Nicholas D’Ambra

Living Christmas in the Present

Nicholas X-Mas IAs a child, I never understood why adults were so stressed out about the holidays, and especially, Christmas. After all, it is a time of giving, joy, fun, food, presents and all-round merriment. Isn’t is?

I remember times when we didn’t see a family member or two, most likely, because of one misunderstanding or another. My own parents were frantically shopping, wrapping and having conversations about “don’t forget so and so, did you get them something?” Stressful conversations abounded about the food to be ordered and retrieved from the various shops.

Every year, without fail, my mom would say, “This is the last year I’m making these cookies!” as she tossed another pan in the trash that didn’t meet her criteria of taste and consistency. There were the occasional terse words exchanged. And, sometimes there were tears behind closed doors… or even across the table.

I didn’t understand: How did anything else matter? It was Christmas!! [Read More…]

Sometimes I Feel Like Dunking my Kids’ Heads in Water (A Religious Ritual)

baptismI was born and raised Catholic. That is: Baptism-Communion-Confirmation.

With two Catholic parents, there was no other option for me when I entered the world. Like a brand on my arm, I respond to people with this information when asked me about my religion. I am not, however, Catholic.

When I came out in my late teens/early twenties, again in my mid-twenties and lastly in my early thirties, I had so much trouble trying to rectify who I was with “my birth religion.” Science only furthered my estrangement …and my disillusionment. At one point in my life, I believed it impossible for a truly intelligent person to believe in God or any organized religion, at all.

How was this not obvious to anyone with an I.Q. over 90? [Read More…]

By |November 8th, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Fatherhood, Gay Fathers|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Why Are Our Children’s Issues Held With Such Secrecy and Shame?

Nicholas son in winter

“I hate myself. I can’t do it. I’m no good at it. Everyone else can do it and I can’t.”

When I picked my son up from kindergarten many months ago, he uttered those first four sentences. I was driving, so I pulled over to try to understand what he was talking about and find out why he was so upset.

With tears streaming down his face and my heart sinking fast, he told me that the other kids in his class could write words and he could not. I told him we would work on it together and he would be able to write words, too. I took a piece of paper from my glovebox and wrote ‘I Love You’ on it and I brought it to him in the backseat. I went over each word with him. Over and over. And over. [Read More…]

Awash in Rainbows

rainbow flagsRecently, I read an article in the Washington Post by a 26-year old gay man who was upset about the some 26 million Facebook users who enveloped their profile photos in rainbows. He felt that there was much insincerity on the part of many who were doing nothing more than boosting their own personal PR portraits.

Gay marriage, or marriage, as I hope it will be referred to from here on out, isn’t one man’s struggle. It took a tremendous amount of support from a great number of people to make this change happen. It didn’t happen in 26 years. Some people fought for it and didn’t live to see it. [Read More…]

Kids Can Be Cruel, But Parents Can Be Worse

words hurtMy son has always loved to run and race. I remember when he was about three. We were at a park and he walked up to two kids about six years old and asked them if they wanted to race.  They said no.

I could see the crestfallen look upon his face. He walked up to me and said, “No one wants to play with me, Daddy.” My heart sank.

I said that I would play with him and began  racing him around the small playground. I was saddened by the older kids’ response. However, these children weren’t mean at all, just dismissive of a little boy they deemed too young. Nonetheless, to see your child looking so sad and rejected at the age of 3 is very difficult to witness.

What I didn’t realize was this was only the beginning. [Read More…]

How My Dad Taught Me to be a Dad

Nicholas D'Ambra's dad IVI’m not an expert at being a Dad, but I learned a lot from my own father, who happened to be the best. He wasn’t perfect. He definitely made mistakes. However, he made those mistakes seem like integral threads in the blanket of parenting.

He always put his family first. Like his father before him, my Dad worked hellishly long hours to provide for his family. I couldn’t list five things he ever purchased for himself. He would often go without, so his kids could go with.

He always made time for his children. At the end of a 14-hour day, he would help coach my Little League team. I would wait for him to come home in summertime at the top of our block, sitting on a wall. He smiled whenever he saw me there. I would get into the car and drive the short distance home where he would grab something to eat on our way to practice. [Read More…]

Is Mother’s Day Just Another (Obligatory) Hallmark Holiday?

Nicholas' mom II remember reading somewhere that a stay-at-home mom’s salary hangs somewhere around $112,000 a year. This includes overtime, which… lets’ face it…it should. The hourly average comes out at .25 below $18 per hour. Where we live, we pay a good sitter $15 per hour, so that hourly rate is, if anything, low (insert wide-eye emoticon here).

The two things we do not value enough in this country are stay-at-home parents (I’m including Dads here, because times have changed, people!) and teachers. It’s ironic, really, because as Americans, we want to be the best in all things and we value family so very much.

And if we value family so much, then why are moms… and dads who stay at home so under-valued/under-appreciated? [Read More…]

By |May 2nd, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Gay Fathers, Rituals & Spirituality|Tags: , |0 Comments

To V(accinate) or Not to V(accinate) – That is the Question

I am, by nature, a realist. With a propensity to be pessimistic.
(I think my California “village” can overwhelmingly attest to that.)

About a week ago I found out my son had Chickenpox (Varicella virus). My first thought was how could this happen? My subsequent thoughts involved more hits on Google than a Kardashian.

After too much wine and online research (and a visit to our pediatrician), I realized my son would be fine. My worries, however, continued to swirl. As newer parents with children born after the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine debate, we did spread out our son’s vaccines when he was younger. (Our daughter, however, is on schedule.)

This time around, our concern is about what our school aged son may bring home with him each day. My seven-month-old daughter, who is contently and constantly on the receiving end of kisses and squeezes from my 6 year old son, was extremely vulnerable to contracting the virus.

[Read More…]

Skipping Valentine’s Day Forever (A Love Story)

Nicholas son in winterWhen I was little, my Dad would come home every Valentine’s Day with his arms over flowing with sweets and treats from our local Douglas Drug store. I can imagine him standing in a long line with other men who were last minute shopping.

My Dad wasn’t a last minute shopper, this was just how he did it, every single year.  The gifts he carried weren’t just for my Mom, but for me and my sister as well. There were always chocolates for us and sometimes a toy or stuffed animal.  My mom annually received a large heart-shaped box of chocolates and roses.

Years later, I carried on with the tradition. I bought similar gifts for that special person I was dating. I also purchased various chocolates and heart shaped items for my single friends so they wouldn’t feel left out. Then, when I met my husband-to-be, it all changed. Valentine’s Day was no longer that special day to espouse love and present gifts. It was just another day, no special than any other. It saddened me to think it was over. [Read More…]

Still a Thing Or Two To Learn at My Age (A Starbucks Story)

Nick and Starbucks II can still hear my loud, echoing voice inside the car. Alone in my car, I was yelling, windows closed, at the woman in front of me who forgot she was turning left.  There we were in the middle of the road together for that split second, and I lost my sh#t.

I wasn’t the only one. Others around us were extolling a similar response. Looking at their faces yelling at us, made me think of how my own face must have looked at that moment in time. Pinched, angry, red faces all encircling this unfortunate woman who made a tiny misstep.

I want to be better than that. I do. I remember reading a bumper sticker that said, “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” I suppose most people want that too, Michael Vick notwithstanding. For myself, I want to be the person that I want my kids to become. [Read More…]

By |January 24th, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Gay Fathers|Tags: , , |0 Comments
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