six [children]. It might sound strange but that is my personality – fun-loving, empathetic and nurturing by nature – I love children,” she said. “I am trying to find that balance between being a mom and managing my business, because they are both so important.”

She said that there were fears at first, and she admitted that she thought she would fall short in some areas, “because I felt boys need a father … but that’s out of my control”.

Germaine and Shari-Dee in happier times, as they awaited the arrival of their first son Jelani.

“When you lose somebody and you look back, you realise conversations mean so much more to you and there is so much to pick from conversations even when they weren’t intentional. So, there are things we shared about raising kids in everyday conversations so I do know a lot of what Ger would want to instil in them, which are similar to my values and principles so they come natural coming from me.

“The most I can do is be the best mother I can be and try to find that balance and try to give that support I can give as much as I can in terms of compensating, I’m not scared anymore, I’m fully trusting God and so far, so good. I’ve been through so much and God has proven himself to me, that he would put people there to support me, my family is so supportive.”

She shared that her faith is extremely important to her and that she acknowledged that her children and the business are gifts from God.

“I had to trust Him, to allow God to fully work through me in them. God is my best friend; he is the reason I’m still going.”
She formulated the Gem Beauty Collection, a natural, plant-based skincare product line, out of a need to find a solution for her skin breakouts but it transformed into much more.

“Once I became an entrepreneur, I put myself on a schedule – time for customer service, packaging, and production – I have learnt to delegate. Though it’s small business, it is still pulling the volumes and at one point I was just working around the clock, specifically when I got my very first big wave of orders, I worked in the day, through the nights and did this for weeks and I didn’t have much energy to mother or do anything else. Now, work is work and when work is over, it’s over. I have to be available for my children, it had to be done.”

“I’m all about taking care of yourself, call me a self-care enthusiast, I enjoy encouraging other people to take care of themselves and not falling victim of their circumstances but making the most of themselves, living their purpose and relax and enjoy life and that’s where I am right now in my life and enjoy my blessings,” Shari-Dee said.

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com

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Stephanie Lyew

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