The Times West Virginian

November 19, 2012

Balanced approach

For Bean family, ‘working as a team is critical’

By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Teamwork.

That’s how Adrienne and T.J. Bean see marriage.

Their life is full. Both work. She is a psychologist who owns a treatment center for children with autism, among other things. He’s the band director at East Fairmont High School.

Then there are their two boys, Aidan, 4, and Ashton, 2.

True, Adrienne works only two days a week. On those days, family members and even T.J. step in to watch the little ones.

“It all works out well,” she said.

“I think the biggest thing that keeps us moving well is having a good marriage. We try to make that a priority. It’s not just being a parent and a professional. You have to focus on your marriage, work as a team, help each other.”

Like with housework. She cooks and cleans, but so does T.J.

“We’re a good team. That helps us the most,” Adrienne said.

“We both have crazy schedules,” T.J. said. “We love our two little boys to death and we want to maximize the fun time with them. So we work as a team to get things done to spend more time together.”

Sometimes they go with him to band camp or band practice.

“He’ll be holding one boy in one arm and the other in his other arm, and be directing the band,” Adrienne said fondly. “It’s a nice setup. It helps blend the areas.

“Working as a team is critical. We compromise and try to help each other in any way we can, and our family helps as much as possible.”

And if need be, she can always take the kids to work with her. Why not? She’s got a huge playroom in her office, she said.

Balancing work, family and self “is a challenge,” she said. “You can never balance it perfectly. It’s just trial and error. It’s always changing. You just figure out where it works, and if it doesn’t work, you put more effort into it.”

For her, being a mom and wife come first.

“I make those my biggest priority,” she said.

Both she and T.J. come from small families. But that doesn’t mean family is not important.

“It’s everything,” she said. “We both come from good families. Our parents never divorced. That’s how we want things for our kids. We don’t want them to be that statistic.

“We’re trying to lay that foundation for them. We want them to be gentlemen who are happy and loving and loved. Whatever job they choose doesn’t bring happiness. Everything else will fall in line.”

One way they’re steering their boys on that right path is taking them to church, especially on Christmas Eve.

“It’s laying a foundation for them at an early age, family and Jesus and God. We’re starting a tradition that they will carry on.”

The two boys are as different as night and day.

“Aidan and Ashton are the best of friends. They truly love each other. It’s great to see Aidan protect and comfort Ashton, cuddle and snuggle and all that.”

Ashton, the younger of the two, is “our easy-going, ornery little boy,” Adrienne said. “Aidan is the true big brother. He’s the protector and is very smart. He’s tough, all boy.”

“Aidan wants you to teach him,” T.J. said. “He’s more active in things. He’s the best big brother in the world. He says, ‘I keep little Ashton safe.’

“Ashton is our discoverer. He’s gonna figure things out on his own. He’s not afraid to explore. And he’s a jokester.”

Being a dad “is everything I thought it would be and 500 times more. I love to watch these two little human beings grow and explore and discover things every single day.”

“I’m blessed that I get to guide them in what I hope is the right path,” T.J. said. “It’s exciting to know that some day they’ll grow up and become adults.”

Being a parent does have its challenges, he admitted.

“But everything rewarding is hard. This is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever taken on. They are absolutely phenomenal.”

Adrienne loves being a mom.

“I love giving love and knowing I have the big responsibility to teach my kids so they can grow up and make a difference in the world, and be a good person and keep that going.

“Being a mom is challenging yet motivating. It’s the hardest and the best job in the world.

“Kids aren’t born with instruction manuals, even though I wish they were. As much as I’ve been trained and schooled — I have a doctorate in psychology and focus on kids — I still learn from my boys every day.”

Email Debra Minor Wilson at dwilson@timeswv.com.