“Because Daisy and Milo have other siblings, and because we want Daisy and Milo to know that the decision for adoption was a decision of love on both our part and the birth mothers’ parts, one of our traditions is to pick out Christmas presents for Daisy’s and Milo’s siblings every year.”
Can you introduce me to yourselves?
Patrick: We are the Livingston family. We love theater. We have two kids, Milo and Daisy. My name’s Patrick, and this is Lindsay.
Daisy: Umm, your wife.
Patrick: Yes, Lindsay is my wife… And I work at Blickenstaff’s.
Daisy: But you promised to stay where the clothes were!
Patrick: Yes, I did promise, but then I decided to go where the toys were. Which is better: clothes or toys?
Patrick: Right. I used to work at Anthropologie, so that’s what she means by “where the clothes were.”
Lindsay: And like Patrick said, I am Lindsay, his wife. I teach theater at BYU, and we moved here to Provo about a year ago.
Daisy: Mom! Mom, mom, mom. Can you tell them a secret?
Daisy leans in close to Lindsay’s ear to whisper a secret.
Lindsay: Daisy wants me to tell you that she just barely lost her first baby tooth.
Daisy: And my new tooth is coming in and it has bumpy edges!
Where are you and Patrick from?
Lindsay: We are both from around here, but we lived in Los Angeles for the first year of our marriage and in New York kind of for the rest of it.
Milo, in the background: A, B, D, F, J, L…
Patrick: Are you getting this alphabet singing? He loves this song.
Milo, still going: Sing with me!
What did you love about New York?
Patrick: We just loved every bit of it. We couldn’t quite figure out how to raise our family there, and that’s why we moved, but we want to go back. New York is where we hope to end up. I am in love with how different everyone in New York is. The diversity is very pretty. Sitting on the subway, I just felt like I was in some exotic place, and that is a characteristic of New York that is pretty hard to duplicate anywhere else.
Lindsay: I loved being out in the world. It’s impossible to live in New York and not experience what is going on around you. Here in Utah, sometimes I feel like I go straight from my house to my car, then into work, then back into my car, and back home. I don’t have daily interactions with people here like I did in New York, and I miss being around all those different people with all their different goals and lifestyles.
Patrick: But we really have loved Provo. We don’t want to badmouth it or anything. The people here are wonderful, just in a different way from the people in New York.
What is it that draws you both to theater?
Lindsay: Well Patrick likes to say that I am in the boring part of theater (laughs). I don’t act, I don’t sing, I don’t do any of that. I teach Directing and Theater History, so my way of looking at theater performance comes more from a perspective of daily life. I feel like we are all performers all the time, so I enjoy stepping back from the idea that performances only happen in real theaters. Studying and teaching Directing and Theater History allow me to realize and be aware of the fact that theater is happening constantly.
Can you give me an example of what you mean?
Lindsay: Yes. I think kids are a great example. Almost everything kids learn while they are young comes through imitation and mimicking. Kids learn words from what they hear, they learn how to dance and move and clap like other people dance and move and clap. They are always learning from the performances of others, and they soak up those performances and make it a part of themselves. We are all like that, and I think it is really great.
And Patrick, what draws you to theater?
Patrick: I love storytelling. Good storytelling has the potential to evoke so much emotion, and when I am in a play or see a play where a story moves me, life seems more beautiful and powerful.
How do you feel that theater has enriched your family life?
Patrick: In our marriage, theater has been something that bonds us together. We never have to struggle to find a date idea that we both like, or feel like we are spending too much time on separate hobbies. And our kids love the theater. If you haven’t noticed, our kids are a little bit of attention grabbers themselves (laughs), so they like seeing the production and performances of theater people.
Lindsay: I feel that imagination and storytelling have been so important in mine and Patrick’s life, so when we get really into storytelling or playing with our kids, we feel like we’re genuinely into it and not just pretending to enjoy the time spent playing with our kids. In other words, imagination and storytelling are a part of our family life, not just our kids’ lives. And we think that’s okay! Because even in our professions, Patrick and I are little kids. Patrick goes to work and plays with toys all day, and I go to school and teach kids about theater (laughs).
Do you have any family traditions?
Patrick: We are really big into the 4th of July. And without realizing it when we bought it, our house is the perfect 4th of July house. The fire line in our neighborhood ends at our street corner, so all the people that live above us bring their fireworks down by our house. Our neighbors are great and love to do block parties, so someone in our neighborhood is always grilling or partying on the street for the 4th of July. So our tradition, I guess, is buckling down to get through the winter and then letting loose on the 4th of July.
Lindsay: And I think we have another one that is very unique. Our kids are adopted, and they both have siblings from their birth moms…
Daisy: I do not have a birth mom.
Lindsay: Well… That’s what Gayle is. Gayle is your birth mom.
Patrick: Because she is the one that had you in her tummy.
Lindsay: And because Daisy and Milo have other siblings, and because we want Daisy and Milo to know that the decision for adoption was a decision of love on both our part and the birth mothers’ parts, one of our traditions is to pick out Christmas presents for Daisy’s and Milo’s siblings every year. We want Daisy and Milo to understand that their family is bigger than just Patrick and me, and we don’t want them to feel like there are parts of their lives that they don’t know about.
Why do you think it is important for families to have traditions?
Patrick: I’m realizing now, because we are raising children, that my own parents worked so hard to provide me with an amazing childhood. As a kid, everything is magical, but as an adult, I realized that everything that was magical about my childhood came from my parents’ efforts. For example, my mom always gave our family presents on Groundhog’s Day — that was important in our family for some reason — but I will always remember how important that was as a child because it was magical. And I want my children to be able to feel the same way, because they should feel that way. Parents, in establishing family traditions, are creating a more magical childhood for their children.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to raising a happy family?
Lindsay: Other than my own limitations (laughs)? Actually, I think the biggest struggle is devoting time to my children. Patrick and I both work full time, and that makes it harder to establish daily traditions and rituals. For example, I can’t be the mom that’s waiting for her kids with a plate of cookies for them to eat after school, so Patrick and I have to work really hard to overcome that obstacle of never doing anything special for our kids because we don’t have time.
Patrick: Umm, I’m just going to say lack of sleep (laughs). If I don’t get enough sleep, if the kids don’t get enough sleep, if my wife doesn’t get enough sleep, well, then no one is happy.
What is the best aspect of parenting?
Patrick: I don’t know, that’s a hard question to answer. I just love our kids. I love the phase of life we are in. Even though the amount of work is surprising, the feeling of fulfillment in raising kids is wonderful. Actually, I really enjoy how unique each child can be. For example, Milo somehow found a basketball and started dribbling it and yelling, “BASKETBALL!” Despite all of my efforts to keep basketball hidden from him, he has found it in his own way and started loving it.
Why did you try to hide it? Because you can’t play?
Patrick: Exactly. I’ll never be able to help him at home (laughs). But he has six uncles that can all play really well, so they are probably all just waiting for him to grow up.
Daisy, standing up to announce something to us: Ladies and gentlemen! The proud and unstoppable basketball kid, Milo!
“Ladies and gentlemen! The proud and unstoppable basketball kid, Milo!”
If you could pick one lesson that your children learn from you while living at home, what would it be?
Patrick: I want our children to learn how to be grateful and polite. Those are two characteristics that every child would be better off having. Once I asked Daisy to say, “Yes, father” to me when I asked her to do something, and now she can get me to do anything for her when she calls me that (laughs). “Excuse me, father, can I please have some more juice?” I mean, how do you say no to something that cute and that polite? So now I really do believe in being polite.
Daisy: Excuse me, how many more questions are they going to ask? I am just so late to play.
Patrick: Oh, I am sorry! Can we get one more picture before you go play?
Daisy: Just one, please.
“Excuse me, how many more questions are they going to ask? I am just so late to play.”
Aria takes the last picture, Daisy jumps off the couch and runs out the door.
Patrick: Wow, she’s really out of here. She must have really been late.