Tag Archives: family

Family Traditions: The Knocking Ghost of Wilmarth Street

wilmarthstGrowing up, my father used to routinely beat me and my brother with spoons.

It started while we were on vacation in Gettysburg, PA. After driving from Massachusetts and spending three days crowded into the minivan visiting battlefields and taking in the oh-so-electrifying excitement of Amish country, we had all reached our breaking points. My brother and I were at that point in our relationship in which we couldn’t breathe the same air without fighting, which was making my parents crazy. Now picture all that built up angst, tension, and bad blood squeezed into the tiniest Amish buggy  you can imagine.

After that we went to a restaurant to have some lunch. Still sniping at one another even as the waitress was trying to take our order, my brother and I were building up to an inevitable slugfest (which was really just a glorified slapfight because of our mutually agreed upon decision not to hit each other in the face), until my father took action.

He grabbed a spoon, held it under the table, and smacked me with it. And then he hit my brother. We were stunned.

“Did you just…did you just hit us with a spoon?” I asked.

“Yes,” said my father in a matter-of-fact tone. “Every time you guys argue, I’m going to flick you with a spoon.”

We were so stunned at the absurdity of it all, we stopped fighting and immediately started cracking up laughing. And from that point on, whenever anyone in our family was being a dick, they got whacked with a spoon under the table — an unlikely family tradition if ever there was one.

Recently, I’ve started a new family tradition all my own with my oldest son.

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Q&A with Drew Brees: Fatherhood, Family & Football

breesI get a lot of PR pitches. I turn down a lot of PR pitches. But when one of them says “Would you be interested in an interview with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees,” you sit up and pay attention.

After I made sure I wasn’t being Punk’d by one of my idiot friends, I quickly and eagerly agreed. I mean, this is Drew Brees. Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees. The guy who holds the single season passing record with 5,476 yards. And even though he’s not a member of my beloved New England Patriots, I like Drew on a personal level because he’s a notoriously devoted husband, father of three little boys, and genuinely nice guy by all accounts.

Heck, aside from his elite athletic prowess and the fact that he’s a millionaire star athlete, we’re practically the same person!

But seriously, I was so excited and honored to get this opportunity. Even though I worked as a journalist for a long time and interviewed some pretty big names, I still get a kick out of talking to celebrities. Especially when it’s someone like Drew, who combines my love of football and fatherhood. And with so much going on in the NFL right now (concussion issues, player safety, locker room bullying, etc) it was a perfect opportunity to get a peek behind the curtain.

This opportunity comes courtesy of Tide’s “Color Captains” program, in which 32 NFL players (one from each team) capture pictures of their team colors in celebration of fans and football throughout the season.

So without further ado, here’s my Q&A with star NFL quarterback Drew Brees (and there’s a distinct possibility I may have jabbed him about losing to the Patriots earlier this season).

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The Best Picture of Brothers Ever

I can write until the cows come home about my kids. I can poetically describe my thoughts regarding family, my two boys, and their early foray into brotherhood. Some of it might even be pretty good.

Or, I could just wait for my wife to capture a picture that encapsulates what it means to be brothers far better than my mere words ever could.

Shortly after I left for work this morning, my wife had to go to the bathroom. So she asked Will, our oldest, to watch Sam and make sure he didn’t tip over. This was what she saw when she came back into the room.

willsam_straightarm

Feel free to caption this in the comments section.

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Introducing Sam

samAll parents think their newborns are wondrous marvels and tiny little miracles. But given the fact that I watched science assist us in fertilizing an embryo, transferring it into my wife where it grew for 40 weeks — as far as I’m concerned I witnessed an honest to goodness miracle last week.

Samuel Christopher Gouveia was born on July 31 at exactly 2 p.m. His Tankness (as I’m referring to him as of late) was a whopping 9 lbs, 3 oz and 21 inches long. MJ delivered him after less than 15 minutes of pushing, and because she’s a badass she didn’t even need any stitches afterward. It was an ironically painless and uncomplicated culmination of a process that was fraught with pain, uncertainty, and heartbreak.

I don’t want to dwell on the past because other people had it tougher and I (unfortunately) know too many parents whose young kids are no longer with us. But that doesn’t change the fact that MJ and I went through a hellish time the last few years. And although neither of us admitted it at the time, we had both given up hope of completing our family. It was evident in our demeanor, the things we said, and the choices we made. Like last year when MJ needed a new car. We thought about going with a minivan because we wanted another kid, but we bought a Kia Sportage instead. Why? Because neither of us believed we’d ever really need the extra room. And even the night before Sam was born, MJ turned to me and said “Are you convinced something is wrong with the baby?” It was no use lying to her, because that is ALL I could think about and I did believe something else was going to go wrong.

But it didn’t. Sam is healthy and beautiful. And for the first time in years, I feel like I can breathe again.

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The Most Important Thing?

work_life“Is this the most important and impactful thing I can be doing right now?”

That’s the fundamental question we all ask ourselves at my day job to figure out which projects should be prioritized. There are lots of things that need doing, but working on a little bit here and a little bit there leaves us scattered and unfocused. So whenever we get spread too thin we stop, ask that question, and then get back to work on the most important thing.

Unfortunately it’s not so clear-cut when you’re a parent — especially a working parent.

An average day for me consists of leaving the house at 7 a.m. just after my son wakes up, and getting back around 6:30-7 p.m. which is an hour before he goes to bed at 8. That’s thanks to long hours and a really shitty commute that averages roughly 80-90 minutes — each way. And I really love my job. I do. And not just because the salary I derive from it keeps our family afloat. I love the people I work with, I get to write and edit every day, I’ve learned countless new skills switching from print to digital and I’ve grown personally and professionally because of it. I hope to stay and thrive there for many years and I enjoy immense satisfaction from almost every part of it.

And yet as much as I love work, there’s a little voice chirping in the back of my head: “Is this the most important thing I can be doing?”

I come home and I see arts and crafts projects MJ and Will have done together during the day. I see Facebook pictures throughout the day of places they go and things they do. And when I get home I listen to them talk, close as can be with inside jokes and things that can only be had from spending all that time together. MJ knows the intricate details of what’s happening on a daily basis at preschool, which friends Will is having a problem with at the moment, whether Batman, Power Rangers or Transformers is currently his Favorite. Thing. Ever.

These things might seem insignificant, but they’re not. In fact, I think these little nuggets are the things that really make parenting worth it. They are quite literally the most important thing a parent can be doing.

Working parents know this. We do. We know we’re missing out on so much good stuff, and yet there’s almost nothing we can do about it. Because the simple fact of the matter is our salaries from our jobs keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. Sure we can try to work from home or cut back our hours, but that comes with risks too. Fair or not, the truth is people (men especially) are punished for missing work, and often thought of as lazy for asking for leave or time off related to family.

Being a working dad is a constant battle for me. I’m trying to advance my career so I can better provide for my family, while also remaining present enough as a husband so my wife doesn’t feel like a single parent, and as a good enough dad so my kid still remembers who I am and doesn’t see me as a novelty.

It’s an absolutely exhausting tightrope walk in hurricane force winds, and all too often you end up feeling like you have one foot in each world and you’re not performing well in either role.

While I’m not sure if I could hack being a stay-at-home parent, I do envy them in one big way. I really do believe that while their job is immeasurably difficult, they can comfort themselves with the knowledge that they are absolutely doing the most important thing they can be doing by raising a quality human being every single day. It doesn’t make the work itself any easier, but the peace of mind that comes with it has to be a relief.

Meanwhile working parents are left with a paycheck that never seems to cover all the self-doubt when trying to figure out if we’re doing the most important thing.

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