Happy Birthday, Maxwell Kent

Written almost three years ago, but still an appropriate homage to Max, a very special boy {excuse me, young man – 15 already?!} in my life!

I went to bed last Tuesday night, expecting the following day to go one way, only to wake up to a completely readjusted schedule. I had planned to take a loved one for a surgical procedure in the morning and then attend the semester’s first night of on-campus class that evening. Due to the snow, both events were canceled. Sometimes, life just has that remarkable way of working out. This change in schedule allowed for playing in the snow with the girls during the day, followed by the opportunity to be at home in the evening when Max arrived, to celebrate his twelfth birthday.

I have known Max for the majority of his life. I was present for his very first birthday, and have now spent the last six birthdays celebrating both the little boy he once was, and the young man he has more recently become.

Max has always been a very handsome boy, but his tender and loving heart is what sets him apart from the rest. I will never forget the first time I fell asleep with him cuddled up in my arms or how special I felt the first time he told me he loved me, giving me a beautiful hand drawn picture that I still have.

I imagine it must be difficult to have divorced parents. I know I have not always been the best at my step-mom role, but I have always tried hard and had the best intentions in mind. I’m thankful to both of Max’s parents for my opportunity to love, learn from, and grow with, their son. I remember my mom telling me on several occasions that there is not a manual that comes with new parents, teaching them how to successfully raise that particular child. Unfortunately, there is not a manual for step-parents, either (although there are a million people with a variety of opinions). Generally, you just do the best you can and hope that is good enough.

I have always been lucky to have Max, and his sister, Maci, in my life. We have done some incredible things together, making memories that I hope they will take with them into their adult lives.

We were all laughing the other day about our Wisconsin ski trip about six years ago. It was a complete disaster, from Max with an unstoppable nosebleed in the middle of the bunny hill to Maci flying down the same hill, somehow stopping gracefully at the bottom to catch herself on a picnic table that we were sure she was going to crash into.

More recently, we flew to Fort Myers Beach, Florida. We stayed right on the beach, went parasailing, and caught hundreds of live sand dollars. To highlight a few of my other favorite trips: We have canoed down Sugar Creek in Indiana, camped at Indiana beach, and stayed in St. Louis to watch the Cardinals play baseball. We have gone to concerts, taken the train to Chicago to the Shedd Aquarium – stopping to watch Frozen on Ice, and we spent a weekend for my last birthday in a cabin near Starved Rock. Closer to home, we have spent numerous times playing at Weldon Springs catching wooly worms, paddle-boating, going fishing, having cookouts, finding four-leaf clovers and watching the hummingbirds.

As a family, we have also stayed home and enjoyed the pleasure of each other’s company, spending quality time together doing nothing but just that. Our memories together are countless, and I know they will not remember them all, but I hope that at least one sticks out to each of them and they will forever hold it in a special place in their hearts.

So, to Max on his twelfth birthday:

Happy birthday, buddy. It has been a remarkable journey together so far. I have enjoyed watching you grow each year. I apologize for my shortcomings, but I have never had anything but love for you. I don’t say it enough, but I am very proud of you. You are the best big (and little) brother, you are a dedicated friend and athlete, you are an outstanding student and a loving son (and step-son). I hope this year brings you many new memories and experiences, but allows you to remember the old. Thank you for sharing your life with me, the good and the bad.

“I didn’t give you the gift of life, life gave me the gift of you.” – anonymous

© 2019 Lauren Johnson; http://livingthroughherlegacy.com

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