Carrie Underwood sang these words (to me) and captured my attention today as I rode the bus this morning on my way to our new work office (finally) in downtown Chicago. I thought of Max. I missed Max. But I am so glad that his parents are back in town now because we both missed them soooooo much!!
Actually that’s a perfect segue into what I want to say first. Max’s parents, my dear friends, Michelle & Bayard, truly deserve an A*MAY*ZING. Max is the well-mannered, kind-hearted, adventure-seeking, lovable little boy because of his parents have done such a remarkable job of raising him. I’ve told them both this and will continue to do so, and my hope is that they really do believe me. I feel blessed to have all three of them in my life and so grateful that Michelle & Bayard trusted me enough to look after Max this weekend. They are most certainly family to me, now more than ever. Seriously, Michelle & Bayard, and little Max too, thank you for welcoming me into your family! Love you all!
Now, let me officially declare my love for little Max. While this weekend was a rarity for the Single Girl in the City (aka Yours Truly), I worry that words will not accurately express how special this weekend was for me. So please be aware that as I type this post, I have a huge smile on my face and a heart filled with gratitude for this experience.
Yesterday, on my final morning with Max, I called my mom and the first words out of my mouth were, “Okay, so you may very well get those grandchildren you’ve always hoped for.” While all my friends (especially those with kids) joke that this was ‘the best form of birth control’, I must admit that it’s only temporary as I realize that I’m just not ready…yet. For now I truly believe that my place is to continue my volunteer work and be in my friends’ kids lives. Who the heck knows what my future holds, but for the first time in my life I really do believe that (my own) children could be a part of it.
This weekend with Max really was incredible, filled with smiles, laughs, hugs & kisses, and lots of running around. I loved every moment of it! This was certainly one of those precious times in life when one finds himself/herself perfectly content with where he/she is. I felt like I was where I needed to be and, honestly, where I wanted to be too. While we had our share of fun these last few days, my favorite moments with Max were when he let out that cry every morning that translated into “Kristen, I’m awake. Come get me. It’s time to play (and eat) again!” And play we most certainly did. With the help of Max’s other girlfriends- Sadie, Stef, Dina, and Lonni- we found ourselves playing A LOT this weekend.
We kept things simple on Friday, staying in other than a quick trip over to see Dina at the MAW staff for some ball playing. Now staying in with Max means that we played a lot of soccer, ventured around many condo floors, watched many episodes of Mickey’s Clubhouse, and ate (literally) tons of food. Now if that’s not the perfect Friday date, then I don’t know what is?
However, Saturday was a completely different story as Max and I found ourselves venturing off to the suburbs to volunteer for Make-A-Wish with Dina and our new friend (another girlfriend of Max), Lonni. Yes, Max was the Make-A-Wish mascot and hands-down the best looking, most irresistible boy there!! Seriously, how adorable does he look in this tee-shirt?! And while he certainly did his fair share of running around, I have to say that Max behaved himself quite nicely. (Note: He is NOT drinking from that Coca Cola bottle in the photo. He was just playing with it.)
I have to take the time here to thank Dina & Lonni for playing with us on Saturday. Max was sooooo happy to flirt with 🙂 and I am so appreciative for their kindness in entertaining my little boo.
After a playdate on Saturday afternoon for Max with his girlfriend, Sadie, and my own lady date with Lonni and Dina, I headed back to prepare of our slumber party with Stef. Max was so happy to see his other girlfriend, Stef, and even welcomed her by showing off his Mickey Mouse balloon. When the exhausted little man went to bed, Stef and I continued our catch-up session with girl talk and a mini-Keeping Up with The Kardashians marathon(because we can).
Sunday finally came and we were ready to take Max out on a special date: To Shedd Aquarium. Stef & I were so excited to take him and enjoy quality time with our little boo in one of the best places in Chicago. Waiting in line outside worried me a bit but Max found it as a(nother) opportunity to play, forcing me to chase him around in circles. (He’s a man of routine.)
We finally made our way into the aquarium and Max began enjoyed all of the fishies and sea creatures. We roamed around exploring the different sections, finally making our way to the sea otters and dolphin areas. (Note: I could sit by that dolphin tank all day writing, and one day plan to. It’s so peaceful.)
Finally we found the penguins (!) and Max LOVED playing in the little play area- riding the slide and climbing through the tunnel. Although, he sadly wouldn’t humor me by wearing the penguin outfit. (Michelle, I tried just for you!) Upon making our way upstairs for the dolphin show, Max got to ride in an elevator (Note: He loves elevators!) with a penguin!
Max enjoyed the dolphin show- and climbing up and down the 2-3 stairs in the aisle- but he was definitely getting tired. Yep, Nap Time! Max passed out in the stroller as we trekked back home for a quiet evening in…before Dad got home! Max and I enjoyed our final date night (at least for now) by simultaneously watching Mickey Mouse (on my laptop) and The Oscars (TV). He loved clapping along with the audience (!), but was not as happy when his bedtime rolled around. Neither was I to lose my cuddle buddy; however, I got a surprise at 4 am when Max woke up. I know he just wanted to make the best of our remaining time together. Right, Max? I cuddled with my boo as he watched Mickey on my laptop and I did my best to stay awake. Fortunately, Bayard (Max’s dad) got home late that night and came to collect his little cub after hearing us around 6 am. (Thanks again, Bayard. I love your son tons but that extra sleep was certainly needed.)
Monday, Monday. I made the Best. Decision. Ever. to take the day off and spend it with Max. After having morning playdate with his dad, Max and I got ready to spend the day with our friend, Sadie. The Wonderful Sadie who gave me a few hours of freedom to get myself showered and out of the sweats and run a few errands. I missed Max but it was nice to remind myself of the actual Single Girl in Chicago lifestyle that I lead.
After his nap, Sadie & I gathered up our boyfriend to meet Stef for a trip to… The Disney Store!! We all had so much fun, but not as much as Max. He literally ran around for an hour grabbing every stuffed Disney characters and bouncing ball within his reach. He couldn’t have been any cuter, and truthfully, he was very well-behaved as a 1.5 year old could be in his version of a candy store.
Eventually we had to burst Max’s bubble and head back home to prepare for the return of his parents. I was so excited for this family’s reunion, as I know his parents missed him as much as he missed them. This is truly a beautiful family- inside & out- and I am honored to know them.
Between you and me, everything is different now: From the moment my alarm goes off in the morning to the second I finally fall asleep at night. Max changed me. He opened my eyes to a new life in this big, bustling, windy city. He’s calmed my world down; helped me focus more on the little things; and encouraged me to take more time for myself. He has also inspired me to Be the Best Version of Myself that I Can Be, so that if I do become a mother (one day far, far away) that I Will Be Ready. And until that fate, if it does happen, then I’ll play the roles that God’s granted upon me: Daughter, Sister, Relative, Friend, Volunteer, Leader, Max’s Girlfriend (lol), and Supporter to All of the Kids & Families I find myself working with.
This post is dedicated to The Elfvin Family: Thank you, Max, Michelle & Bayard for this unbelievable experience and letting me be a part of your lives.