Our next choice as a power couple is Mark & Jami Wallace! Power Couples that are living an abundant life share some common beliefs and for Mark & Jami, 100 percent dedication is the key. What does an abundant life look like? Remember we are not looking at the world’s definition of a “Power Couple,” we are looking at what gives these couples the power to live an abundant life through joy, challenges, successes, and love.
What do you and your spouse do for a living?
MARK: I work several jobs. I serve as managing editor for Car Biz Today, a national B2B magazine. I also am an author of six books, including my latest fictional book, ‘In Pursuit of The Pale Prince.’ And I run my creative agency, MWM Communications LLC where I freelance write and design.
JAMI: I work with adults with special needs in a program called Adults in Action, located south of Atlanta in Fayetteville, Ga.
MARK: She is also the glue of our house and an amazing wife, mother, tutor, and teacher.
How does it compromise family life sometimes?
MARK: As anyone with a long commute knows, the time with family in the evenings is short, thus it is precious. With my creative writing, I’ve been able to work my schedule my family so that is never an issue.
What do you do to balance work and home life?
MARK: I find that just 100 percent dedication to both while you’re there is key. I work to make sure that when I am home with my family; it is 100 percent about them and avoids checking into work digitally via. Email, alerts or social media. I know that certain nights are dedicated to certain activities – Tuesday nights are for me and our oldest son, Patrick and Wednesday nights are for me and Andrew.
JAMI: I spend a couple of nights a week taking Patrick to activities. Mark and I try to carve out time for each other every weekend, even if it means handing the boys an electronic device for an hour or so.
What do you like to do as a family on weekends or on vacation?
MARK: With our youngest son’s diagnosis with Cri du Chat syndrome, traveling is not really an option for us. The four of us have only had two vacations in the last 12 years. That said, we really make an effort to do small vacations with our older son. Every year, one of us takes him on a trip somewhere for a few days. That way we are still creating special memories with him and not hamstringing his world. We also do small date nights with him too, even if it is just a run-up to The Waffle House, a trip to the Dollar Tree or a hike in the woods.
Tell us about your children?
MARK: Patrick is 12. He is very smart and creative and a wizard of wit. He recently joined the Civil Air Patrol. Andrew is 11. He has Cri du Chat, a deletion of the Fifth Chromosome and is intellectually delayed. Despite that, he has a sunny disposition and loves to joke and laugh.
What is important for your child to know about family values?
MARK: Integrity. Always telling the truth, because when it is all over, that is all you have. Also, having compassion is integral to living a good life and to remember to always do your best and follow the teachings of The New Testament.
JAMI: It’s true that the best thing you can do for your children is to love their other parent. Our kids know that our marriage comes first.
How do you deal with problems with your children’s school or with other children?
JAMI: We come from a family of educators so we do our best to support our children’s teachers and work with them to educate our children. However, we have had times when we’ve had to go to battle on behalf of our children. Thankfully, we had established a reputation that made it possible for our concerns to be addressed. As far as other children, we try to encourage our boys to walk away from conflict when possible, but to stand up for themselves when necessary.
How important are family traditions to you both?
MARK: They are very important to me. I think traditions and rituals are anchors in our chaotic world. That said, one thing my wife and I have done is create our own rituals and traditions. For example, instead of collard greens and black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day, we have Greek Stew. Also, sometimes we like to celebrate feast days, like St. Nicholas Day and even C.S. Lewis feast day.
What is the biggest challenge you have as a family right now?
MARK: The boys are both pre-teens so that is a challenge within itself. In all candor, living with a special needs child is always challenging in every part of life.
JAMI: Our boys are very stubborn and they are at an age where they can’t understand that mom and dad still know best.
How does it test your faith and how does it bring your faith and hope back to the forefront?
JAMI: It’s hard to see what seems like God’s blessings on others who are no more deserving than we are while we are dealing with the many challenges that come with a parenting a child with special needs. However, our journey has taught me the lessons of unconditional love and how God the Father can possibly love us in spite of our bad behavior. As for our family, we attend church and we do regular devotionals.
MARK: Having a special needs child tests my faith on every level from the simple to the existential. I keep praying, am honest with myself and God on how I feel. Most of the time I see good in this world being done by others and that helps bring my faith around. As I’ve written before though on www.specialneedsdadchronicles.com, I have a weak faith, but, as Frederick Buechner said, “‘Lord I believe, help my unbelief’ is the best any of us can do, but thank God it is enough.”
What’s the most important thing you learned from your parents?
JAMI: My mother was not one to mollycoddle and with my father out of the picture my siblings and I were forced to learn what we were capable of especially by watching the things our mother managed on her own.
MARK: I learned that communication is important in a relationship. I learned that you should never be a workaholic because it never pays off in the end.
What do you think is your responsibility to your community?
JAMI: When our son Andrew was first born, I told Mark I did not want to join the ‘Special Needs Club,’ but rather I wanted things to remain as normal as possible. However, as our ‘normal’ friends fell by the wayside, we became more involved in the special needs community. I now believe we have a responsibility to share the world with our son and our son with the world as much and as often as possible. It is my mission to teach the world that our son and others like him, though different, are extremely valuable and have a lot to teach us. I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with adults with special needs. We spend a lot of time in the community and I love to watch them spread their joy.
MARK: I believe in a strong sense of community and locally I try to contribute a few times a year in some form. But, my idea of community has shifted from just a geographical term to a broader sense, especially in the special needs arena. That is our community for the most part and I do what I can to help other fathers of special needs children through things like my blog, my nonfiction book, ‘Confessions of a Special Needs Dad,’ or volunteering.
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