Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for my two amazing boys.
Day #29 – Just like me … but is that GOOD?!
When you have a child … well, several things happen. It changes your life in a whole lot of different ways.
For me it shifted priorities and made things very clear – before kids with both of us working long days, always on the go somewhere and so on … and after kids we were always on the go somewhere – but the focus changed, as it was suddenly school and sports and heading to museums and parks and parties. Personally it helped me draw clear boundaries between work and family, not that I didn’t ever work weekends, nights or travel – but it was a clear decision based on need rather than ‘well, Lisa is working so … whatever’.
I won’t go into their whole stories, as those are for them to tell … But I want to quickly talk about these two wonderful young men who make my life better every day.
I have talked about how Danny’s birth was like a party, and for me the whole four day stay in the hospital was great. Discovering how sturdy he was, how incredible it was to snuggle him, and just everything about being a new dad was a revelation. Lisa had a C-section so we were there for four days, and the reality check was going home and having to do it all ourselves.
From the very start Danny was his own person, but also full of life and light and a quick and easy smile. He has my ease of blending into most any crowd, with the accompanying realization that not standing out means not standing out. Yet he has shone in many areas – from drama to music to youth court and as a young film maker, he has done some amazing things in areas very different than anything I ever did.
It is interesting looking around our house and back through time – early on he showed a great aptitude for art, and took summer art classes in Fitchburg where the teacher singled him out for potential and displayed some of his stuff even outside of the confines of the usual student display. But a couple of years with a pedantic and harsh art teacher in elementary school quenched his love of art – at least in terms of drawing, painting and sculpting. It is interesting seeing now how that love redirected itself into other areas … I guess the saying ‘when life closes a door, open a window’ is very applicable.
What has amazed me is how the high school years have produced a strong, secure, and mature young man (ok, yeah, with plenty of teenage boy in there as well!). He has a good group of friends, is a loyal person, quick with a joke but also a good listener, and is much better than I was at his age at dealing with his emotions (despite having that same penchant for squishing them down beneath his knees).
His style has also evolved from skater-dude and rap-fan to very stylish (I’d estimate he wears a jacket and tie at least twice a week) who has a deep appreciation for everything in the arts. He is applying to schools for film, looking at a Fine Arts study … but also loves acting, singing, and writing. His ability to craft a tale, write believable dialogue and his use of language is just incredible – and I hope it brings him much success and satisfaction.
I’ve also described Christopher’s birth many times … and it was traumatic for all involved. Lisa had great difficulty due to significant scarring from Danny, Chris was breach and nearly drown in the amniotic fluid, Lisa’s digestive system wouldn’t restart and she was in the hospital two weeks with the chief of surgery keeping a close eye, Chris had two bouts of apnea and turned blue in front of my face once, and spent time in the NICU (where the nurses loved having a huge baby, since he was more than TWICE as large as the next biggest baby in there!). There were lingering effects from that rough start we dealt with for a few years, but he always had the most amazing smile, the cutest fly-away blond hair … and one heck of a personality.
Whereas Danny blended in like me, Chris is more like Lisa and has a strong personality. That can be good … but it also has downsides. There were always a group around him … but also always one or two kids who were very strongly negative. And like too many of us, as a young kid he couldn’t get past those who disliked him to focus on the great friends he had.
His flair for drama was apparent from the earliest years, and he always shone in productions even from the earliest age, and was something he excelled at through middle school, though he has focused on working on the tech crew through high school rather than being on stage. The tech crew focus comes from another love – music technology.
I know this sounds like typical parental blind bragging, but I have seldom seen anyone with as strong a raw musical concept and vision as Chris. This isn’t necessarily instrumental focus – we could tell from his early years of piano that he wasn’t going to be a concert pianist, as after he surpassed what his first teacher could provide, he frustrated his second teacher who wanted pure classical interpretation while Chris wanted to rework the melodies and rhythmic pacing and flow. I love hearing his music, or his interpretation of music.
But music isn’t his only skill – from his earliest days he has had a love of cooking. Easy Bake oven, Harry Potter potions lab and so on … then on to making real food. Lisa and I have become really good cooks and bakers over the years – but Chris has a natural gift. Another talent that has appeared recently is photography. He took a couple of pictures out of our moving car to use for a cover for his EP, and converted them to black & white … and they were amazing. He has a great eye for shots, and helped Danny film his portfolio film.
As for where he goes next, who knows – he is in the middle of his toughest semester of school, taking dual AP classes, a college level (ACE) chemistry, calculus and creative writing. He is thinking about culinary arts school such as Johnson & Wales that will focus on the business aspects as well as culinary skills … and I know he would truly excel.
I have talked about wanting to move back to Massachusetts in the future, but the reality is this: home is with Lisa, and in proximity to our boys. We have no real ties to any place or even region (aside from our current jobs and having a mortgage), so if that means moving south or west or whatever … we can do it. And will.
The decision to have or not have kids – or the reality of biology we thought we faced for a long time – is very personal and no one has the right to make that for you or to question your choices. For us, having kids when we thought we couldn’t was an amazing blessing … and while there are many times our boys drive us nuts – they are our babies, and a huge part of our lives. They are past the point of us really being the major force of influence, but we maintain a close relationship and try to be a postive guiding force.
Now we can just sit and hope that they get to show the world the reasons for the great joys we have experienced all of these years.
Do you feel tied to a place or region, or would you move around easily?
It’s funny because for a long time, I desired nothing more than move around and see new places and live there for awhile to get a feel for something else. When we faced the possibility of being placed across the state with Joe’s job, though, I didn’t want to go anywhere. I didn’t want to live Pittsburgh/western PA at all because I had finally made a life for myself (messy and crazy and completely all over the place as it is) that I loved. Our friends and families were here, and I didn’t want to lose that, even though I logically knew that we could make new friends anywhere and our old friends and families would still be there for us. I’m happy with how things worked out obviously, but I never realized how much I considered Western PA home until we almost had to leave it. I do still feel a pull to NJ, though, as well since I was born and raised there….I love going back to visit and I wish we lived closer so I could see my family there more, but my heart is back is here these days, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon
I think that finding a place to call home is pretty important. When we bought our home in Townsend that became HOME, and was where we had very much settled and lived for nearly 15 years. Moving out here to NY it took a couple of years to really settle in, but then it became home especially for the kids. But once they are out of college and finding their own places to call home … we have realized that there isn’t anything at this point keeping us here, and that our greatest ties are not to a place, but to family – Lisa, I and the boys.
I love how much those boys (and Lisa) are the apples of your eye. Quick funny story–my cousin is actually called Chip because he was named for his father and so they Called him Chip as in Chip off the old block.
I don’t feel tied to the east coast in a hampered way, but I definitely feel drawn to it–as I just talked about with my Thanksgiving post. But I think that I am largely open to where life takes me–thus why I have moved the places that I have. I just don’t care as much for the super cold! But as we are thinking about having a family, I am definitely feeling the desire to be closer to my mom, or to have Mom be closer to me.
Thanks Suz! I loved your Thanksgiving wrap-up (and darn your lack of a ‘Like’ button once more!). I love that you and your mom have such a great relationship (she’s pretty cool herself, no disrespect to you 😉 ) … and I hope that sustains for the rest of your life. Our next-door neighbor is in the process of selling her house and is already renting down in Corning to be closer to her grandkids … can’t say I don’t wish that our kids had SOMEONE like that in their lives, but hey … only so much we have power to control!
I definitely feel tied to the tri state area, and really wouldn’t want to imagine being too far from my parents and sister, especially now that I have kids and it’s amazing to see how close they are with my family! I was never one to move around easily though, I feel more comfortable near home base 🙂
Thanks Michele – and I think you hit on a key element: the ties to your parents and sister. My parents moved away (to SC) more than a year before we moved to NY, my brother in NJ, my sister (who I don’t have anything to do with) is in RI, my best friends are scattered between MA, TX, CA, FL, OR, CO, and so on …
They sound like very smart and
Well rounded young men…your pride shines through in all of your posts, I love it!
Thanks so much Nicole 🙂
This was such a great post about your family! I think it would be really hard to move far away from my parents and sister at this point. I know when we have kids I will want to be close to them, and I think as we get more settled in a house versus an apartment it will feel more like home here. But, you never know where life will take you!
Thanks Lisa 🙂 As I mentioned to Michele, having family you have a close relationship with in close physical proximity is a wonderful thing. We don’t have that in any regard, so that contributes to not feeling tied. And like you say, you never know!
I really loved reading this because its so clear here (and in many of your other posts) just how much you love your boys. They are both extremely talented and I have no doubt that they will both be very successful and well rounded (and adjusted) adults.
As far as being tied to a place, I feel very similar to you, while I have always lived on the East Coast (NY, Boston and other areas of MA) I would have no problem picking up and moving anywhere, as long as I had my boys with me (and we had jobs to go to) My friend and her husband move around a lot for his job (usually every 2-3 years) and they have had some incredible adventures, sometimes I wish I would have done more of that when I was younger, but such is life!!
Thanks Sara 🙂 Yeah, they are quite the pair! Fortunately, more pants are worn around our house at this point than yours 🙂 haha
I really have no desire to more – I also know people who see it as an ‘adventure’. As a couple we had two apartments (in Acton on Great Road (2A/119) within a mile of each other), a house in MA and a house here. Over the last nearly 25 years. So yeah, not big on moving 🙂
So glad your boys bring you so much joy and that your home is with them. We don’t have any family in Texas, but for the last 15 or so years, it’s been a wonderful place to call home and it’s easy enough to catch flights to see our parents/families. We talk about wanting to move to Italy in about 10 years, but part of me wonders if I could really be okay being that far away from my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, and niece/nephews forever. Studying abroad for 6 months was one thing, but moving overseas forever? I’m still not entirely sure about it. Guess we’ll make that decision when the time comes, and if it’s not right in 10 years, we could likely make the choice in 12 years or 15 years or whatever.
Interesting thoughts on Italy – I have read that often in your posts. But like you say you never know. For years we assumed we’d buy a house on the Cape near the beach, but as we get closer, we realize that there are other factors more important. So who knows 🙂
Not too long ago, a friend of ours asked me and my husband which one of us our son took most after. My husband, with much chagrin, said it was him, to which I added, “But never tell our son that.”
It’s nice that you want to stay near your boys. 🙂
Funny story! 🙂
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