This is the third in a series of interviews with moms who inspire. If you or someone you know would like to participate in this project please contact me.
Single mom of two teenaged girls, Darlene Szejnrok discusses how her family's been affected by the downturn in the economy, surviving breast cancer this past year and how she hopes to pursue a new career as a nurse.
Name: Darlene M. Szejnrok
City: Jackson, NJ
How many children do you have and what are their ages and names?
2 daughters: Amanda 16 and Samantha 14
Tell me about their names, and why you picked them.
Boston was my favorite band and that's how I got Amanda.
Samantha was stolen from my brother in law because we only had boys names picked. We never thought we'd get lucky enough to have two girls in a family where Amanda was the first girl in 16 generations.
Are you married or have you ever been?
Yes I was married for 6 years, we divorced 10 years ago. I live with my boyfriend now and have no plans of getting married anytime soon.
Do you have a significant other, and if so do you live with them?
Yes I do , we've been living together for 5 years now.
Do you work outside the home?
No (currently unemployed).
What is your position?
I'm (usually) a mail carrier for the Post Office, but looking for a job.
Are you doing what you want to be doing, or is it a stepping stone to something else?
No, I am not doing what I want to and yes this is just a stepping stone (a bad one too).
Did you go to school? When and for what?
I just finished nursing school for LPN this past January and am studying for my state boards.
How did you end up in the city you reside in?
My Dad was selling his house and we decided to buy it from him.
Where else have you lived?
Hmm, everywhere…. Rutherford, East Rutherford, Lyndhurst, Carlstadt, Hackensack, Oakland, Garfield and Jackson.
Where have you traveled?
I have never traveled :(
What was a typical day for you when you were 20?
Well at the time I worked for a bank so I went to work 6 days a week. After work I usually went to play pool and happy hour! I miss 20!
Describe a typical day now.
My days right now are very boring. I wake up and go for my walk. Clean, do laundry, look for a job and study.
Then at 2 my girls get home from school and it's “drive me here and there”. Then, dinner around 6, clean up, watch whatever show is on that night, check my FB and bed.
What do you like to do with your kids for fun?
We love just going out to eat and to the movies. Usually once a week we have family fun night when we make stuff and rent movies or play games.
What do you like to do for yourself?
Hmmm, that's a tough one. I like my walk; I walk 2 miles every day.
How do you make new friends, and how do you keep in touch with old ones?
I make friends in Shop Rite (lol). All my old friends have very little kids so they are always on the go and very hard to get in touch with, but I try. My best friends are my cousins. I'm with them all the time.
Did you ever consider not having children?
No, never. I always wanted to be a Mom.
What has been the hardest period in your life?
This past year; I was diagnosed with breast cancer August 2009.
How did you get through it?
Just did what I had to do, to beat it!
What has been the most hopeful period?
Right now I think is the most hopeful.
What worries do you have for yourself?
Not being here for my girls.
Ugh so many. Should have went to college.
Are you spiritual? Religious?
I guess. I was raised Catholic but I don't go to church.
If so, have you ever questioned your faith?
What’s your personal philosophy; why do you think we are here?
I really never thought about that. There just better be something pretty good after!
How has the economy affected you and your family in the last few years?
Pretty bad. Where should I start!
I worked as a sub for the Post office for 4 years, so when hours were cut the opportunity of ever moving up in the company was shot.
I was diagnosed with Cancer in 2009, and found out that when you work for the Federal Government you don't' qualify for unemployment or disability.
I had to go through this entire experience completely broke.
During that period my town raised my (property) taxes 2k dollars.
And now that I can go to work, the postal service has informed me that my old postmaster messed up and I have no seniority, and I can't have my days back and if someone calls out sick they'll give me a shout.
Sorry - had to vent!
What’s an important dream you have which you work towards almost every day?
Becoming a nurse and beating cancer for good!
What do you imagine for your children in the future?
To be happy and enjoy every minute of every day.
Do you have a mantra (something you tell yourself to help you get through the tough spots)?
I'm going to be here for my girls and be a grandma one day.
How many tattoos do you have and of what?
What and who inspires you?
When we all stand together for our country (as we did after) 9/11.
When we all stand together and walk for cancer or other sicknesses.
Nancy Brinker (founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure) is an amazing woman!