He was utterly confused about the whole situation. There were too many things going on at the same time, and he was having a hard time processing it all. His very own daughter—the apple of his eye—was standing in his doorway with a bag of takeout. But he hadn’t placed an order. When did she make it back into town? Was she working as a delivery person now? But when he inspected the takeout bag, everything became clear. Then, his family came to the same conclusion. Now he was even more astonished than before.
Darryl Cohen, from Orange County California, had always made sure to stay in touch with his daughter. He was very much present in her life. But that was pretty much expected in a family that’s as close as they are. Darryl and his wife Nini, their son, Grant, and their daughter, Victoria, are the true embodiment of a big old happy family. Time went by pretty fast, and in the blink of an eye, (or so it seemed) the kids were all grown up. They went their own ways, which made Darryl wonder if they’d be able to stay close despite the distance. As time went by, he realized it was a lot harder than it looked.
Letting go of your kids is hard, but Darryl wasn’t planning on staying out of the loop. Their bond was simply too great, even though they were miles apart. But the post-high school years are full of changes that can leave parents heartbroken. Watching your kid go on to live their own lives is a bit like those feelings you have when they first started school.
Darryl felt proud, but he was also overwhelmed by thinking of what the future held. He couldn’t help but wonder if his close-knit family could eventually turn into one of those families that barely saw each other once a year. At times, Darryl couldn’t help but wonder if his family would face so many challenges, but he also knew their bond was simply too great.
Darryl’s son, Grant, started working at a few successful startups and he was loving the ambience and the many challenges that lie ahead in the tech industry. He became a successful monetization expert, and went on to become Chief Product Officer and co-founder of FCFL, a football league where avid fans can choose the team’s plays and strategy via digital channels. But this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill business venture. Celebrities like Norm MacDonald, Ray Austin, and Joe Montana were among the many investors and company owner’s that had total and complete faith in the project. Grant was acing his professional life, but that wasn’t the main reason why his family was so proud of him.
Grant is the proud father of two babies that bring so much happiness and joy to him and his wife, Chanel Mailloux Cohen. But the lovely young couple weren’t the only ones who were completely absorbed by having these kids in their life. When they broke the news that Chanel was having the couple’s first baby, they did it at Maggiano’s Little Italy, an LA-based family-style Italian restaurant. Both Darryl and Nini were elated. Their family was expanding, and they were thrilled to become grandparents for the first time. Victoria was planning on being the best auntie they could ever ask for. They were just starting to live their lives and it was exciting.
Becoming a grandparent for the very first time was even more thrilling and exciting than Darryl and Nini could’ve ever imagined. Grandparents can be the bedrock where the family stands. They can be the voice of reason and help guide both your grown-up child and their baby. It’s pretty mind-blowing to realize your baby is having a baby!
Even though Chanel was the one who was pregnant, the Cohens couldn’t help but sympathize a little too much with her ever-expanding belly and growing pains. In a weird way, they were a bit more excited than Grant and Chanel were!
But Grant wasn’t the only one who was excelling in his professional life. Victoria went on to study Information Engineering & Management at Southern Methodist University in Texas, but she wasn’t only interested in submerging herself in school books. While she was living in New York, she landed an internship at PepsiCo. Her managers were so thrilled by her performance, that as soon as she graduated, they offered her a full-time position at their Chicago office. Victoria was a California girl at heart, but she realized she needed to take her chances and move forward in her career. She decided to take their offer and move. But that decision lead to an unexpected turn.
After working at PepsiCo for a few years in the supply chain department, Victoria couldn’t help but feel like she was missing something in her life. She moved away from that department and switched to a role in Shopper Marketing. Perhaps, all she needed was a change of scenery. But that didn’t fulfill her either. Victoria was faced with the difficult reality that perhaps, this wasn’t her true path. She eventually stepped away from the corporate world and started working on a project she was passionate about, but it also terrified her to the core: yoga.
Victoria had always felt a great deal of passion for yoga, and she knew that quitting the corporate world would be a nothing short of insane, particularly because she was doing so well at her job. But Victoria couldn’t ignore her passion for yoga. And honestly, we can’t really stop and analyze our life’s passion and purpose. Sometimes we just have to follow our heart and take the plunge.
But in 2016, Victoria decided to listen to her heart and do the unthinkable. It wasn’t even the “right” moment to venture out on her own, as she was getting married to her fiance, Tom Burke, and moving into a new home. But Victoria felt she needed to quit her job, and take control of her life. She focused full-time on becoming a yoga instructor. In little to no time, she got certified through Bare Feet Power Yoga, where she started teaching classes. She was so enthralled by healthy living, that she started a blog called, “Almonds & Asana.” “At that point, I realized what was missing was an outlet to discuss the things I’m passionate about,” she explained. But life was about to surprise her again a few months later.
It was another typical day for Darryl and his wife, Nini. One night in March of this year, they were both relaxing at home, while Nini was cooking dinner. A knock on the door interrupted an otherwise regular night at the Cohen household. When Darryl opened the door, he was surprised to see his daughter Victoria staring back at him, standing in front of the doorway. Tom, her husband, was right by her side, and recording the whole thing. But when Victoria told Darryl those magical worlds, his entire world changed.
“Did someone order Maggiano’s?” Victoria jokingly asked Darryl as soon as he opened the door. He was completely dumbfounded and confused to see her there. “What?” he asked his daughter, trying to figure out what was going on. “Did someone order Maggiano’s?” she asked Darryl once more, as she held the takeout bag right in front of him, clearly hinting at something. For a few seconds, Darryl was completely stunned, until he figured out what his daughter was trying to tell him.
Darryl immediately covered his mouth with his hands and started tearing up in disbelief. He couldn’t say anything else but “No!” Victoria and her husband were elated by his response, and couldn’t help but crack up and bask in the glorious moment. They walked inside their home, where Darryl leaned in and gave her an emotional kiss on the cheek and hugged her. Victoria wanted to talk to her mom, so she asked, “Where’s mom, is she here?” Right then and there, Nini was making her way towards the door. “No! Maggiano’s?” she screamed, as soon as she saw the takeout bag. But what was so special about their takeout?
But their history with Mangiano’s goes all the way back, 7 years ago to be precise, when Grant and his wife, Chanel, broke the exciting news that they were expecting their first baby. Then, when Chanel became pregnant again with their second one, they took the whole family back to the same restaurant and shared the good news again. Eventually, Mangiano’s became an inner joke in the Cohen family, as now, everyone expected someone in the family to announce their pregnancy whenever they went there. But it wasn’t until a few years later that the recurring joke ended up catching on.
Unbeknownst to the rest of the family, Grant and his wife took their family’s running joke very seriously. When she became pregnant again with their third baby, they planned on telling everyone at Mangiano’s, but everyone’s schedules kept getting in the way. So Grant had to find a different way to break the news. He gave everyone a call and told them that he and his wife “were planning to go back to Maggiano’s.” The couple’s true intentions were as clear as day. That’s when Mangiano’s became synonymous with “we’re expecting a child,” and a new family tradition was born. Once Victoria realized she was expecting her first, she immediately jumped on the bandwagon and wanted to keep the tradition alive.
As soon as Victoria realized she was expecting her first child, she couldn’t contain her joy. She wanted to blurt it out and call everyone to let them know there was another Cohen grandchild on the way. But she wanted to keep the tradition alive. Victoria and her husband decided to book a flight from Illinois to California without telling a single soul. She wanted to surprise her father who was in complete shock after hearing the news. But sadly, Victoria’s pregnancy wasn’t a walk in the park.
The truth is, being pregnant isn’t easy. At times, it can be even more difficult than we could’ve anticipated, something Victoria was able to experience first hand on the 11th week of her pregnancy. She had just come back from teaching yoga when all of a sudden, she couldn’t stop gagging uncontrollably. Her senses had heightened after she became pregnant, but she’d always been really delicate when it came to different smells. Victoria and Tom’s condo had a lingering drywall smell, but that wasn’t the only thing that was making her sick. Their downstairs neighbor was working on his floors at the time, so the smell of hardwood floors getting stained was making her even more nauseous. Tom quickly advised Victoria to walk away and leave the house asap.
Victoria stayed at a hotel that was located a few blocks away. But the soon-to-be parents made sure to spend some quality time with Darryl and Nini over the weekends, which did wonders for Victoria’s overall health. Luckily, Victoria was prescribed some anti-nausea medication which helped her leave the hotel and get back home without getting sick. But Victoria is still haunted by that horrible week, which she now refers to as the worst week of her pregnancy. “I’m hoping the worst of it is behind me and I can finally move on,” she wrote on her blog, “Almonds + Asana.” Luckily, Victoria has been doing incredibly well and she has recently given birth to a beautiful baby boy named Ford. Congratulations!