By Carol Radin | Photography by Mary Grace Johnson
Melissa Incassati doesn’t take her commitments lightly. It’s how she advanced from bank teller to bank management, and why she is a devoted wife, mother of three boys and loyal friend.
“You have to think in the moment,” Melissa said, “but you have to think ahead, too.”
With one eye on the long-term vision, she sees herself on a bench swing on a big front porch, she said. At work, she supervises 15 branches and 100 employees; but when she’s home, Melissa is on that metaphorical swing, slowing life down to share the simple pleasures with her family.
Balancing those roles might seem to be a challenge for a couple with full-time jobs and three boys, ages 10, 8 and eight months, but Melissa and her husband, Tony, seem to have it figured out.
“It isn’t structured,” Melissa said. “Whenever one of the kids needs something, whoever gets there first does it. Whoever is home first starts dinner. People say, ‘Who wears the pants?’ We both have a leg in those pants.”
Melissa’s two older sons are willing members of the team. They help to clean the house and take responsibility for their personal belongings and homework. Since Melissa’s husband became a certified life coach, the boys have followed their parents’ lead on healthy eating and wellness practices. The parents limit their children’s time on electronic devices, opting instead to play board games, card games, color or sew.
Eight months ago, the birth of their third son added a new dimension to the family.
“The baby made everyone in the family a little bit better,” Melissa said.
Her two eldest sons were included in the preparations even before the birth. They were excited at the prospect of being big brothers, she remembered.
“It was a family pregnancy,” Melissa said proudly, adding she was surprised by the strong opinions her sons held about potential names and nursery colors.
Even with a new member of the family, Melissa has been able to keep up with her older sons. She still picks them up from school twice a week. It’s their time to be a trio, chattering away and singing Taylor Swift songs in the car. The boys take karate lessons twice a week, and in the summer, they all play in their backyard pool.
“My family likes to be at home,” Melissa said, adding that their favorite activity together is family movie night every week. “We all sit together on our sectional — the baby’s with us, too — and we eat ice cream or snacks.”
Melissa makes sure, though, that her home life isn’t just about the kids, and that she and her husband have time every day to get back to each other. Whether he’s warming up her car in the morning or offering his shoulder at the end of a long day, Tony is “the most amazing person in the world,” Melissa said.
“I find a reason to thank him for some little thing every day,” she said.
Melissa traces her commitment to family to past experiences of both love and loss.
When she was 25, Melissa lost her mother to cancer. Tony lost his father when he was 15. Melissa has one sister, but her mother was an only child, which meant no aunts, uncles and cousins for Melissa on that side of her family.
“Growing up, my friends were my family,” she said, adding that her best friend today has been her best friend for 25 years.
Melissa and Tony both grew up on Syracuse’s Northside, and their families are still local. Both her father and Tony’s mother live close by. Their support makes life much easier, Melissa said. Being able to depend on them is a relief, she explained.
When asked about her personal goals, Melissa didn’t refer to her career, demanding as it is, but to her family.
“I want to maintain a close relationship with my kids,” she said. “I want them to know that I am there for them no matter what they go through.”
And her goals for her children? They are goals she strides to model herself.
“To be kind to others, to be a good friend,” Melissa said. “I want them to fill other people’s buckets.” SWM