|Jessica, Elijah, Bryan, Asher, JoAnn, Corinn, Aaron, Jim, Dan|
at Aaron and Corinn's Wedding in June 2010
I always wanted to be a mom more than anything.
It all started a long, long time ago when I wanted to be a big sister to a little sister as a kid, but that never happened. My brother Rick was born two years after me -- too close for me to really "take care" of him. So I started with babysitting my eldest brother's friends' babies.
|JoAnn's first try at babysitting with the help of her|
younger brother, Rick
In my preteen and teen years I helped take care of, and later babysat, many children. I loved "playing house with real babies!" I remember once when walking with my niece in a carriage a neighbor friend of mine asked, "JoAnn, do you have a REAL baby in there?" to which I indignantly replied, "Of course!"
|JoAnn Muller & niece, Sandra Lynn 1968|
Then I married and started a family. Whoa... Big difference. Bryan was born in December of 1977 and I was just about to turn 21. I remember after they brought him into my room at the hospital, immediately hopping out of bed to change his diaper. I couldn't wait to start my new role.
Once home, we settled in. Bryan was a great baby, he slept a lot and noise never seemed to bother him. We were a team for five years. He went everywhere with me and rarely were we apart.
Then Aaron was born. I had hoped for a little girl but was happy to have another little Bell boy join the ranks. Aaron was born with red hair and since there was another mom in the hospital with the last name Bell at the time, we wondered if we had the wrong baby! Aaron was our light sleeper -- once we got him to sleep! When he was a toddler, every night it was a chore to get him to stay in bed or to fall asleep and stay asleep. He'd fall asleep in the car, but awaken once the car stopped. Any little noise and he was up.
Two years later (one week prior to Aaron's birthday), Dan was born. I had really hoped for a girl at this point, but just before his birth a nurse told me it was another boy -- she could tell by his rapid heart beat.
|Bryan, Aaron and Dan at Arianna's home in Pawling, NY|
Alas, the years went by and each of the boys grew and developed their own personalities. Bryan, the adventurer, practiced daring tricks and used his brothers as participants. Aaron, became a little wary after years of this and eventually began to hold back on trying new things. Dan was happy go lucky and just would follow his big brother, Bryan, everywhere and try to do whatever he did.
|Karate Kids at Aunt Elaine's|
We often would observe the kids together and try to figure out what they would be like in their adult years. Bryan would be the creator, he would come up with a plan and he would direct the implementation. Aaron would observe and add commentary and supply the funding because he was the only one that had a savings account and started working prior to being a teen. Dan would add a practical element and provide some logical thinking.
It was humorous to watch. Most of the time watching them was painful because as the saying goes: "Three's a crowd." Unfortunately when sibling rivalry rose its ugly head it was usually Aaron who was left out. It drove me nuts that it always seemed to be two against one all the time. In later years, they learned to work together, especially if it was to devise a scheme against their parents. Oh, the stories they put together to cover each other!
In their teen years, Dan and Aaron were home while Bryan was off to college. Because the "third wheel" element was gone, they bonded together more than they had in the past, but still maintained a wary distance of each other. Of course teen hormones probably played a role in all this too. Ugh, I hated the arguments we had with each other or that they had between themselves. I was home-schooling both of them through their high school years and two more opposite students none could find! But they both managed to pull through and go on to college and make successful lives for themselves.
|Dan, Aaron, Bryan home for Christmas|
Aaron was home-schooled through his high school years and then went to college locally, so he was home the longest. After surviving the rebelliousness of his brother with us, he maintained his thoughtful calmness. But once those teen hormones kicked in and his college education started feeding his psych, he did what most teens do and started advising us on matters. It was interesting to listen to his logic which sounded so profound at times, until he decided he knew best and wouldn't tolerate what we were suggesting or doing. Aaron never became the rebellious teen his brother was, but he was a challenge just the same. He was a thinker. So you had to really listen to him and let him know he was heard or the conversation just ended. It was a challenge for me particularly, because he could sound so intelligent yet be a tad off course at the same time. I often felt sorry for Aaron as I was recovering from Bryan's teen years when Aaron started entering his own. Wary of what might be coming, my guard was up. This created friction and we had some lively discussions as a result. Aaron also always felt he was cheated somewhat being the "middle child". We tried to go out of our way to make sure he was treated fairly, but it never seemed to be enough. Then came the day I got him a kitten for Christmas, something he had always wanted. Our relationship made a major positive shift after that, but Dan also moved out of the house, so I never knew which had changed the dynamic -- the cat or Dan's move. Today Aaron is a very responsible young man and husband to Corinn, a NY native that grew up in Florida (and also his boss's daughter!) He has proven himself to be very sensitive, sensible and a strong advocate for working out solutions to almost any problem.
|JoAnn, Dan and Aaron |
on the bridge at Grandma Muller's
From the age of four we could see Dan had a mechanical mind. He would take his brother's construction toys and build them into a vehicle just by looking at the picture! (A major feat when I couldn't build it reading the directions!) Dan overcame his reading problem and proceeded to jump two levels on his own to catch up to his friends. This was a new "problem" for the school, but they did work with him. By fifth grade he wanted to be homeschooled, and even his tests showed he was over the class level. So we started homeschooling him in seventh grade. He did this until 10th grade when he asked to go back to public school. It was not an easy adjustment for him. But he exceeded and then went on to college. He moved to Florida to attend college and graduated with a degree in Computer Graphics. Now he designs graphics for training simulators and has his own apartment still in Florida. We are very proud of the young man he has become and can't wait to see where his talents take him.
|Aaron, Dan and Bryan|
in Grandma Muller's stream
Funny but as we look back on each of our sons lives and where they are at today, we can proudly say they are all respectful, responsible, intelligent and very thorough thinkers. While Jim and I look back and wonder how that all happened, we are grateful and proud to be their parents. Our hope is they continue to live happy and productive lives whatever they choose to become.
To each of our sons we want to extend our heartfelt thanks for the joy you have brought us through the years.