Monday, August 27, 2012

Many of you are aware, at this point, of the accident that some friends of mine from home had a son involved in.  Jeremiah King was hit by a car while outside with his family and ended up at Carle Hospital in Champaign in a coma.  Unfortunately, this isn't the first time I can say that I've known someone in this exact situation.  Even more unfortunate is that Jeremiah is one of three separate people I've known going through this.  This time around, though, was even more tough for me now that I have a child of my own.  Watching a news clip that showed a shot of Mike holding his daughter who was in tears, and hearing the quiver in his voice as he spoke of his gratitude for the friends, family, and strangers supporting them...not to mention all the posts in the "Team Jeremiah" group on Facebook...well, let's just say that I've been hard-pressed to get through with dry eyes.

Before becoming a mother, watching other parents would result in me either putting them on a pedestal or filing away situations and tactics that I would never want to be in or use when it was my turn.  I compared myself, my thoughts, and my methods to everyone else and was determined that I was going to be the ideal parent.

As it turns out, becoming a parent has been incredibly humbling.  There are days when I have felt like I'm an amazing mom and couldn't have done a better job.  There are other days that I have felt like I have no right holding the responsibility for another life in my hands.  However, it wasn't until recently (like a couple days ago) that I came to the realization that, regardless of the day or situation, Adam and I are the best and perfect parents for Maxwell.  Probably not coincidentally (though it seemed that way, at the time), this was also echoed to me by a good friend that's since moved away while we chatted on Facebook.  Thanks Bethany :). In hindsight, I believe that this was something God has been trying to tell me and convince me of, but stubborn as I am, it took a while (but thankfully only four months) to get to this point.

Without belaboring the point, I think God puts babies into certain families because the person he wants them to become depends on it.  He knows our hearts and knows that we are the perfect parents for that child.  As long as we pray about them and are certain that the choices we make are right for our family, nobody else's thoughts or opinions should matter or sway us, otherwise.  God gave us Maxwell, and any siblings he will have, because He has a plan for them (and us) and we are an integral part of that.

It's in the moments that creep in that whisper to me how much better I could be doing that I try to remember that nobody's perfect.  I remember that God doesn't believe that.  He knows we all stumble and that as alone as I sometimes feel, I'm not the first person to feel any of those feelings.  He's shown me that, even when I am physically alone, a deep breath and a prayer can help me get through.  And with each smile and laugh Maxwell makes, I remember how blessed I am and how loved I am.  With the cries, I remember that I'm needed.  And when I need a break and hand him off to Adam, I remember that God gave me Adam, and Max his daddy, for that that I don't HAVE to do it alone.

 Watching the Kings parent not only Jeremiah, but loving on the others and setting aside themselves for their family in this trying time has been an inspiration for me.  I've also realized how much impact one child can have on everyone around him without ever realizing it.  I've come to see that Max isn't just a gift for us, but for all those that surround us, too.  I've done my best to share him with others around us so that he can bless them as Jeremiah has all of us.  I want to know that, if anything did happen to him, that he'd share the love and support that Jeremiah has, and that even if nothing bad ever comes his way, that we've done everything we can to help him be the blessing that God intended him to be.

So, now my plan isn't to be the best mom in the world...but rather the best one in Max's.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I am rather excited, this morning, as I have found a solution for a long standing problem that has caused us all much grief.  

Maxwell seems to get hot "easily."  Easily is a relative term, since we live in the desert, however, when he gets hot...he is NOT happy.  We realized that this was, indeed, the problem when holding him in front of the swamp cooler or fan quickly remedied the situation and stopped his crying.

However, this situation is not so easily remedied in the car.  His back would get so warm against his car seat, even with the air conditioner full blast, that he'd scream and wail until he either fell asleep or we took him out.  For a while, I was using ice packs under the extra padding you put in to support their head.  That seemed to work well, but it didn't seem very comfortable.  Especially once he got bigger, he'd sometimes arch his back to get away from the ice pack.  I can't imagine that it's because he wasn't hot, but I also can't imagine that it felt that great to sit up against.  He's also growing so tall/big/fast that I had to take the padding out.  I definitely didn't want the ice pack right up against him, and it seemed like it would be even MORE uncomfortable without the extra layer buffering the "bump" caused by the ice pack.

I've been brainstorming and scouring the web for solutions.  The best that I could find (other than the icepack behind the support padding) was getting these blanket type pads that you freeze to put over the seat while they're NOT in it to keep the car seat cool while you're NOT in the car.  That's all well and good...and very well may come in handy in the future...but since we bring him wherever we are IN his car seat, it's not in the car long enough to need that.

While searching for something else, this morning, I opened the cupboard to discover one of these: 

These are wine gift bags that you put in the freezer to keep the wine cold while you travel.  I got one in a giveaway at an Officers' Spouses' event that I went to last year, but had yet to use it.  

A lightbulb went on, and I quickly realized that THIS was my solution!  A few snips later, the bag above looked a little something like this:

The next step was to figure out if and how this would fit into his car seat.  Once I cut some slits in the middle "empty" section, I was able to position the mat behind the car seat padding against the styrofoam.  Here's how: 

I also reinforced the slits with some package wrapping tape so that they didn't end up tearing through the middle.  

So, voila!  A cooling mat for Max's car seat that he won't even notice is there (other than being pleasantly cool while the rest of us are still sweating our butts off :)).

(Yes, I am pretty proud of myself :)).

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I think it's fair, at this point, to say that I've totally slacked off on keeping this blog updated.  There are several reasons for that, but the most obvious of them would be that I've devoted any time that I would have spent writing in here to one of two things: 1. Maxwell.  2. Anything else that I didn't get done because I was spending time with him.  Hopefully also obvious is the fact that I'm not at all bothered by the journal being pushed to the wayside.  Frankly, I've had little to no motivation to write much in here, anyway, so it hasn't been at the forefront of my mind.

In any case, I figured I'd take a few moments just to put some thoughts down and to answer the most frequently asked question since Max joined our family: "So, how are you liking being a mom?"  I find it difficult to sum up an answer to such a broad question in a short enough answer that still accurately depicts my feelings...however, more often than not, the people asking that aren't prepared for a long, drawn out answer.  Therefore, my answer is usually something to the effect of, "It's been good." I then proceed to overanalyze how the response came off, fearing that I sounded too lackluster or that they expected a better answer.  I fear coming off sounding like I don't enjoy motherhood or that I should've been more enthusiastic about it than I was.  I'm sure all of these are fairly irrational thoughts and probably far from the minds of those I assume are thinking them.  Regardless, they have crossed my mind more than once.

The truth is, motherhood is pretty much what I expected it to be.  I've spent most of my life around, if not caring for, children to one extent or another.  Granted, I've never had constant 24 hour exposure to childcare, nor had sole responsibility for the well being of a baby for the majority of his waking (and sleeping) hours.  However, through those experiences, I pretty much had a good idea of what I was getting myself into.  It has been a very natural transition for me, but a thoroughly enjoyable one.

One thing I did not expect, though, was how devoted I would feel towards my son.  It has been almost four months, and other than a quick run and a walk or two, I have yet to leave my son anywhere (and even those times, he was with his dad).  I could give (and have) any number of excuses for why this is true, but the real reason is that I just haven't been ready to leave him.  I want to be there for him and I don't want to miss anything.  (Coincidentally, this is one trait of mine that has apparently been passed on to him, as he rarely sleeps long during the day :)).  I hear that this eventually wears off, and that you learn to cherish the moments that you do get to yourself away from your children.  I'm not there, yet.  I love watching him learn things and develop.  I look forward to all the upcoming milestones, as big or small as they seem to anyone else.  Even in the times when he's fussy or discontent, figuring out what he needs and making it better for him is, in itself, satisfying and rewarding.   I love that he needs me, and I love that I'm able to make such a positive impact on his life.  It's so hard for me to grasp how in awe of me he seems to be, sometimes.  I feel so undeserving of that kind of enamor, but there is nothing better than seeing his face light up.  

So if all of this is the case, then why, you wonder, have I not felt any urge to write about it sooner?  My answer is that I have been very conservative about what I have felt like sharing in such a public forum.  I have been equally careful about what I share and with whom I share it in person, too.  I know that Adam and I are doing our best making what we feel are the best decisions for our family, and I don't want any reason to second guess that.  I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that some of our choices would be considered unorthodox and untraditional...and they, frankly, probably are.  However, we are doing what works for us and what makes the most sense for our family, and I don't want to feel like I need to defend that.  Therefore, I'm not trying to be secretive or isolated, but I have had less of a presence on Facebook than I did in the past in an effort to avoid being met with frustration.  

In addition to that, I have done my best to keep any negativity out of anything that I do post.  While this has been good for me in that it helps me to keep a positive mindset, it has also been hard, at times.  There have been moments that I have been met with the inevitable trials of motherhood that I have struggled with where to turn to for support.  I have feared the criticism, unwanted advice, and judgement that might be brought about by sharing any of the stumbles that I've come across.  I know that there are countless people that would combat this statement by telling me that I can tell them anything and that I should never feel like I can't talk to them about something.  However, I have been very selective about the people that I actually have shared with.  Even though the people I've let my guard down to have been very supportive, and more often than not have been through the same things and have had the same feelings, I am more than likely going to stick to being selective.  It has been a huge blessing to be able to have this support system, and I am equally grateful for those of you who have offered...even if I haven't yet taken you up on it.  I have learned, however, that there is something to be said for the face to face conversations, phone calls, and the deep, candid, and unsensored conversations that can't be had via Facebook.  Even now, I'm wondering if I will publish this journal entry...and if so...if I'll advertise that I have.  

Long story short, I love being a mom in the most complex way possible.  If you're a mom, you know where I'm coming from and what I mean by that.  It has been a much more natural, easier transition than I could have imagined.  It has also, in some ways, been one of the hardest.  Regardless, I wouldn't go back, if I could.  This has been the biggest blessing I could imagine.  It is who I am, who I was always meant to be, and who I will be for the rest of my life, and I am so grateful that I can finally be called a mom.