Book review: Instant Mom

I’ll admit it, I get a little excited about celebrity babies. Babies are just exciting! I love reading about who just became a parent and thinking about their new lives of snuggles and spit-up. A couple years ago, I was very excited to read the adoption announcement of Nia Verdalos, screenwriter and actress in “My Big, Fat Greek Wedding.” Though it is not necessarily unique for a celebrity to adopt, it was unique that Verdalos and her husband, Ian Gomez, pursued adoption through the foster care system. They kept their family details private at first, but last year Verdalos released a book telling the story of their adoption.

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Instant Mom describes the years of failed infertility treatments and adoption processes. It is real life and is told with Verdalos’ signature humor, though much of the subject matter is emotional and personal. She describes the moment she saw her daughter for the first time.

As we get out of the car, we see a little brown-haired girl in a social worker’s arms. And as we walk toward the group, the little girl turns and looks at me.
At me.
And she smiles.
Everything goes quiet. I hear nothing at all.
All I think is, “Oh, I found you.”
Because now I know who I have been waiting for. I know exactly why the other processes didn’t work. I know I was supposed to wait for this little girl.

Anyone who has seen her movies knows she is a funny writer, but such a personal story of infertility and adoption is no laughing matter.

The fear of the unknown can be a powerful deterrent from anyone adopting… I had fears, too, and it’s one of the many reasons I want to tell this story. When it came to adoption, I’d read the bad stories, too. As I told you, I was scared. As was my family.

She reveals that accurate information helped alleviate some of the fears, and she has an excellent guide in the back of the book with basic information on types of adoption.

As an adoptive mom myself, I thought this book was outstanding at expressing a realistic picture of the emotional side of adoption. She doesn’t sugar-coat things; she describes the first difficult transitional months that come with bringing a child into your family. But she also describes the appreciation of small steps and the discovery of safety and comfort.
Any mom would enjoy reading this book. It makes you laugh and cry and hug your kids.

Nothing prepared me for the love I would feel for my child. Nothing prepared me for how quickly it happened for me. And here’s what I just figured out now: no one is ever prepared. In a way, we’re all instant moms… Nothing prepared us for the daunting responsibility and love we feel for our children. All of us are instant parents trying to rise to the challenge of raising our children well. It is so daunting. And unfathomably wonderful.

Instant Mom

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The motive to move: What being close to family looks like for us

We had one reason for making the move from Austin back to Kansas – being closer to family. And y’all were thinking it was for the weather, I’m sure. We didn’t have a specific image of what the closer proximity would entail, but we have been so thankful for what it has looked like so far.

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Sister dates! From cooking class to meeting Cary Elwes, from musicals to “late night” dollar store runs, I love the extra time with my sister!

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Extra help! This has been huge as we had a short timeframe between moving and baby arrival. We had a ton of family help our first weekend in the house as we unpacked and tackled a few bigger projects. Then my parents painted the nursery as I had a nesting attack and we hadn’t found a painter yet.

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Then, when we finally got the house painted, my parents took the girls (and me for part of the time) so we could be out of the fumes and mess. There was music and dancing and alpacas and Winnie the Pooh and all kinds of other fun.

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My father-in-law and brother-in-law assembled the new stroller over Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law did landscaping. My sister-in-law did my dishes. (I was born into a handy family, and I married into a handy family; if something doesn’t get done around our house, it’s not for lack of helpful people) My in-laws are about 3 1/2 hours away, so we’ll be able to visit them every few months. And we’ve hosted some impromptu Christmas cousin tea time:

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Welcome! New baby Cora got to meet all her grandparents and all our siblings within three weeks of being born.

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It worked out well that my brother from Dallas had a trip planned already and was able to make early introductions.

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Quality time! We moved close to family for more of the little moments. Like watching silly videos on the iPad.

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Or bigger adventures like burning off some wiggles at a trampoline land.

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And did I mention the free babysitting? ;) We are thankful for the opportunity to make this move, and we think this will be really wonderful for our kids (and us). It’s been great so far!

The crunchy scale: It’s not easy being gray

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I’m not a big fan of labels. We pretty much just go through life doing what we think is best for our family with the Bible as the primary resource and other sources that align with our convictions. When it comes to labels, I’m not sure where our family fits in.

Especially on the crunchy scale.

Urban dictionary defines crunchy as: Adjective. Used to describe persons who have adjusted or altered their lifestyle for environmental reasons. Crunchy persons tend to be politically strongly left-leaning and may be additionally but not exclusively categorized as vegetarians, vegans, eco-tarians, conservationists, environmentalists, neo-hippies, tree huggers, nature enthusiasts, etc. The term seems to also include parenting philosophies and many health issues.

A lot of those things would not apply to us, certainly not politically, but in our ten years of marriage, we’ve developed a lifestyle that has some differences from the average: mainly whole foods diet, smaller portions of meat, seeing midwives in my pregnancies, using a doula, extended breastfeeding, avoiding certain products, to name a few. We’ve gotten comments for these choices such as “Loosen up a bit.” “That’s a little weird.” “You’re a couple of hippies.” Some people consider us very crunchy. We’re trying too hard, we’re overly concerned about things that aren’t important, we’re making our lives difficult. We don’t fit in with the standard American lifestyle.

But we also use disposable diapers, vaccinate, use a microwave, eat at Chick-fil-a and have our kids sleep in their own beds. So a whole bunch of other people try to make us feel like we’re not crunchy enough. We’re not trying hard enough, we don’t care about our children’s health, we are ignorant and unaware. We don’t fit in.

I know this is not a unique problem. There are lots of families like ours – the gray families who are being told to choose black or white. Or rather, black or green. (and I do find it a little interesting that many on a certain side of the scale preach a lot of peace and tolerance but don’t seem to show much toward others) We’re in the middle of the crunchy scale, and when you walk in the middle of the road you get hit by cars going both ways.

Perhaps this can be answered with phrases such as “Just be yourself.” or “It doesn’t matter what other people think.” But I’d like the offer the phrase Gray is okay. Sure, there are certainly areas of life where a committed hard line needs to be taken one way or the other. And apathy and wishy-washiness are not admirable qualities. But there are a lot of areas, crunchiness being one of them, where I don’t think a side needs to be taken. Gray is okay. I can compost but also give my kids Tylenol, and I don’t like anyone giving me crap for either.