Sunday, June 16, 2013
From what I have heard my Dad loved me very much and would have been extremely proud of my athletic abilities. These are comments I heard in my tween years, from a select few who were in my moms life and were comfortable or allowed to share with me memories of my dad. From what I have been told my mom and dad were a loving couple but when I was about age 3 to 4 something went wrong and they were not so loving. By the time I was 5 my Dad was no longer in the picture. For years I assumed he left because of me, then I thought he left because he didn’t want a family…. then I gave up and didn’t care because what difference did it make?
It wasn’t until I became an adult that I started to question and when my questioning became a little to close to home for my mom she shut down and said in so many words “he’s gone let it go.”
My mom and Dad were not a couple from before my kindergarten year, in 1985 I felt the need to spread my wings and tell my mom “I don’t want to live with you I want my dad.” She handed me the phone and said “here you go here is the number for your aunt Lilia. She may know where your Dad is“…. I dialed, I spoke and I listened…. “oh dear…didn’t anyone tell you???…. Your dad died a year ago tomorrow!” I dropped the phone went pale white and started to cry….why???? I am not sure because I never knew this man.
In the years since my mom’s death I have begun to question a lot…. Most of all what was real and what wasn’t…. I’ve come to understand that I don’t and never will have the “full story” of my dad’s departure or the relationship my mom and dad shared.. That left this earth for good when my mom died nearly 3 years ago…
What I do know is that as a parent you don’t just walk away and not care at all… this is a human being whom you have created but circumstances may not allow you to spend your time with them….
This fathers day I am going to embrace my dad…. Why after 35 plus years???? Because it isn’t worth trying to figure out anymore…… and the few photos I do have say to me my dad loved me….
So happy Fathers Day Robert Francis O’Toole I hope I made you proud and thank you for being my dad…..
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 1:03 AM
Monday, May 20, 2013
Lauren has a love for all things music and dance. This year she tried out for a speaking roll in the School Production of The Enchantment of Beauty and the Beast, and she won the roll of the singing chair here are some highlights ..........
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 6:08 AM
Friday, May 17, 2013
in my short life to carry this baggage in the most stealth and compact way as possible, getting lucky enough some days to off load a dress or 2 along the way.
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 1:27 PM
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Its been a while, I wish I had more time to write, I find it mind clearing and therapeutic. In the days when I was blogging I found it to be such an incredible universe. I connected with some amazing people all of whom I have lost contact with over the years.
While the reasons for me no longer blogging are all good for the most part, my family has expanded and my career has taken me to positions I never thought possible. All of these things are great, but it makes the world spin too fast at times.
I miss the creature comforts of my old life, when I had the time for writing, running, reading, being lazy, and enjoying my friends.
I have lost my way over the years, I have gotten off my normal “type A” routine and it has thrown me for a loop I feel as though I am not grounded and just traveling haphazardly through life.
I have enjoyed the carefree, go with the flow life I have lead in the recent past, but it is time for me to get back to basics, back to what made me successful.
In my world to be comfortable is to be lazy, I have been comfortable for too long and while it was great to let my hair down a little, it has proven to me that I am weak and in need of constant discipline.
My first focus in the next several weeks is to get back to running and working out seriously. I owe that to myself. If I’m not feeling healthy it throws everything off for me.
Next is to be there more for my kids. They are growing up before my eyes and I feel like I am missing out. Before I know I they will be gone and I will say “where did the time go?”
I need to reconnect with those I have lost touch with while I have been “too busy” with life. In that I mean go back to basics a simple call to say hello, a date for a drink or dinner to say you still mean the world to me.
Finally, I need to get happy with me, in that I need to continue to slay the demons that still lurk in my head. I am sure that will be a never ending process, but I need to get to a point where I once was where I am not consumed with guilt for things I have done in my life. Easier said than done but a goal nonetheless.
Hopefully I will find the perfect balance and life will fall back in place……
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 9:43 PM
Sunday, December 16, 2012
I like to say I have been lucky…...some tell me I have worked hard. I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
My upbringing, has had it good and bad effects on my adulthood. Some of the negatives are I am not an emotionally engaged person., I tend to move things too fast and I surely don’t know when to say when. While I do show emotion and compassion, I do it at the moment and I move on. I’m a bit of a “suck it up you will be fine” person, I like to think I have gotten better as the years have passed but it is still and will be a work in progress. I am driven, while most would consider that good it has had it’s ill effects for me, I don’t know when to say enough is enough.
Growing up I always wanted to please, in order to please, I thought I had to do everything better than anyone else. I fell short in a lot of categories the main one being my education. I was never an A student. I was average and average was me really trying my best. I struggled in school, my struggle was not just because I wasn’t applying myself it was because I was missing some of the key fundamental foundations needed to succeed. I learned to compensate and I got by. However I was always bothered by it, I knew I was capable I just wasn’t able to prove it in the classroom.
So I turned to things I was good at, sports, work, and a host of other things. I excelled in sports, I was relentless, always trying to get to the next level, always trying to be the best. I was driven, very driven. This was my first taste of success growing up. I loved the praise and that I was finally able to make my mom happy.
As the years went on and I became an adult I continued to hone in on that drive, I applied it to everything, work, friendships, charity work, relationships…you name it I was going to concur it. I was going to prove I was the best and I was worthy of love and praise.
My hard work has come with a price at times, but for the most part came with great success. I have accomplished way more in my 40 short years than I could ever imagine. I have become a wife and mother of 3, I have volunteered with numerous organizations and I have been recognized for my volunteer achievements. I have been with a company nearly 15 years in which I have risen from a clerk type position to Vice President.
Yet I continue to want more….achieve more….. And I have had to ask myself why??? The person I was trying to prove I was worthy to is gone. I am driving myself into the ground trying to prove I can handle anything.
Recently I started to realize my success has come at a price, a price which has caused me recently to be less involved at home, less engaged in my own personal health, and most importantly less committed to those who I call friends.
A new year is just upon us and I am making a commitment to be a better mom, a better friend and most importantly better to myself. I don’t need to continue to climb mountains to prove who I am. I need to focus on maintaining who I am now and who I have become otherwise I fear I will be left with nothing.
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 11:29 AM
Saturday, December 15, 2012
The tragedy of the shootings in Connecticut is surreal……. I was at my daughters elementary school when I received the news alert there had been a shooting at an elementary school. At first in my mind I thought what a shame…thinking some child had found their parents gun and brought it to school and there was an accident.
I was horrified to learn as the morning went on that this was no accident but was the work of a someone who was very emotionally unbalanced. I felt a knot forming in my stomach for all those poor parents who were rushing to the scene and would be told their child didn’t make it.
What has happened to the innocence that once was childhood??? As a parent I have been horrified at the shear lack of innocence my kids have. Is it their fault….. no it isn’t! Over the last 20 to 25 years society and technology have played a huge roll. Kids are exposed to events and circumstances we and our parents were never exposed to while growing up.
I remember growing up being allowed to roam free outside for hours on end, no cell phones, beepers, or texting devices to keep me in constant contact. I was given a watch and told to be home at a certain time or else. I was also somewhat self policed in that I knew there were people who would tell my mom if I was up to no good and I had a certain sense of healthy fear of my mom and the grown ups around me.
We as parents have lost some of our parental power when it come to disciplining our children. These days as parents we are hyper vigilant about what we say and how we say it., how we discipline and when. While I am not advocating verbal or physical abuse I do think a healthy fear between child and parent should exist. This is coming from someone who had an extraordinary fear of my mom and the discipline she bestowed on me.
The internet and social media has made it difficult to gage what are kids are and aren’t seeing, while I can monitor my children I can’t monitor those friends who my children interact with on a daily basis. Some would say this is not a new problem, as this same issue existed 20 to 25 years ago as well. I would agree with that, however the difference is today we have way to much to occupy our time therefore cutting the time we have with our kids short and in essence cutting our parenting of them.
I know I am guilty of this, working fulltime in a demanding job has taken away some of my parental time, my selfish need to have me time has taken from my parental time, my inability to say no to people has taken from my parental time. This is something I am going to work hard to change moving forward.
The events of yesterday leave me sick to my stomach, not just for the parents and families who lost loved ones but for the innocence lost for small children. Growing up I was always taught there were certain places which were always considered safe havens. Hospitals, Fire stations, police stations, churches and schools. Sadly after the events of yesterday schools have become less safe for me and my children.
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 10:45 AM
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
So with my crazy life I don’t have much time for TV…. So when I do watch TV it is usually is only for an hour or so and it is usually something I have DVRed. So here it is I DVR Days of Our Lives. I have been a fan since I was 13 much to my mother’s disliking. I was even that kid in college who scheduled her classes around the show.
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 8:57 PM
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
There are friendships which have been there forever like the girl you knew in Kindergarten that you still know but you really don’t “know” her. She’s your oldest friend in the sense that she is the person you have known for the longest period of time.
Some friendships last for a certain period of your life and they are meaningful for the that period….and then they fizzle in their own time. Like the person you knew in college that was your wingman or wing woman all those nights you headed out to the bars.
There are friends who you are acquaintances of ….. You know soccer parents, school parents, pool parents… these are the friends you are sociable with but don’t quite let into your inner circle.
Then there are those friendships which are long in length and meaning…. The person who has seen most of your ups and downs who has been there to hold your hand when you are about to give birth to holding your hand when you learn the unthinkable has happened in your marriage. Who will always be there no matter how much time passes.
And in some cases there is that friendship which blossoms into love, some of these friendships turn into happily ever after… but sometimes they turn into what could have been if we had met at a different time and place.
Rarely do these friendships endure, they run their course and then fade into the background of life.
But what happens when they don’t????? You find that friendship is something you can’t live without, you try to end it but then realize you can’t possibly walk away from this person totally. Even if they can’t be your happily ever after they will and need to be a part of your ever after.
I have that person in my life and I find myself to be completely blessed to have them. I don’t understand it and we drive each other nuts, we couldn’t be more alike if we were brother and sister. Which bodes not so well for us sometimes, since I have been one to be an all or nothing friend and person.
These are fragile relationships, they can easily be blown apart and it takes strength and courage to keep them going. Strength to endure the lows and courage to endure the highs.
I have been fortunate to find that person and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I can depend on this person for life and my life is forever better for having met them.
Thank you FWIG for coming into my life and here is to the rest of our lives, sorry you aren’t getting rid of me anytime soon ……but we really do need to learn how to fight better J
Friends for Life FWIG!!!!!!
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 9:24 PM
Monday, October 22, 2012
I remember being the kid who would listen to the radio and have the tape player that was hooked up to the receiver ready to go ….and then feverishly pressed record in the hopes of getting a recording of the latest most popular songs.
I remember making mix tapes to give to boyfriends where I had drawn big hearts and I love yous all over the cassette cover. I remember making mixes to get me all hyped up for a big game ….and Ok I admit I do still give people the gift of music but in the form of a CD and my hearts and bubble writing have been replaced by the itunes tune song listing.
I remember putting cassettes into my car tape deck and being devastated when it got eaten up or melted because it was 100+ degrees. Those scenarios would mean going back and making a tape all over again or ……or sweetly ask the person who made it for yu to make it again because you loved it so much.
Music has always been there for me, but this trip I sat and listened, I listened to what the words said and what they meant to me. I reflected on the time in my life the song was meaningful. I also shuddered as I thought about all the bad wardrobe and hairstyle choices I made at those times in my life.
Music has a way of saying, I love you to the depths, I’m sad, I‘m lonely, I’m hurting, I’m mad, and the best I’m so happy I am going to sing at the top of my lungs.
While I spared the people on my flight the sing at the top of my lung songs I did listen to all the others and it made me sad and happy all at once.
I have been blessed in so many ways, even the bad stuff in my life has been a blessing and some of those songs reminded me of that.
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 6:08 AM
Thursday, October 18, 2012
My oldest are now in 3rd and 5th grade. Jackson made a school switch this year to an Advance Academic Program (AAP). I was nervous about this change not only because he would be leaving his social comfort zone and the friends he had made over the last 3 years but also because I knew this program was going to be challenging. I had spoken to many parents before we made the decision to send Jackson, all of them said they felt the program was wonderful. Some of them warned the amount of work would be significant, and intense.
Jackson has always been able to do his work without much effort. Which is one of the reasons we felt this program would be a good thing for him. We knew that he wasn’t being challenged and that could lead to discipline issues which we were starting to see the latter part of 2nd grade. Since the first day in September he has been challenged. I have found there have been some days when he is completely frustrated. Not because he can’t do the work but because the work is coming at him full speed ahead. This year they will cover not only 3rd grade math but all of the 4th grade math as well. They are learning and applying the scientific method!
This past weekend when I was going through his backpack even I had my breath taken away when I reviewed his spelling words. Below is the this list. Now keep in mid this is 3rd grade!!!
Holy Smokes…..right??? I will be keeping a close on eye Jackson in the weeks and months to come because I want to ensure this program is not too much for him and he isn’t being pressed well beyond his limits. I have no doubt he will be fine but I worry to that he could become overwhelmed as we have always stressed achieving good grades.
I’ll keep you posted.
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 10:48 AM
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
I need to get my running mojo back. It’s been too long and I have made running commitments that I have not been able to make and that is SO not me. So it is time to get back to it and I need your help to keep me honest and motivated.
I have always been a winter running I am much founder of running in the cold instead of the heat. I plan to start with 3 days a week and get my base back to something respectable.
First step on my running return is to be able to effortlessly run the Girls on the Run 5k with my oldest daughter Lauren in mid November. We ran this race last Spring and we both had a great time and I was so happy she got bit by the running bug!
I need to have a race for me to gear up for so I am looking at the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February. I have run this race before and I love everything about the weekend. I would most likely be going without family so I would really like to meet some folks virtually who are going and then meet up at the race. If your planning on running please let me know.
I have toyed for 2 years now with a marathon and both times I have been sidetracked either by injury or lack of training. There is a Rock and Roll Marathon in March here in DC and while I am not committing to it yet I think it would be awesome if I could get there.
So if you are runner and you like chatting with other runners and better yet like to encourage other runners I need your help!!!
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 8:01 AM
Sunday, October 14, 2012
I used to think the reason my mom was so angry all the time was because she was doing the parenting thing all alone. I mean lets face it being a single parent is no easy task. There is no one to defer to when you can’t take it anymore… no one to pick up the slack when you aren’t feeling well…..no one to give you some much needed adult time…..and no one else to contribute to the household income. All or just one of these issues can cause an enormous about of stress.
I just spent 10 days doing the single parent thing while Dan was on a business trip.. At no point in time did I consider to act in such a way that my kids would be afraid or upset with me. Were there days or moments I was frustrated …sure I would be lying if I said no but you know what its part of the territory…its called being a parent.
So for years I just assumed my moms anger was really frustration from raising a child alone. I think for years I knew that wasn’t really the case but I kept hoping that was the case….wishing that was the reason because otherwise in my mind it was me. When I say me, I mean that she had such distain… such hate…. for me personally and not just the concept and reality of parenting. It’s a scary feeling as a child to not understand where someone ones anger comes from, it also causes the person on the receiving end to change their ways and that can be damaging as well. It took me years to figure out, while yes my mom was overwhelmed with the task of single parenting it was not the complete reason for my moms anger.
As I have shared my mom had a number of outbursts which resulted in the removal and most time destruction of something I loved. As child there is not much you can do and you are not equipped to understand why. All you know is you caused your mom to be angry and she was so angry she took something you loved and not only took it way but destroyed it in front of you.
As I got older there were less possessions to destroy and instead it was the my mind and self esteem that were attacked. There were still some things which were destroyed, like the time that my mom made dinner had it all set on the table and I said something smart like “what is that?” referring to the food on the table and my mom lost it. She took each plate one by one and while yelling obscenities threw each plate on the floor. From there she went to the stove and threw each pot on the floor. All the while yelling at me. I stood crying and trying to stay out of the way of flying plates and food. When all was finally said and done my mom told me to clean up the mess and she better not see a drop of food anywhere in the kitchen. When I tell you food and glass was everywhere that doesn’t do it justice. I spent nearly 3 hours cleaning the kitchen all the while my mom standing or sitting near me in my ear about how all of it was my fault and if I learned to be more respectful none of this would have happened.
As I grew older and was able to drive, I was able to get out of the house which I did a lot. Being out of the house and with others gave me a sense of being normal, it was an escape. The problem was my mom was very controlling of my whereabouts. She knew when I had to be at school, when school let out, when my sports practices started and ended, there was very little free time on my hands unless I made time myself. Be it skipping a class, lying about a practice, going to the library or hanging out with a friend. It was the only independence I was able to get. I never did anything wrong with this time it was simply my way to hang with friends or alone and try to escape and feel normal.
I remember one time I said I was going to the library to study, I did go to the library to study but I knew I was not going to be there 2 ½ hours as I had said. So once I was done at the library I went to my boyfriends house to hang out for a bit. All I was doing was watching TV with my boyfriend and his family. I left to go out to my car and found a note on my car. It was from my mom and it said You liar, you are a s*ut! Written in lipstick, I shook the whole way to my house. Once I hit the door the I was called every name you can imagine and then some. Words like whore, slut, were thrown at me freely, not to mention all the MF and F bombs you can imagine. This was not unusual, as a matter of fact this went on well into my 20’s. If my mom was not able to reach me she immediately went to the assumption I was up to no good and did all she could to not only make me believe such accusations, but also admit to them.
By now you are asking did you fight back? Why didn’t you just leave? Well yes I did fight back, I defended myself, I even cursed back at her hoping to prove my point to no avail. I was always wrong and she always won out because she had the sharpest tongue. Add to that she had convinced me I would be no better than dirt because of my shenanigans (which she had decided I was up to) I was to beaten down to believe otherwise.
When someone in your life is angry the usual response for most is to figure out why and help them through it, if you are the source of their anger you do what you can to ease that anger, and in the future you do what you can to mitigate it. Over many years this translates into becoming a pleaser and in some cases (mine) a doormat for someone‘s anger and emotion. I became, and in some respects still am the ultimate pleaser and doormat. There was a point in my life I was consumed with doing things bigger and better all in the hopes of pleasing those around me, to me pleasing someone was a way to keep people happy no matter what the cost was to me. Don’t get me wrong the accolades which come with pleasing people became a sort of a high because I never received that praise from my mom. The benefit of being a pleaser also was that I was driven to do more and go farther then I would have had I not been. So while there was good there associated with being a pleaser there was also bad, I never learned how to slow down because slowing down meant not going to the next level, I never learned to say no and be ok with my choice. It always came with a pang of guilt that I was letting someone down. As for the doormat part of the equation I was that for my mom I took all she dished out and it wasn’t until I was older that I started to push back, but the fact is I was her doormat for 38 years. While I have been pretty good in my life not to be that for other people there are times when I have and it can rattle me to my core because I know I am not that person and I have gone to great lengths and at times lost relationships because I refuse to take crap off people, such is the cross I bare.
All in all while my mom was not perfect by any means and there a many many parts of my childhood and adult relationship with her I wish I did not have to endure it has made me who I am and I have been lucky to surround myself with people in my life who understand and have encouraged me to utilize the positive and let the negative go.
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 8:55 AM
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
I was never supposed to make anything of myself…….. in 5th grade I struggled with my reading and my spelling that academic struggle continued well into my college years. Quite the contrast from 3rd grade where I always received hundreds on my spelling tests……what changed? I wish I knew…..
I can recall all my elementary years vividly but none more than second grade, see about 2 months into 2nd grade my life changed. I was sent to live with a woman I did not know. I was told it was because mom needed to deal with some issues, I thought is was because she was dealing with her divorce from my father. At least that is was my memory is of that time. However I am not sure how that makes sense…… my father to my knowledge never threatened my well being so I can only assume my mom just couldn’t cope.
How did I end up in Concord MA with some woman I didn’t know?? The principle of my school Sr. Maureen had befriended my mom., I was attending St Mary’s Elementary school. Apparently they formed a bound and Sr. Maureen had an amazing sister who was willing to take me in for a period of time while my mom dealt with whatever it is she needed to deal with without me around.
I arrived in Concord and was provided my own room in a HOUSE, not just a house a house on a cul de sac. I was able to go to public school which meant I got to wear my own clothes and not a uniform. I was able to ride my bike after school and I was able to have play dates, I was able to have sleepovers (I was never able to do that ever at mom moms house…EVER). The best part however was that I was given such a special gift…..a big brother. John was Helen’s only son and while he could have had every reason to hate me for crashing his happy home with his mom he didn’t. He accepted me as a younger sister and treated me as such. We yelled at each other, joked with each other, and we loved each other.
My 6 or so months in MA were some of the best of my childhood, I was accepted into the Clark/Minihane family as though I had been a part of it since birth. This family and its extended family was forever in my heart and in my mind. It was what I strived to have all my life.
I was lucky enough to be a part of the family for 6 more years until the unthinkable happened. John aka Jakie was taken from us way too soon. He was a Harvard Freshman, he had been given a motorcycle by his grandfather (papi as he was affectingly known). I’ll never forget pulling up to St Mary’s that fateful day. The assistant principle was looking for my mom’s car. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was freaking out a bit wondering what I had done because I knew she was looking for me and only me. I hadn’t done anything wrong. She was there to tell me John, my Jackie had been killed in an accident. I’ll never forget that day, it was one of the few days were we allowed to dress in our regular clothes and not our uniforms. All morning and the night before I had been concerned my outfit, would not be as preppy as the other kids??? but at that moment I was informed Jakie was gone all of that went out the window.
I spent the rest of the day in the school chapel, I tried to go to class but I just couldn’t handle it. It was the second time in as many years I had spent the entire day in the chapel but this time it was devastating and real.
Helen was kind enough to let me visit Concord again that summer, she took me to Johns grave even though I now know that had to be incredibly painful for her. Yet she did it for me so I could say my good byes.
I am not sure how or why we lost touch over the years, because Helen, John and the entire Minihane family has been in my heart for as long as I can remember.
After mom died I tried to locate Sr. Maureen as I thought it would help me find some of the answers I was searching for as they pertained to my mom. I looked though it was not as complete a search as I could have done. I did however find Helen’s Niece Julie who I held as a wee baby. She was kind enough recently to friend me and I was lucky enough to witness via face book her amazing wedding. It also allowed me to see some of the faces of the past and I can’t begin to express how comforting it was to me.
Looking at her photos of those I had know more that 30 years ago was bittersweet. It was though I was witnessing the happiness of the family I had always hoped to have.
So while my mom may not have always provided me the traditional family or a period of time she did and for that I Am forever appreciative, not to my mom but tot the amazing generosity of Helen and her family. They showed me the meaning of family, the happiness of family living, and instilled in me the hope that I would one day achieve all of it.
I have superseded most peoples expectations, even my own. I married well, I had 3 beautiful healthy children, I created a family unit I always wanted. I worked hard and achieved success in my career reaching executive status in my company before 40.
I owe a lot of that to not only my mother but to Helen Clark….she provide a window into what could be and I think eventually I decided to stop looking through the window but rather become a part of the action.
Thank you Helen and Jakie, I love you both with all my heart.
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 11:34 PM
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
How my mom and dad met was never relived to me. I have heard bits and pieces that they were out in CA together, which I have confirmed by some old banking info I found while going through my mom’s things…..aside from that I know very little.
It leaves me sad to know that I will never know the history of my mom and dad. Everyone likes to have the story of how their parents met even if in the end they didn’t stay together. In addition to not knowing how they met, I have only one side of how they split.
So my memories as a kid to 2 happy normal parents are a blur, mainly because I was so young when they were together. Keep in mind I am assuming they were happy for a period of time. There are no wedding pictures, no mementos, not even a marriage certificate I can find. So that tells me either she really wanted to forget him or maybe none of those fairytale memories ever existed.
My mom took a lot of pictures when I was growing up and she kept albums upon albums of them. I have a ton of pictures from the time I was a baby till I was in kindergarten. I guess it was because my mom was home with me and she was living the normal life of a married woman with a child. I look at those photos and I think wow that is a kid who was loved and adored and who seemed to have a happy comfortable life.
My life has not been horrible, in most ways it still reflects those happy times in those pictures from long long ago. But the road to where I am now vs. where I was then has been long and trying, I have had my fair share of breakdowns, roadblocks, and detours along the way.
Anytime you are in a crisis thoughts usually go to how am I going to get through this?...... is my life as I know it over?........ at least that has been my experience. Growing up I don’t think I understood that the breakdowns, roadblocks, and detours I was enduring were unique to other children my age. I instead looked at them as normal, everyone goes though these things right?
It wasn’t until I started to grow older and question those experiences that I became aware mine was not a “normal” life…. it was unique. Growing up the only daughter of a mom is challenging, because the mom is trying to be all things mom, friend, dad, mechanic, sports coach, cook, maid, the list can go on and on. However being the only child to a mom who has experienced so pain, anguish, anger and as I would later learn mental health issues has its own unique challenges.
So in my mind it was normal when I upset my mom that she would take it out on me or my things sometimes things I dearly loved. I had this great plastic guitar, I had had it since I was a toddler, there is even a picture somewhere of my playing it naked Well one day my mom got so angry at me for something she picked up that guitar and smashed it into a million pieces. I remember I sat their crying for what seemed like hours till I was told to clean up the mess.
Another time I had a Mrs. Beasley doll which was the same doll the little girl from the show Family Affair had. At the time, it was all the rage I assume, and to me it was my most prized baby doll. That is until one day when I did something to annoy my mother so much that she took the doll, ripped the head off in front of me, and then ripped the stuffing out. Mrs. Beasley died a cruel death do to something idiotic I did. Again, I cried and mourned my loss.
Right now you might be thinking well surely you did something so outrageous, so obnoxious which caused your mother to act that way. I can honestly say no I didn’t because if I did, surely that action would have stuck out in my mind and I would not have made the same mistake again.
When I was in grade school, I came home from school on my own. I had anywhere from 2 to 3 hours home by myself. In that time I would play with my toys, watch TV, maybe do homework, and like any growing kid eat. Eating was one of the first issues I had with my mom. See we didn’t have a lot of money but I was a growing girl, a growing tom girl, so I burned a lot of energy and calories. Now of course we as parents tell our children not to eat certain things or don’t allow them to eat at certain times because we don’t’ want them to point their dinner. Normal right?
I remember coming home from school and being hungry so I would eat a bologna sandwich sometimes 2, if that didn’t fill me up I might grab something else to hold me over until dinner. One day I ate the last of something, to this day I don’t know what it was but it was the last of it. My mom came home and at some point and during her dinner preparations would notice that item was gone. She questioned me and like any kid I said, “I ate it I was hungry”. That unleashed a screaming storm like no other. I was told I get plenty to eat and did not have to eat when I got home and that money didn’t grow on trees and that I was essentially stealing food. Yes, I said stealing food!! I am amazed to this day I don’t have an issues with food because as the years went on I would be punished severely for “taking food” to the point I started to hide what I had taken because I knew if my mom found out there would be hell to pay. Imagine being 9 and afraid to throw away the can of peas you just ate in the garbage because you knew you were going to get caught taking food. So what did I do? I hide those cans under my bed. Sure, the smell finally gave me away and I found other places to hide the trash but in my mind hiding the trash from the food items I had eaten was less of an issue then being called out every day for eating something I shouldn’t have. I took many a beating when my food trash treasures were found. But I wasn’t wasting food I was eating it because I was hungry. My mom couldn’t fathom what my problem was, so she put me in therapy.
Funny looking back, she was the one who was disciplining me with force and destroying my possessions but I was the one who needed to go to therapy. So once a week I would walk from school to the city’s mental health office where I would meet with Peter Mosley. My mom would pick me up from the office and sometimes participate in a session. However, it soon became clear that I was informing the therapist of things which were not true in my mother’s eyes or reflected poorly on her. There were many a time in those joint sessions where my mom announced this was a waste of time and I was a liar and stormed out. A couple of times she tried to slap me while we were sitting there to prove her point. At some point, the sessions stopped because no good was coming of them.
All of these everyday life experiences were ones I didn’t share because it was impressed upon me many many times that “what goes on in this house stays in this house” Essentially was to never speak about what happened behind our 4 walls.
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 3:35 PM
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Much of the time from mom’s departure from KY and her meeting my dad are a jumbled blur. Not because I have forgotten but instead because she chose to share only what she wanted and even then it was in spurts. As an adult I think I understand why but it is still a mystery to me why she never put the pieces of the story together so I could understand. It is important to know the paragraphs to follow are what I was told and in some cases may not be the actual truth but they are all I know.
My mother left for Cleveland OH not long after her High School graduation. She had said she needed to get out of the small town she lived in because everyone knows your business. Later, I would come to understand it was that they knew her business and it wasn’t always good business.
She left for Cleveland to attend John Carroll University, she attend for a year and then began working part time. At some point, she elected to work full time and forego College. During this time, my mom apparently led a very full social life. She would talk about going skiing and shorts trips in and around OH. At some point during her time in Cleveland things became dark so dark that my mom decided to take her own life. Clearly, she did not succeed as I am here to talk about it.
I remember the day I asked mom why she had scars on her wrists and forearms, she very matter of factly told me she tried to commit suicide. I was stunned, not because of what she told me but because suicide sounded like such a big important word, I was 7 at the time. It wasn’t till a few years later when I asked again that she shared she was hooked on (drugs)Valium because she had been dating a Dr who had been treating her, for waht I don't know. Apparently, the Dr was married and a subsequent break up ensued and mom couldn’t seem to cope. So she tried to take her own life.
I should mention that I believe mom was quite the social lady with the men. She never seemed to be in any photo from that time without a man in it. Typically the gentlemen were several years he senior as well.
I remember my mom speaking of someone by the name of little Barb, she would tell me “little Barb sent this to you” or “little Barb would have been 10 today” etc. Finally, one day I asked who little Barb was, my mom tried to brush me off but I was persistent like a gnat. 3 years after she came to OH, she became pregnant, to this day, I don’t know who the father was or how the relationship started or ended. Nor do I have a clear understanding of what happened to little Barb the baby she gave birth to in Feb 1967, my sister.
At some point while my mom was pregnant she because friends (or more, I don’t know) with a man by the name of Bill Jacoby. This man was many many years her senior and it is a mystery to me how they met and what their relationship was. I often wonder if he was the father of little Barb. Bill took my mom on many trips over the years evidenced by the tons of pictures and slide carousels I found after mom died.
What I do know of Bill is that he was clearly a very important man in my mom’s life; he had been introduced to her mother (Grandmother) and other family members in late 1967. Bill Moved to Alexandria VA in 1967 sometime and there are many letters between my mom and him which I found after her death. Mom eventually ended up in Alexandria living in the same apartment complex though not the same apartment as Bill. I am not sure that my mom ever knew that I put the pieces together that she and Bill did know each other in OH and did not just meet in VA, as she had claimed long before I found the letters to prove my theory.
Mom was engaged to be married to Bill from what I am told. In January 1969, my mom lost her grandmother the only mother she had ever known. She had a lot of guilt over her death because in a call to her grandmother before her surgery, she said to her “I Hope you die on the table” I don’t know why she said those words but they forever haunted her because her grandmother did die shortly after surgery. Then in December 1969 mom lost Bill he died of a heart attack.
Clearly, this woman had seen her fair share of tragedy even though she was only 26 years old. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. She had yet to meet my dad where more heartache ensued.
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 1:30 PM
Monday, May 14, 2012
I had been feeling irritated for a few days. I thought, it was just the virus I was battling.
Sunday morning it all came to a head. There I was 10am sitting in my living room with 3 kids. No happy mother’s day uttered from their lips.
My husband comes into the room with a gift “Happy Mother’s Day” The kids all say oh yeah happy mother’s day, “I have something for you but I don’t know where it is” says one of them.
I look at my husband, hoping he does. He says nothing.
And there is where my day took a turn.
They left for Church and as they walked out the door, I bawled. Not sure why but I did.
Then for some reason unknown to me, I got dressed and headed to my mom’s grave.
I hadn’t been to her grave since the late fall. The reasons for my lack of visitation were anger at her for what she had put me through all of my life.
I took flowers, cleared the headstone of grass debris and stay there bawling for an hour.
So many unanswered questions, so much anger, yet still some love there too.
I said my peace and it was time to leave, time to get on with my mother’s day.
I will one day learn to enjoy Mother’s days again, I am sure of it. But for now I will take it as a time to deal with my demons, the demons my mom left behind for me to battle.
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 10:20 AM
Sunday, April 22, 2012
My mom was born in Middlesboro KY July 29, 1943. She was the
only child of Stanly Bieniek and Emma Brimm Bieniek. My grandmother Emma
Bieniek died 3 months after giving birth to my mom. My grandfather Stanley
Bieniek came from a large extended family though his immediate family was limited
to just his mom by the time my mom was born. My grandfather’s mom, Nellie Stopinski
Bieniek was one of 9 children, her mother and father came from Poland and
settle in Middlesboro in the early 1900’s. My great grandmother played the role
of mom to my mother when her own mother passed. I relatively nothing about my mom’s
early years with her “mom”, she always called her grandmother mom because she
knew no different.
When mom was age 11 Stanley was shot in an accidental shooting which took place by lake. The shooter was my grandfathers girlfriend and it was ruled an apparent accident. It is my belief that this accident is what laid the foundation for my mother to become the person she became.
I had heard my mom tell the story several times, the girlfriend and her dad were having a fight she reached for the gun which was in my grandfathers glove box a struggle occurred and he was left dead. My mom shared with me that she harbored incredible angry towards the women as she felt her father’s death was not the result of an accident but rather intentional. She shared with me the dreams she had of one day killing this woman herself. She never acted upon it but she harbored an incredible about of anger.
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 3:03 PM
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
I think I knew from an early age that mine was not a normal
life, but I really never gave it much thought early on. As a small child my mom
and Dad did not live together during the week. My dad traveled for work and I
stayed home with my mom. Dad was home on the weekends and from the time I can
remember slept in the 2nd bedroom we had in our apartment. I think I
recall being told by mom that he slept there because he got in late and didn’t
want to be disturbed in the morning.
|My mom and I when I was 2|
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 6:46 AM
Thursday, March 22, 2012
So before I go baring my soul here I thought I would give you a brief update on the family and how things are going. It has been an eventful 18 months that is for sure.
My middle child Jackson is the best boy ever; no, I am not biased at all. He has a sweet caring sentimental side yet he knows how to be a rough and tumble boy. He is doing extremely well in school. We were notified earlier this school year that his test score are in the top 1% of his class and he is being recommended for the Gifted and Talented school for next year. I can assure you he doesn't get his studious ways from me J He is playing baseball again this spring and has taken up karate over the winter. One of his favorite things to talk about these days are his skylander figures. If I don't' know better I would think he is the subject matter expert since he insists on telling us all about his skylander figures and their exploits.
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 1:43 PM
Monday, March 12, 2012
You have heard the phrase life is a journey? Well I don’t think I really appreciate this phrase much; however, the past 18 months has proven to a huge journey for me.
Back in my blogging hay day I used to blog everyday and at a minimum once every other day. I blogged about such things as my kids, wordless Wednesday, work, family etc. I found blogging to be an outlet for me a place where I could vent my fears and frustrations and people either liked me for who I was or didn’t but the beauty was unlike in day to day, face to face life I wasn’t aware of the dislikes. This created a safe haven of sorts for me. So to all of my old blogger friends out there who are brave enough to venture back into my blog, thanks. For all you new folks sit down buckle up and let me share with you a story over the next several months.
A little over 18 months ago, I lost my mom, it was a troublesome time for me, and it would be for anyone, right? Well, for me it was a mish mash of feelings, some of these feels people would be shocked to hear some adjectives which come to mind to describe my feelings are relieved, bittersweet, freed, lonesome, and wandering. Not all the words you were thinking about to describe the loss of a parent huh?
My mother and I had a different relationship; I knew that from an early age. She was a single parent, we didn’t have much money, and she had a temper. But different didn’t stop there. It was a relationship built on fear and secrets. I feared my mother; I feared her more than anyone who knows me knows.
When she died, I started to work through that fear and break down its walls and barriers. It has been a journey of epic proportions for me as I have never been one to deal with my feelings or my childhood; I’ve only looked forward and never back. I never dealt with my demons and I couldn’t afford for my demons to ruin me or my family the way they had ruined my mom.
Over the next several months, I plan to document the journey I have been on, mainly because I want to be able to look back at where I have been and how I have overcome and to share, in the hopes of helping anyone who may be faced with a similar situation.
I hope you continue to check back as the weeks roll on. I will still update you about the happenings in my life and my family’s life along the way :) I missed you all and I have missed your kind words and support. Here’s to reconnecting!
Posted by Stephanie Whalen at 3:00 PM