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In My Own Words

Thankful now and always

Jacqueline Fennington
MSN Class of 2010

(Nov 2011) I never like to jump ahead and rush things, but once Halloween comes and goes, the only topic of conversation is the next few holidays. By the time New Year’s is over, it feels like everything hit us all at once – the five pounds of candy, the three servings of turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes and the repetitive Christmas carols. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am reminded of all that I am thankful for and encourage others to take a minute to thank the Big Man Above for the many blessings that fill our days.

Accept and be thankful for a helping hand

When my daughter Lucy was born just six weeks ago, I was overcome with this powerful feeling of responsibility. Of course it would be alarming if I did not feel responsible! But just knowing that I am responsible for another life is an overwhelming concept. Luckily, I can split this responsibility with my other half.

Though I knew Sean was there to take on these responsibilities with me, I initially felt like I had to be able to do everything by myself. I don’t know why I felt this way, but I had the idea in my head that mothers should be able to do it all. I guess I have heard of so many mothers "doing it all" themselves without the help of a husband or family, so I felt like it was expected to be supermom.

My biggest fear of returning home from the hospital was attempting Lucy’s first bath. I was determined that it was impossible to give a baby a sponge bath with only two hands. How was I supposed to hold her in one arm and bathe her entire body with the other hand all while sufficiently supporting her wobbly neck and keeping her from squirming? Impossible!

I did not even attempt the sponge bath solo. Sean held her squirming body and supported her head while I washed her. That’s right, it took four hands. Six if you count the photographer (my anxious and excited friend) documenting every moment of Lucy’s life. Sean was the more experienced parent in the bathing scene because he watched the nurses give Lucy her first bath at the hospital. Thankfully one of us knew what we were doing!

When we graduated from the sponge bath to a baby bathtub, the both of us had no idea what to do. Let’s just say both Sean and I had to change our clothes afterwards because of the amount of water everywhere. The next day my mom called, checking in on the new parents as usual, and I told her about our epic bath scene of water and soap going everywhere except on Baby Lucy. She gave me a few motherly how-to tips to help our bathing experience. Now we are both pros at bathing! I can even do it by myself with only two hands (and with Sean’s supervision in case of disaster).

The bath situation is only one example of how thankful I am for others’ help. We should all be thankful for each other and the human nature to help one another. This holiday, and always, be mindful of how we can help others and embrace others’ help. Shovel a neighbor’s driveway when it snows or make a dinner dish for someone who is particularly busy. Whatever it may be, embrace the help or offer it with a smiling face.

Enjoy every second of every day

It is a proven fact that time goes by too fast. There is nothing we can do to change that. Rather than harping on the fact that we never have enough time, we should embrace the time we have, be thankful for it and be careful to not overload ourselves with too many tasks.

During the first two weeks of parenthood, I never even knew what day it was let alone the time of day. It didn’t matter if it was day or night because Lucy was eating every other hour and sleeping for small increments in between. Simple everyday tasks like getting a shower, brushing my teeth and feeding myself seemed like a waste of the precious time I had to get some sleep. Life is a little more normal now, but I still wonder where the day went when 5:00 rolls around.

Everything is all about timing for me. With Lucy, I am constantly thinking about schedules, routines and timing. Feeding every few hours on the dot, sleeping for X amount of hours, which never exceeds 5, spending 20 minutes lulling her to sleep and then letting her cry herself to sleep for another 10 minutes at a time before running in to comfort her. I always thought 10 minutes was a long time to let a baby cry for, but once I let Lucy cry herself to sleep I realized how fast 10 minutes goes by. I also realized how fast sleep goes by!

Even if we do not accomplish everything we want to in a given day, it is important to appreciate the time we are given and enjoy time for what it is worth. Most importantly, we should enjoy time spent with others. If a day is all you get to spend with your family and loved ones for the holidays, leave everything behind to enjoy as much time as possible with them.

Appreciate technology for what it is worth

Technology these days is mind-blowing. It bothers me to give thanks for technology because I always try to get away from it. I use it too much, however, and reap its many benefits to not be thankful for it. For me, technology allows me to stay in touch with my family and not just hear their voices on the phone, but even see them face to face. They can see Lucy on a daily basis, which they love because she develops cuter habits every day and gets bigger by the hour it seems.

Technology is also our way of staying connected with society and helping others. Recently, a little boy went missing in the area. He was walking in the park with his father and ran off. His father followed him, but eventually lost sight of him in the woods. I heard about the missing boy on Twitter and followed the story every day. Initially, only law enforcement was out searching for the boy. After they could not find him for a couple days, they opened the search to the public, accepting volunteers. Word spread fast and 6,000 civilians showed up to search for the missing boy.

They found the boy five days later. The family must have felt incredibly blessed to have so many people care about their little boy. Technology definitely had a part in spreading the word about getting volunteers to help look for the boy.

This Thanksgiving, and after, remember to appreciate the little things in life – a meal shared with loved ones or with strangers, the ability to talk to people far away and still feel connected, and most importantly the companionship of others. And always remember to take the two extra seconds to say, "I love you."

Read other articles by Jacqueline Fennington