Monday, June 12, 2017

Another year later and a year's worth of lessons

When our first anniversary rolled around, we had a 7-week old baby. That morning, the bakery that made our wedding cake delivered a top tier to our house and we enjoyed as much of it as we could in one sitting. Almost begrudgingly, we left that little one with my parents to go out to dinner. We were exhausted and talked about the baby the entire time. We celebrated it because it was our first. But our heads weren’t in it. Everything was still upside down in our lives.

And that was it. We passed our first milestone. Although between the day we got married - June 12, 2015 - and our anniversary we had hit so many other milestones.
  • August - we found out Linda was pregnant
  • October - she started a new job
  • November - we bought our first home
  • April - Nicky arrived
Of course, we had all the other stuff that happens along the way, like unpacking boxes, decorating, buying furniture, prepping for the baby’s arrival, and we managed to see Billy Joel in concert and take a Caribbean babymoon in between. When the 1 year hit, it felt like 10. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, but how could we possibly have done all that in just 1 year?

When we dropped him off at my parents’ house, we briefly contemplated going back to the couch and cake and enjoying a few hours of “us” time again. But we soldiered on to Chart House in NJ on the Hudson River that overlooked New York City. We had drinks and dined and watched a couple get married right in front of us. And for a few minutes, we remembered how we got to where we are. We felt like a couple again.

Year 1 ended and year 2 began. I got deeper into my job and she returned to hers, post-maternity. The baby began to do more than just sit there and stare at us blankly. Time started to be our most precious commodity. And that’s when it all started to happen. We became parents. Sure, we actually became parents the day Nicky was born (arguably before that even). But somewhere into year 2, we became more parents than we were husband and wife. We commuted and worked and commuted again. We raced to wash bottles and clothes and a tiny baby tushy. We fell asleep watching TV.

In January of 2017, we were nearly at the 1 and a half year mark and we knew something had to give. Linda left her job of 15 months to just be Nicky’s mom for a while. One piece of the sanity jigsaw puzzle got put back into place. Maybe 2 if you consider the 3 hours of commute and 9 hours of working she got back. But we were down to a single salary.

And this is when we learned that life - adult life, married life, parent life - is a zero sum game. You get and give and end up no further. It’s an even swap. Or is it? We sure thought so. We weren’t unhappy. We were just too busy to be actively happy if that makes any sense. We enjoyed each other. We still did things. We saw friends. We hung out. But it felt a lot like the hamster wheel.

At the end of April, Linda went back to work. She feels good being able to leave the house and function as a professional - something always important to her. Our income grew again. Nicky became a toddler. And the upswing began.

This was another inflection point. We realized something. We had to be us again. Jason and Linda. JayLynn needed to be more than a clever blog title or wedding hashtag. But how would we find the time to work on that? Here’s the secret. Some things in life are not zero sum. The energy you expend on your loved one pays you back many orders of magnitude. You get more than you spend.

And now we’re at the end of year 2. This time we dropped NickyT off at my parents again and took off for Atlantic City. We had drinks by the pool, we gambled, we ate (at a different Chart House this time), we gambled some more and we had a fun, mini, road trip both ways. We didn’t go out because the calendar said it was time to go. We didn’t celebrate the arbitrary trip around the sun. We celebrated our love. We celebrated each other. We celebrated our family. And we had fun.

Tomorrow year 3 begins. Who knows what it will bring? Some of the next 50 or so years will be up, some will be down, some will be in the middle. But we know how to approach it. We know where to focus. We know that we’ll always come out the other side - together. Maybe this blog shouldn’t be titled “The Adventures of Jason and Linda.” Maybe it should be called “The Adventure of Jason and Linda” because that’s what it is - one long adventure. One long life together. Each event matters less than the whole journey. It’s a hard journey, but it’s our journey and it’s worth it.

There’s nobody I’d rather eat/fall asleep on the couch/travel/cook/fight/raise a family/play/laugh/BE with - my best friend.

P.S. - Nicky can come too!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The shortest and longest year

Some moments I think "How is he already a year?" and other moments I think the day he was born was SO long ago. Either way, Linda and I cannot imagine a life without our little guy.

First he was the meatball, an idea of a person growing inside Linda. Week after week our Thursday "inside birthday" would come around and mark another week closer to the arrival. For 20 or so weeks, we listened to the apps tells what he would be some weeks and what she would be other weeks, all while guessing ourselves. And everyone told us surely what we'd have.

We planned to be surprised, but at one ultrasound, the technician asked us if we wanted to know and curiosity got the better of us. She counted 2 eyes, 10 fingers, 10 toes, and 1 extra piece. That's when we knew our meatball was a boy meatball.

And we had the name ready to go. Nicholas Thomas would be his name. Nicholas was my grandfather's name and would resume a tradition in my family. Thomas after my late uncle who left us too early, 16 Septembers ago. Both men who hold a special place in my heart. Both are men who I hope Nicky aspires to be like in different ways.

And then April 16th was a Saturday, 12 days prior to the arrival. We were at my brother's wedding in the city all day. Linda had worked up until just a couple of days prior. At 8 and a half months pregnant, she was commuting 90 minutes into the city and working a full day. We left around 6ish and by the time all was said and done it was 9 pm and we were home and settled and exhausted.

At 2:30 she woke me and alerted me that her water broke. We rushed to the hospital and Mr. Nick had a change of heart and hung out without moving for many hours. About 5 pm he decided it was time again. At 7 pm, the doctor arrived and gave Linda the instructions. At 7:30, he was firmly plopped on his new mommy's chest. And the rest, as they say, was history.

One year later, we had an amazing party with friends and family and celebrated the little life of this little guy. Today we spent it all together enjoying every ounce of him. Tomorrow, it'll be his actual birthday and back to daycare and back to work. Every day is a new adventure as he learns something new. For instance, today we learned he can not only crawl up the stairs, but he can do about 16 steps nonstop and FAST. And it was the first time he had tried.

There's one thing that happens every day. We stare at him. We marvel at who he is becoming. As of midnight, he stops being an infant and starts being a toddler. But he'll still be a baby. He'll always be our baby. And if you know anything about Italian households, we'll call him "the baby" until he's at least 8 years old anyway.

He has "things." Things he does and things he likes. He has his own idiosyncrasies. He knows how to give love and affection and I melt every time he blows a kiss (even if it's just him smacking himself in the mouth mostly). He has opinions. His personality is formidable and his smile is infectious and he's not afraid to flash either or both. He plays to his audience and can work the room already. And it's actually impossible to be in a bad mood around him.

In 12 months I've managed to be stunned and amazed at how a little baby can be a person. I'm lucky to be his dad and couldn't be more proud of who he is now and excited at watching who he will be.