A Mother’s Love and Life Lessons

One local woman, a legend in the business world, is more than just a focused go-getter to the person who knows her by another name: mom.
By: Wendy Rose
Most of us think of our moms as superheroes – balancing the weight of the world on their shoulders while maintaining a life, a career, and a family.
Every mom is powerful in their own rite, and local mom Anne Whelan is a perfect example – she’s even on Women’s Executive Network’s (WXN) top 100 list of Canada’s most powerful women.
Anne Whelan is the CEO and sole shareholder of Seafair Capital Inc., an NL-based holding company that includes a number of businesses, ranging from home-care, to restaurants, and much more. And that’s not all – Anne also chairs the board of Newfoundland Power, and sits on the boards of the Business Development Bank of Canada and the CSA Group.
On top of all this, Anne is also an attentive and loving mother, well adored by her daughter Caitlin Whelan.
When asked to chat about her mother, Cait was flattered about the interest. Speaking to The Herald via email, Cait poured out her appreciation for her mother, speaking directly from the heart. She started off by telling us a bit about her mom, who hails from Placentia Bay.
“When you meet her, it’s obvious what a great sense of humour she has, and she loves to sing, go dancing, host dinners and is generally interested in creating a positive and fun atmosphere,” Cait said. “One thing that she clearly has as a personal priority is always thinking of others, and she is generally not afraid to ask anyone about issues or challenges that they’re facing – it’s a genuine concern to make sure the people around her are doing well,” she continued.
“There are three sisters in total, and my grandmother is also very outgoing and determined, so there’s definitely a strong matriarchal bond. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that she’s also a fantastic cook, not to mention crafty and creative with a great eye for decorating.”
When asked about what traits she admires most, Cait struggled for an answer – there were just too many to list.
“Some of the ones I think about almost daily would have to be how she is always thinking of others, and treats everyone with respect,” she explained. “One thing she works towards is mediation. She is always looking to figure out how to resolve issues, and in the most efficient and respectful way possible, that being said, her no-nonsense attitude really takes her places.”
The mother-daughter duo, who are close pals too, share some of these traits.
“We can both get things done. When I need to get help or to speak with people about an important topic, I can suddenly become very stern and direct. While this is not the most easy-going trait, she has taught me to still be able to understand and appreciate the position that someone is in, and the capabilities and limits of that position,” Cait said. “We also move in a very similar fashion, everything from the way we walk, to our facial expressions, as I get older I notice it more and it definitely freaks me out,” she added.
There are lessons passed down as well as traits, too.
“She has taught me is to always be a leader, never be afraid to speak to people and be direct,” Cait explained. “I was never afraid to speak up – though sometimes i might have been a little too much. Ultimately though, she has taught me to be independant, and to speak to people with respect, and that this earns respect in return. People are much easier to deal with if they feel that you have a certain amount of respect for them.”
Asked to pick out a favourite memory of her mother, Cait again had to ponder the question. There were so many to choose from. After some deliberation and discussion, she recounted a tale that has stuck with her over the years.
“One year when I was a child, my mother dressed up in a witch costume for halloween. I was only beginning grade one and had been attending a Catholic school in St John’s.
Within the first few weeks, our teacher asked us to draw our family, and because It was only me and my mother living together at the time, I drew her, in her witch costume,” she recalled. “I adored witches, and still do to this day, but the catholic school I was attending at the time called her into the office out of concern. I was made to join her and the administration and explain my love of witches, and that there was nothing scary going on at home,” she explained. “There are so many stories about me and mom from my childhood, but this is definitely one of my favorites.”
We then discussed the pros and cons of having a high-powered mother, who is presumably busy, keeping up with all of her business affairs as well as family affairs. Cait explained that while she was always supportive of her daughter’s endeavours, her mom also taught her that having a personal cheerleader isn’t always necessary.
“Growing up, I was involved in a lot of performances, and because she was building her business she missed out on a some of those, but she taught me I could do great things with or without her there to watch,” Cait recalled. “I don’t feel as though I missed out on much domestic bonding time,” she added. “As her work picked up in more recent years, the days we do get to spend together are precious … We don’t see each other much in our day-to-day lives now, except for Sunday dinners that she will often still make, she often drops by my house to help me make dinner and tidy up when she has a spare afternoon.”
Their Mother’s Day traditions have varied over the years, as their relationship grows into new directions as Cait progressed from childhood to adulthood.
“I used to stock up on trinkets at the dollar store, sparkly brooches and that sort of thing – she still has some of them. I would often make her breakfast in bed, she likes omelets and yogurt, and I was always excited to do something for her,” she said.
Nowadays, the celebrations depend on their schedules, which can be a challenge.
“I think it depends on the year, where she is, and what she’s up to. If we are both in town I’ll often stop over in the evenings, or make her some dinner. This year, we’ve been planning a weekend at our cabin, and have been thinking about making some pretty soaps, and cooking a nice big meal – some kind of stew. Usually, we just use it as an opportunity to spend time together, and I’ll often just try and lend a hand with something she has been overwhelmed with at the home. I think this year we are going to tend to the greenhouse and attempt to get that up and running for the season.”
As a departing note, Cait answered a left-field question about giving advice for new moms. Though Cait is not a mother, it is obvious that this answer was heavily guided by her matriarchal influences.
“Your child is going to love you no matter what, but I think it’s important to teach leadership skills and healthy lifestyle habits. The best way to teach someone to be a leader, is to teach by example,” she said.
“Teach bravery by being brave, but it’s also important to remember bravery doesn’t happen without adversary, you can’t let your struggles be the end of you.
It’s important to learn how to solve problems and move forward with your life, even if you feel like it’s in a rut. No matter what, if something went wrong, there was always a calm after the storm in my life. My mother always sat with me and asked what I was thinking post storm, and how I thought I might be able move forward from that scenario. Yes, often there was a lingering sense of disappointment if I really messed up, but those times, I don’t remember the struggle now, I remember the meditative state of resolution and how that helped me continue to grow,” Cait said, before expelling this final nugget of wisdom:
“Always work on improving yourself, either by learning something new or creating something new – always be a force and never apologize for it.”
You’re a force Cait, as is your mother. Here’s to inspiring, intelligent, and loving moms, and their equally amazing daughters. Happy Mother’s Day!

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