Charles Shaughnessy article from Soap Opera Weekly 8.7.1990

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

Despite the dirty diapers and sleepless nights, two Days stars dote on their darling daughters

By Janet Di Lauro

Soap Opera Weekly Magazine

August 7, 1990

A lot of parents squabble back and forth about who their baby looks like— not Charles Shaughnessy (Shane, Days) and his wife, Susan. From the moment their daughter Jenny Johanna made her debut (March 18, 1990), the verdict on which parent she resembled was crystal clear.

“She looks just like me,” Shaughnessy announces proudly. “There’s no question. I pulled out some old baby pictures of myself, and Jenny looks exactly like I did back then. She’s me with a bow…me in pink,” he laughs.

“Susan agrees. She keeps saying, ‘I’m afraid I was just a vessel for this whole thing.’ There’s absolutely nothing of Susan in Jenny. But babies change, so we’ll see. We kind of divvy it out. We hope she has my hair and Susan’s eyes. She has my nose though,” he admits reluctantly. “The Shaughnessy nose, which is huge. I guess every baby’s nose looks huge.”

The Shaughnessys waited nearly seven years (the couple celebrated their anniversary May 21) before deciding to have a child. It was a mutual decision [to delay having kids] that the couple believes really prepared them for parenthood.

“I think it’s a great idea and I recommend it to anyone, if it’s possible,” notes Shaughnessy. “Since Susan and I were married a long time before deciding to have a baby, we’d really settled into each other and a way of life. We’d done all that going out and partying together, taking vacations…all that kind of stuff. We were very comfortable with each other. At that point, we were solid enough to bring in this other element that would divert our attention.”

“So no one feels left out now,” he says. “There’s no jealousy. I’m glad we waited. If anything, it’s simply drawn us close together. It may have just deepened our relationship.”

The special closeness began the moment Jenny Johanna was born. Shaughnessy was right by his wife’s side throughout the whole labor and delivery process.

“It was the most intense experience that I’ve ever had in my entire life…being there with Susan and going through that together,” he admits. “People were coming in and out of the room, but I was so tired and so concentrated on getting Susan through the pain and dealing with the incredible thing that was going on, that it’s all kind of a blur. I don’t really remember anything.”

Except, of course, that moment when his beautiful baby girl made her debut! “We were both so emotionally and physically drained, that by the time the baby came we had no resistance left. There was no way of filtering the enormity of what was going on,” he explains. “This extraordinary event ran over us like a steam train. I was completely flattened for days!”

So you can imagine how his wife felt! “It’s funny, because [birth] is two such separate experiences of the same thing [for a husband and a wife],” notes Shaughnessy. “I can only guess at what the woman goes through…finding these extraordinary reserves of endurance to go through the pain and actually have the baby. Fatherhood is a whole different ball game. It’s 100 percent emotional intensity. [You’re] sharing in the experience, but it’s not quite yours. It’s yours once removed.”

“Yet, it left us equally drained,” he continues. “I couldn’t talk to anyone about it for days. I had to call certain people to say we’d had the baby and all that, but that was it. Then, people started calling us. I could talk to them about the weather and how Susan was doing, but the minute I started to talk about the baby, I’d start crying! I’d have to hand the phone over to Susan. People would say, ‘Charlie, what’s going on?’ And Susan would tell them, ‘Charlie’s still a little upset. He’s still a little emotional about the whole thing. He can’t really talk about it yet.’ Meanwhile, I’d be weeping in the corner,” he laughs recalling the incident.

Fro the record, the new father has stopped crying and has adjusted perfectly to being a daddy except for maybe one thing.

“The lack of sleep,’ he jokes. “Actually, it’s really been just a delight. Sure, you sleep is broken up a lot, but by chance it’s coincided with a very lean time for me (at Days). I haven’t been working a lot, so I haven’t had to get up at five in the morning and spend all day, every day, at the studio, then go home to deal with the baby. I’ve had more time at home, which is terrific.”

“It’s funny. People say your life changes completely when you have a baby, and it does…but it doesn’t,” he philosophizes. “It’s very hard to describe. I don’t feel my life has changed. Actually, it’s kind of progressed. It’s not a 180-degree turn…it’s not a violent change of direction. It’s a movement in the same direction. Suddenly, there’s someone else to take into account and take care of. It’s like the final piece of a jigsaw has been put in. My life really does feel very complete now. Jenny’s filled up that space for love that was there.”

And with each passing day that love gets stronger. Shaughnessy looks forward to every single moment of fatherhood. “Every day there’s another little milestone,” he says. “Jenny’s already started smiling and laughing. Now, I guess, there will be the first time she rolls over by herself, the first time she talks, the first time she walks…all those things. Parents celebrate each and every one.”

“I very much look forward to the time—without wanting any of this to hurry up—when she’ll be like a little pal…when we can actually hold hands and go off to the park together. That must be a wonderful time…when [your child is] two or two-and-a-half years old and the world is opening up to them.”

“I’ll teach her things. We’ll mutually discover new things together. I look forward to learning from Jenny as much as teaching her.”

In a pre-baby interview, Shaughnessy confessed he was hoping for a daughter and, of course, he got his wish. Has the experience turned out to be everything he imagined it would be?

“Oh yes!” he responds with no uncertainty. “Little girls are such completely different creatures than little boys. Little girls make me laugh. They’re so much more mature than boys. They start forming very distinct personalities and character traits at such an early age.”

And Jenny Johanna Shaughessy certainly has two very distinct names to live up to. She was named after both the immigrant matriarchs in her parents’ families—Susan’s grandmother, Jenny, and Shaughnessy’s great-great-great grandmother Johanna, both of whom left their own country to come to America.

While parenthood is usually an invitation for most mothers and fathers to purchase everything in sight for the new addition to the family, Shaughnessy and his wife haven’t fallen into that trap—although it’s been through no fault of their own. They received practically everything a new parent needs for a baby before, during and after Jenny’s birth!

“The response from the fans alone has been unbelievable. A bunch of them held a baby shower in Pennsylvania. I didn’t know anything about this beforehand. They invited other fans to send things in for it and then parceled it all out to us. These huge UPS freights arrived (at the studio for me) with everything you could possibly imagine in them—hand-knit outfits and booties, strollers, bassinets, teddy bears…you name it! We’ve really been overwhelmed.”

“I wrote a letter and sent it to all the fans saying we really appreciated all the gifts they’d been sending, but to please save their money,” he explains. “A card would suffice. We would appreciate that. But they won’t be deterred,’ he insists. “Every day another outfit arrives. And they’re not all in baby sizes either. Some are for a lot older. We have lots of things on separate hangers in the closet that I guess Jenny will be wearing until she’s 4 or 5. I just hope we’re going to get through it all.”

The ever-gracious Shaughnessy would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone out there for their kindness.

“I’d like to thank the fans for all their concern, best wishes, cards and thoughts. I really do appreciate the care that they’ve shown me and my family. They’ve done a lot. It’s very warming. Even though they’re special people I don’t know personally, there’s that much more love coming in. It’s very nice,” he says softly.


Charles Shaughnessy blogs "Thank you Kansas City!"

“It’s Good to be Home”

No matter how enjoyable an “out-of-town” gig might be, it is ALWAYS good to get home. That said, my experience in “Game Show” at The New Theatre Restaurant could not have been better. I want to thank all the wonderful people at NTR led by their extraordinary Executive Producer / Founders, Dennis Hennessy and Richard Carrothers. From the heads of Dept. through the stage managers and stage crew to the attentive and enthusiastic wait-staff, the whole enterprise hummed with the energetic efficiency of a well-oiled machine. It is no surprise to me that it represents one of the most consistently popular and financially successful theatres in the country. I also revelled in a talented and welcoming cast that made my time, onstage and off, fun and exciting. To all of you who came to see me in the show, “thank you” and I hope it was as good for you as it was for me! I am home now and happy to be back in the bosom of my family, but  I will always have very fond memories of Kansas City: the Barbecue, the Chiefs, the Mighty Mo, the Christmas lights on the Plaza, the mid-west hospitality and the good folks at The New Theatre Restaurant.

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Charles Shaughnessy Blog "Life, Art and the Cosmos!"

A lot of you have wondered about my religious beliefs. As we are starting a new year, I thought I would post my first blog of 2012 to address this…a bit. To start with, I should tell you that I adhere to none of the established or more common “religions.” I put that word in quotes because I do agree that we are all searching for a way to “tie back” to a state of universal consciousness that many might call GOD. It’s the idea that God can be anthropomorphized that causes me trouble. The notion that what is indeed “Everything/Nothing,” the Alpha and the Omega, can take sides, get angry, be nice, talk through a bush or a snake, interact with us, as if it were anything separate from us, seems to me to be a bit absurd. I respect the right of anyone to follow whatever belief they choose, to help them feel re-connected to that state of pre-lapsarian innocence that we all crave as human beings…so long as they don’t insist that their particular belief system is either the only one or the best one! That’s why Newt’s attempt to foist “Freedom of Religion” legislation on us is such an abomination: it basically states that freedom of religion is long as it’s Christian! There are only two ways that I see religion as important in my life: one, to guide me as to my conduct on this earth; two, to give me a sense of order and comfort when faced with the unknowable and unfathomable concepts of infinity, life, death and the meaning of existence. The first is easy. I believe in Ethics and it’s vital role in the progress of society and human behavior. Morality is what has led us astray, as it is always going to be relative. One man’s freedom fighter, martyr or saint is another man’s terrorist, criminal and murderer. Christ, along with all the great teachers in history, taught ethics: how to behave toward each other so that our human condition be less intolerable. Love, charity, compassion, generosity of spirit and body, diligence, responsibility, courage..but above all…Love.
As for the second… here’s how I would best describe it.

If “GOD” is a manageable way of describing the infinite properties of “everythingness,” then there can be nothing that is not GOD. Further, there is nothing that is not something i.e. GOD. Therefore there is no “nothing” to juxtapose with “everything.” That is why we have discovered that the vast “emptiness” of space is not made up of “nothing”, but rather -”Dark Matter.” This describes the invisible matter that is juxtaposed to what we can identify as matter. In other words there is no “outside of the box.”
To wrap one’s head around this concept, one has to resort to metaphor or imagery, utilizing concepts and references that make sense to our limited brains. I like to see this “everything” as an infinite wad of chewing gum. There is no beginning or end to it either in time or space. To become part of “existence”, a small piece of this gum is pulled from the whole and stretched into our dimension. We live our lifespan, absorbing experience in this realm, but always attached by a thin thread to the whole wad. Thus, while living a solitary life in this dimension, we are at all time connected to everyone and everything else that has and ever will exist in the “whole wad.” This is our connection to GOD. This is why we occasionally experience sudden insights, premonitions, unrelated memories etc. We are literally “all one.” The latin word “religo – religere” from which our word “religion” comes, means “to tie back.” Through religion we, these lonely pieces of gum, are attempting to find a re-connection to that “ whole wad” of gum, to our innate sense of the infinite and our longing to belong to the whole of existence.

So this may indeed signify my crack at understanding the “What” of it all, but it does little to address the “Why?” For that I turn to an episode of the creaky old TV sci-fi series: Babylon5. ( to be continued…)

additional reply comment from Charles Shaughnessy to Miss JoAnn on 14 January, 2012 11:27 

additional reply comment from Charles Shaughnessy to Heather on 14 January, 2012 11:32