Al Roker: On any given day your children are trying to suck the life out of you

Al Roker wrote an essay for Guideposts, which a Christian magazine, about his nearly 17-year-old son, Nick, whom he had with his second and current wife, ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts. Al and Debra also have daughter Leila, about 20, and Al has another daughter, Courtney, 31, from his first marriage. Al is an Episcopalian and he wrote about Nick being active in the church with him, and how that is Nick’s choice and he enjoys it. The main focus of the essay is the fact that Nick has special needs and is on the spectrum. Al’s essay was very matter-of-fact yet descriptive. I really enjoyed it and felt like I was getting to know his family. It focuses on how Nick’s involvement in church has helped him grow, and how Al is proud of him and tries to be a good dad. Nick has earned a black belt in tae kwon do and has even gone on a mission trip to Haiti with other teens.

We knew right from the beginning that [Nick] would be up against a whole different set of challenges. He wasn’t developing as fast as he should have, not holding our fingers as tightly, not always meeting our gaze, not as quick to crawl. At three, he hardly talked and could barely walk.

Doctors and specialists put him through a slew of tests. Was it cerebral palsy? Autism? Maybe it was a processing disorder. Now that he’s 17, I can tell you that, yes, he’s somewhere on the spectrum and maybe obsessive-compulsive. But those labels can be frustrating; they don’t begin to describe who Nick really is…

St. James does a good job of getting kids involved. There are sermons for kids, children’s choirs, Sunday school, playgroups, a Christmas pageant with parts for everybody as well as that corps of acolytes. On Sundays when I was feeling really down about Nick—wondering where our son would find his place in this world—I found it a comfort to note that some of the acolytes also had special needs. One performed his duties in a wheelchair; another had Down syndrome…

Ever since he’s become an acolyte, Nick has the clearest focus, Sunday after Sunday. Those qualities that you might think would hold him back are exactly the ones that drive him forward. If I thought tae kwon do was all about form and purpose, so is this. Lighting the candles, carrying a torch, holding up the Bible for the lesson to be read and marching down the center aisle with the cross, concentrating on that altar. On Sundays he serves the Lord.

Nick is a hard worker; he’s got a great sense of humor; he’s outgoing and a good swimmer; he’s developing a pretty good top-of-the-key basketball shot. He takes chess lessons a couple times a week, and he does okay. He’s also very affectionate—like his grandfather—and full of love to share.

Do I get frustrated with my son sometimes? You bet. But then I remember my dad, how understanding he was. And Deborah reminds me that I have to show my son not only that I love him but that I like him as well. More than that, I admire him.

[From Guideposts]

If you’re interested in this story I would recommend you read it at the source as there’s more and it’s not too long. We don’t go to church but I found it moving how going to services has helped bring his family together. I also liked his description of how Nick’s perseverance and attention to order has helped him thrive with church duties and in tae kwon do. This whole story touched me, honestly, and it’s among the best celebrity essays I’ve read.

Guideposts has a video with Al too. He got me even more choked up when he said that his mom has passed and she would have loved that her grandson is active in church. He also said that you have to advocate for your child with special needs and accept their limitations but also not put limits on them. He said Nick is “Somebody God smiled on in a different way.” Then he admitted his kids bug the sh-t out of him. He said that “Some days he drives me nuts” but that “my other two kids drive me nuts in other ways.”

Then he joked, “No matter who they are they’re your children. On an given day they’re trying to suck the life out of you. Just leave you a dry husk. There are other days where you can’t believe you can love somebody this much. If you average it out, it’s pretty good.” I like him even more now!




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25 Responses to “Al Roker: On any given day your children are trying to suck the life out of you”

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  1. Scarlett says:

    “No matter who they are they’re your children. On an given day they’re trying to suck the life out of you. Just leave you a dry husk. There are other days where you can’t believe you can love somebody this much. If you average it out, it’s pretty good.” – THIS 1000% all of this!!

    • Cupcake says:

      This is quite possibly the BEST quote about parenting I have ever heard/read. It captures the experience perfectly and simply, both the everyday joy and work. It’s real and poignant. Al Roker? Who woulda thought?

    • CairinaCat says:

      It’s beautiful and so true, both my boys are bipolar and somewhere on the spectrum.
      They both are really super intelligent and funny and loving.
      They also both can really suck 😜

      My oldest is 23 and youngest is 14, they are both a trial and a huge joy .

      I really relate with Al 😂😄

  2. Jess says:

    Love Al. I bet he’s a great dad. And I only have two kids and agree that I love them so much but they do try to suck you dry. Plus, just have to say that I can never think of Al without thinking of his interaction with bro Billy Bush over bro Ryan Lochte. I’ll never forget that stirring.

  3. Lindy says:

    That quote of his about the balance between being sucked dry and being totally in love with your kids… I’m feeling it this morning. Really feeling it. Teething 1yo, 9yo with end of the school year blahs, work-commute-kid wrangle… Sometimes it feels like that sucked dry state is the one that wins. I’m trying to find the joy more often these days!

  4. DS9 says:

    I have a 17, 15, and 7 year old. They are great kids and I adore their kindness and differing senses of humor. I love spending time with them because they are fun to be with.

    But my god are they needy as hell.

    I dyed Easter eggs with the baby and midway through rolling them around in shaving cream he starts sobbing like his heart was broken. I thought he hurt something.

    “You’re better at this than I am!”

    Dear God in heaven, if you don’t get all the way the hell out with this bullshit…

    But nah, you have to hug them, love them, call them George and pretend that’s not the stupidest thing you’ve heard since he cried about Sonic running out of bananas.

    • Lala11_7 says:

      LOL!!!!! I swear before Vallhalla…I would have said/thought the SAME THING!

    • Ashley says:

      DS9, are you me living in my house with my kids?! 😂 my six year old is DRAMA with a capital d, and I just can’t with him sometimes.

    • FilmTurtle says:

      Oh my lord, that was funny. “Call them George”! Major Looney Tunes points for that one.

  5. Lala11_7 says:

    A BEAUTIFUL Love Letter to his child!

  6. Goldengirlslover34 says:

    I love Al! He is so right! Felt it this morning when Twin A came into our bedroom at 4am to say he wanted to color and I wanted to cry because I was so exhausted but then at 7:45 while getting ready for work I see Twin A and Twin B with their heads together coloring out of the same book and discussing what crayon colors they should use next. My heart exploded and all I wanted to do was stay home with them and color away.

    • Lindy says:

      I feel like this is the hardest thing to explain to my friends who don’t have kids! Last night somewhere in the middle of hour 2 of trying to get the baby to sleep while feeling parent guilt that I wasn’t nagging the older kiddo to finish the math homework, I was ready to change my name and move to Svarlbard and spend my years spearfishing in a hut, blissfully alone forever.

      Then this morning, the baby said his older brother’s name for the first time and older kiddo got so excited and it was the best thing ever.

      Gotta hold on to those joyful moments and return to them when I’m stuck in the middle of the “what fresh hell is this” moments.

      • Goldengirlslover34 says:

        Hahah exactly! I say I quit motherhood at least once a week but I really try to savour the moments. It goes by so fast. They were just babies yesterday who i could cuddle all day long but now they are toddlers too busy for s long hug. Soon they will be off on their own.

  7. Jay says:


  8. Lucia says:

    Al Roker always seems so positive to me.

    Conversations about raising kids make me sad. I really want to have them but I feel it’s unfair for me to do so given the unpredictable nature of my medical condition. I love kids all the same. I will continue to dote on my niece and nephew. Carry on.

    • Veronica S. says:

      Do mentoring! It’s questionable whether I could have kids, but I do enjoy being around them, so I moved in with a friend with children who needed help, and I’m getting the vicarious experience of child snuggles. Even if you don’t do something that drastic, mentoring programs are a huge benefit to both the recipient and the mentor.

      • Lucia says:

        That’s what I’ve been doing up until recently where I volunteered and worked with 8-12 year olds interested in business careers. I also volunteer with a cat rescue. I’ve had to take a break from all of that due to relapse of my MS.

        I can have kids if I wanted but we’ve chosen not to because we don’t want them to be affected by my MS and I also have been told by some in my support group who did have kids after diagnosis that it can make the MS worse. My husband and I made the decision to not have any of our own. It makes us sad sometimes – well I think he’s okay he was hesitant to have kids to begin with – I’m get more sad but volunteering has helped.

    • nicegirl says:

      Best wishes to you, Lucia.

      • Lucia says:

        Thanks. I’m going to be just fine. I find living with a mostly positive attitude about things really helps, as does getting out there and helping others when I can. Right now I can’t and it is frustrating at times but that’s okay.

    • IMUCU says:

      I’m going through the same thing bc I have an autoimmune disease. My husband is the same as yours sounds too with his opinion about having kids. I’ve decided, after nursing school, I am going to volunteer for the Big Sisters program.

    • Irishgal says:

      Lucia if you want kids, have them. They will love their mom regardless and be the most joy you have. My cousins MS goes into remisson while pregnant and she has 3 beautiful kids who know adore and help her x

      • Lucia says:

        I don’t know. I just had my 2nd relapse since diagnosis. I had about 5 years in between relapses. I’ve considered broaching the subject with my husband again. But I also don’t know if he wants kids and I respect that.

  9. Veronica S. says:

    I appreciate the positive coverage that’s starting to emerge more for children on the spectrum. After all those alarmist years of that garbage entity “Autism Speaks” framing the narrative around autism being a burden for caretakers, we’re finally seeing a push back to reframe it around the children struggling to engage with a world that isn’t designed for them.

    What he said is true, though. I live with my friend and her children, and last night I was up to 3 a.m. with her son because he was overtired but didn’t want to be alone and threw a fit anytime “Aunt Ronca” tried to put him in his room. He’s lucky he’s super cute. I feel like I’ve aged ten years living with them, my God.

  10. Mel M says:

    Really enjoyed this and makes me like him where I was pretty meh before on Al. Being my daughters advocate is exhausting and so many people don’t realize how much you do behind the scenes just to get basic things for your child to have quality of life. But it is what it is and she’s needs me to do everything I can.

    My daughter has profound special needs and even though people write her off and think she doesn’t understand things, oh yes she does. She understands and if you turn her movie off or try and watch a different one she will scream and cry and let you know. Right now it’s Moana and I’ve about reached my limit on that damn movie! She also doesn’t always like sitting alone and will whine and cry until you sit next to her and hold her hand. Some days she’s completely exhausting in her behavior, not just caring for her physically. I have three other typical kids and they all have their life sucking ways but I feel like everyone expects me to never get annoyed with my daughter because of her needs. She will also fake being asleep for therapists or give up what they do something she doesn’t like even though we know she can do it.

  11. meh says:

    where is the lie tho?