Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Lucky Jack

I have always believed that sometimes, the right people come into your life just when you need them most.

Because that is exactly what happened to me eight years ago today.

Joe and I had been married less than two years.  My father-in-law was extremely ill as Joe completed his first go-around with the Chicago Fire Academy (paramedic side). 

Jack with Grandpa Walsh a few months before he passed away. 

I was working full-time, traveling, and in desperate need of a nap.  Our first son, Daniel, was 15 months old.  What little time our family had together was spent shoving things into a corner in order to cram another crib into our tiny, two-bedroom downtown Chicago condo. 

Son #2 was imminent.

While my delivery with Daniel had been a 48 hour disaster filled with heart monitors, cosmic edema, and agony, Jack's entrance into the world was seamless.  Truth be told, I've had more painful paper cuts.

I thought that perhaps the universe recognized I was not up for one more blasted challenge, not one more stupid thing. The proverbial feather could have tipped me right over the edge into madness, alcoholism, or, quite possibly, reality television.

So instead, I was sent the world's easiest child:

I'm not sure why I've got him wrapped up like a tamale.  It must have been very cold.  You know... in AUGUST.

Jack slept like a champ. He ate his vegetables. He was potty trained within minutes.

All mothers know that the love they feel for their kids is 100% the same. But many mothers also admit that one child is sometimes easier than the next. My Danny will argue the paint off the wall, and I love him more than reason. My Joey has a flair for the dramatic and epic over-reaction, but I would not trade him for the world.

And my Jack?  Jack is Zen.

I think I said something super-funny and classy to get him to laugh here.  Maybe it was "POOH."  (photo credit: Rebecca Healy)

Jack "got" the joke early, something his speech therapist found remarkable for a two-year old.  The reason he required speech therapy?  For two long years, Jack's only word was "BALL."  I was a ball.  Joe was a ball.  Nana was a ball.  The television was a ball.

The kid figured he'd died and gone to heaven the day we visited a pumpkin patch.  He interpreted the field as one comprised entirely of large, orange balls.  He raced from pumpkin to pumpkin, smiling and laughing, celebrating the magic land where balls grew from the ground like...well...pumpkins.

He's holding a plastic toy apple here, or in Jack-speak, a "BALL."

The writing was on the wall.  The kid was destined to be an athlete.

Sure enough, Jack was the child who slept with his baseball mitt, brought his hockey stick to Show & Tell, and watched the Blackhawks victory rally on a continuous DVR loop for three straight days.

He is also a musician who struggles with sheet music but who can also play a new song entirely by ear. 

He is dimples and sunshine, this amazing middle child of mine.

And I am so blessed to be his mom.  

So happy birthday, Jack.  And please promise me that you're not just saving everything difficult and ornery for the teen years.


I'll throw in a ball.

Jack pitching in the Championship game this Spring.

Below: That moment where the middle child takes a stand, or in Jack's case, when he announces "I am not the gitter (getter)."


  1. This made me a little teary. Happy birthday, Jack, from the Healys!

  2. Happy birthday Jack! What a fabulous boy you have there. BTW: Our 2nd was also super easy. I'm convinced that it is the universe's way of trying to get you to have a third. We didn't take the bait, but you're always so much braver than I am anyway!

    1. TAKE THE BAIT. Kidding. Sort of. ;) Thanks, Mama Melch!

  3. HAppy birthday, Jack. I didn't realize Jack and Danny were so close in age. Bless you, woman.
    He's gorgeous, then and now.

    1. Thank you, Shannon! We are rather fond of him. :)

  4. Aw, so sweet! Happy birthday! It's amazing how different each kid is from the get go.

    1. I can't believe they come from the same parents some days!

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks, Kari! Will pass that along. :)

  6. Your youngest, Joey, has kept me chuckling, so it's great to read about Jack. Middle kids are very special. Glad Jack was second, else you would have had Jack-Daniel . . .

    Now if you were calling "Jack-Daniel", as I have pointed out before I think (or maybe just thought), your hubby might have been forced to bring you an adult beverage.

    Happy Birthday to Jack! If you lived in my neighborhood, Jack, I would have given you a big exercise ball that scares our dog so I gave it away.

    1. Ha! The boys DESTROYED my exercise ball, so I'm glad yours went to some health-conscious person instead!

  7. Happy Birthday, Jack! I love this post, Marianne.

  8. Marianne, what a beautiful essay. don't let your other two sons read it.

    Seriously, awesome writing.


  9. Terrific post - love that boy!

  10. Funny - I had Henry 14 months after Isabelle and he is very similar. Everything was and remains fairly easy with him (knock on wood!). Looks like someone (something?) was looking out for us!