Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Timmy's Story

Since a great deal of my writing for this blog will be about my experiences with my son Timmy, I feel that I should share his story before moving on to the big things that we have coming up. After my wife Heather and I had been dating for a year or so we began to look towards the future and our possible life together. In truth, we both knew within a month (if that long) of dating that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together; we each felt as if we had found our counterpart--our soulmate--and that we wanted nothing other than to grow old together. One day we asked each other what type of names we would want for our future children. I had been working on my first novel at the time and the name of my protagonist was Tim. It had always felt like the right name for my son and when I offered it up as a choice Heather loved it. I wanted him to have John as a middle name because it is my middle name as well as my father's and grandfather's before him. It is also my maternal grandfather's first name; needless to say, there is a great deal of filial significance for me with the name John. Thus, our first choice for a name would be Timothy John Benecke.

Once we had the name selected it was just a matter of deciding on when we would have children. Since, at the time, we were roughly halfway through our undergraduate degrees, still living at home, still deciding what else to do with the rest of our lives, and figuring out what to do for full-time employment, we knew that it would be quite awhile before Timmy would have the chance to join us. We spent the final two years of college sorting out all of the aforementioned situations and decisions and elected to focus on two things: work (for Heather) and school and work (for me). Heather had gotten an internship with a well-known rating agency during our junior year that, thankfully, transformed into a full-time position after graduation. I began to work closer to full-time in my position as the Assistant to the Director of College Now at Baruch while I earned the additional nine undergraduate English credits that I needed to get into the master's program at Brooklyn College. Suffice to say, we had alot going on and having children seemed even more of a distant endeavor than ever before.

Heather and I both knew that we wanted to get married and live life as a married couple for some time before having children. The problem, again, was when and how. Neither of us had substantial savings and we both knew that we wanted to pay for everything ourselves. I was stressed (as I so often was back then) because I wanted to figure out exactly when we would get engaged and then married. With our finances the way they were (or at least how they appeared to be to me) it seemed like it would take years for us to save up enough money for the wedding. Then, one magical night in February 2006 (I believe it was the 22nd) Heather and I found ourselves strolling through the Staten Island Mall. We meandered through the corridors and unconsciously found ourselves stopping at a number of jewelery stores and browsing through the engagement rings. We hadn't discussed our nuptials in awhile and, the last time that we did, we had decided to wait until we had enough money saved up. By the time we got to the Helzberg store, I felt some sort of magic in the air, as if Fate was guiding us along. A friendly employee asked us if we needed any help. We explained that we were just looking and, surprisingly, he let us be. Heather found a ring that she loved and we asked the man if we could see it. He took it out and, when she slipped it on her finger, it was as if Cinderella had just donned her glass slipper; it fit perfectly and looked spectacular. The glint and sparkle of the diamond paled in comparison to the glow that had overtaken Heather's face; she had found the ring. The employee asked us if we'd like to take a look at the ring under a microscope. We were confused but agreed to check it out. We then spent the next ten minutes getting a crash course in how to choose a diamond.

We left the store without making a purchase but found that the experience had left and indelible impression on both of us. For reasons I could not describe I felt like I was walking on air; it was as if I sensed a great change in the air--one that was meant to alter and to fulfill my life. We left the mall and drove around somewhat aimlessly. The entire time we revisited the possibility of getting married sooner instead of later. I realized that I had more than enough saved up to cover the engagement ring and, if we elected to have a slightly longer engagement closer to eighteen months than twelve, that we would have plenty of time to save up the necessary funds to pay for the wedding. We stopped at a deli and bought some snacks to bring back to Heather's mother's house. The magic of the night ebbed and, after I returned home, I fell asleep with a million thoughts running through my head. Little did I know that in less than twelve hours, I would be making the largest purchase of my life!

The next morning while I was at work, I felt restless. I couldn't understand why until, out of nowhere, I was hit with the realization that Heather and I were going to get engaged. I ran into my boss' office and told her what had happened the night before and what I intended to do. She was thrilled and was kind enough to give me the afternoon off. I had called the store and the gentleman that had spoken with Heather and I the night before was still there. He offered to stay until I showed up to help me with the purchase. Two days later I went down on one knee and asked Heather if she would bless me by spending the rest of her life with me. She consented and, nearly eighteen months later, we were married.

Upon returning home from our honeymoon, we settled into our new routine as a married couple living in our own rented place for the first time. I was working nearly full-time at Baruch while plugging away at my master's degree. Heather worked full-time and we both found ourselves adjusting well to the flow of our new lifestyle. In the fall semester of 2007, though, that routine was shaken up by my student-teaching requirement. I needed to complete more than three hundred hours of observations and time spent teaching over the course of two semesters. While this might not sound all that bad on paper, in practice it was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting. Five days a week I had to get up at four a.m. (or earlier) to make the five-fifty ferry to get to the school that I was student teaching at by seven. I would be there until the afternoon when I would then leave to work at Baruch (twice a week) or head off to class (also twice a week). That left Friday afternoon as the only time I had available to do anything non-student-teaching or work-related. Though the schedule was bad, it was its combination with my commute that made it torturous. I would be taking the ferry in the morning from Staten Island into Manhattan and would then either come home during rush hour if I had work, or head back to Staten Island to take the car to Brooklyn to go to class. I would often be getting out of said class anywhere from 8-10 in the evening and not get home until 9-11, only to get up a few hours later to do it all over again. The weekends were then spent lesson planning, completing school work, and doing household chores.

Though I might sound like I am complaining I do not mean to; there are plenty of people with worse commutes and situations than that, I am merely attempting to illustrate the difficult circumstances that I was facing. Given all that we had going on, Heather and I decided to postpone having children until things settled down a bit. Then, as it so often does, life got a little more complicated. Originally, our plan was to wait to have children until I finished my master's degree and accrued some time working as a teacher. Then, in the Fall of 2008, Heather found herself enrolling in an MBA program at Baruch. It would take her a minimum of four or five years to complete the degree while working full-time; the prospect of having a child with everything we had going on seemed insane.

Heather would be twenty-nine at the completion of her degree and it seemed like it would work to wait until then. Despite this, though, it didn't feel right. Finally, after a number of discussions, we finally probed our hearts and found that we didn't want to wait that long after all and that we really didn't have to. Much like with our decision to get engaged, our decision to try to have children might have gone against what seemed practical at the time but it was certainly what felt right deep within us. So, in April of 2009, one month before I would graduate and earn my degree, we decided that we would let things happen as they would. On Thursday May 28th, I graduated from Brooklyn College and on Friday May 29th, Heather and I left for a week in Ireland.

As Fate would have it, the Euro was punishing the dollar at the time and all of the revelry that we had intended on engaging in became non-existent. The few times that we did go out to drink, Heather had only a small amount of her drink before declaring that she was done. Though I found this odd, I didn't balk--I got to finish whatever she was having! We returned from Ireland on Saturday June 6th and during the next day Heather began to wonder whether or not she might be pregnant. She had said as much the morning of my graduation (the wrong time to bring something like that up, especially less than 36 hours before a massive trip as well) but this time she felt more sure. Then, just before six in the morning on Monday June 8th, 2009, I hear Heather's voice lilt my name out through the darkness. I open my eyes and see her in the bathroom, then comprehending her words: I want you to come look at something. Married life prepares you for all sorts of things and thus with crusted eyes I groaned, "What?" as I fully expected it to be some sort of strange bug, a crack in the wall, or something both corporeal and gross. What I got was, "I think I'm pregnant." I rubbed my eyes (as if this would somehow confirm what I had just heard) and swung my legs out of the bed. Sure enough--there was the positive pregnancy test in Heather's hand. I tried to gauge her reaction to the news and sensed nervous apprehension. I tried to break the apparent tension with a joke and we parried a few lines of meaningless chatter before I finally asked how she felt about the news. She said she felt fine but she wanted to know how I felt. I realized then that the nervous apprehension wasn't about the fact that she was pregnant but was instead about how I would react to it. I told her that I was beyond excited. She burst into tears and the sense of relief in her voice confirmed my previous suspicion. We then spent the next few hours absorbing the awesome news that we were going to be parents.

During my next post I will cover the pregnancy, the incredible story about the day Timmy joined us, and the wonderful news that we have regarding something big coming up in our lives next week!