A Breath of Fresh Air

My Kids continue to amaze me! We just returned from a trip to visit my Family. This summer has been one of Non existent routine, and it has been interesting to watch my Routine driven children learn to adapt.  As much as they thrive on routine, it is I think, important from time to time to show them how to  learn to be flexible, because after all, life in the real world is full of changes, and not everything always goes as planned.

As we loaded up for the long anticipated, yet shortened trip, excitement was high. They could not wait to get to grandma’s house, and their lists of what they were looking forward to varied from one child to the next. With Autism along for the trip, there was, as always, much planning on the part of the adults…my husband, parents and I talked well in advance, planning out as much as we could. The Big event of the trip was my youngest brother’s wedding.

We had already been through one family wedding with autism in tow, so we knew how to prepare. We wrote the social story, we planned escape routes for meltdowns, we had a shadow for the boy, seeing as my husband and i were both in the bridal party, and my parents, being parents of the groom, needed to be free to enjoy the day as their youngest child married His sweetheart.

As soon as we arrived at my mom’s, and the truck was unpacked, The kids settled right in as if they had never left. This was a safe haven, and they knew it. The Boy changed into old clothes and headed to the barn with Grandpa, the oldest headed to sleep…we had been on the road for 20 hours after all, and the youngest settled in with grandma while my husband and I crashed as well. What a wonderful feeling to know that my kids are safe, and that I can rest….this is not something I get just anywhere, and it is something I cherish every time We go to my Parents house.

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The result of my parent’s house being a safe haven was, as always, that my husband and I were able to slip off for some much needed time alone. We had a wonderful escape to my Aunt and Uncle’s Cabin in the mountains, and it was a precious time of reconnecting, of much needed peace and quiet, no kids to worry about. I am not saying I don’t love my kids…they are my world, but anyone with special needs children knows, getting time alone is a RARE thing, and yet it is OH SO IMPORTANT! While my husband and I were enjoying Our Mountain escape, the kids enjoyed time with their cousins, and went to the zoo.

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The day of the wedding drew closer, and the hectic chaos that goes into Visiting from 20 hours away, plus planning a wedding collided in a whirlwind of non stop activity, and yet, the kids continued to go with the flow. Sure, we had a few meltdowns, but no major blow outs. As best we could, my mom and I wrote out what was happening when on a calendar for the boy, and that helped a lot.

We met the lady my mom had found to be Dak’s shadow for the wedding, and there was an instant connection. a Fellow Mom, with kids on the spectrum, this was definitely a blessing, and another worry off my mind.  She came to the rehearsal, and while the Bridal party ran through the ceremony, she helped Dak go through a trial run with His social story, and then helped keep Him , and the rest of the kids entertained at the rehearsal dinner, before taking Him back to my mom’s when it was time for His evening dose of meds.

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There simply are not words to describe the Peace, and relief that comes in knowing that Your children are loved, accepted, and safe. In knowing that you can occasionally catch a breath, and enjoy time with Your spouse without hearing “Mom!!!” or worrying about a Meltdown, or elopement, or any of the other challenges Autism brings.

In the midst of wedding planning, and preparations, there were Family Game nights, and plenty of memories made with Cousins. The Visit went by ALL too fast. The day of the wedding arrived, and My youngest and I headed to my sister’s house with the rest of the Bridesmaids and the other flower girl to get ready. My Husband and my Brother and Dad held down the fort at the farm, while getting ready themselves, until Donna arrived to take over with Dak. I am told He did really well, and when I saw Him at the ceremony, He was listening to Donna, and following His social Story. I am really proud of my kids, and got reminded that, while it may take more planning on my part, special events like a wedding CAN be enjoyed by the WHOLE Family. My Sister in Law even got some pretty amazing Photos of my kids while the Bridal Party was standing in the receiving line…..

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After the ceremony, Donna took My Oldest two on to the reception, while the Bridal Party did the Photo thing. My Brother’s new Mother in Law had outdone herself with activities for the kids at the reception, and they ALL had a BLAST! I was able to relax, dance with my husband, and enjoy the entire day knowing that the kids were taken care of, and we had back-up plans firmly in place if needed, but am happy to say, they were not needed!

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All too soon, Our time was up, and we loaded back up in our truck to head south, to head home. We were all anxious to get back to our dogs, our house, our own beds, and yet, there was this feeling that the trip was too short, that we were leaving a safe zone, and heading back into chaos of getting ready for back to school, work, and every day life. This year got off to a very rocky start, and Our time in NY was a much needed breath of fresh air, and new life into our routine, our lives. Yes, Autism is a part of our lives, but this trip was a beautiful reminder that it is not the end of the world, of just how far we have come on this journey, and of the support that we do have, even if it is 20 hours away. This trip restored my hope, reminded me of what matters most, and pulled me farther out of the depression I have been battling. There is something about returning to the farm, to the country life I was so desperate to leave as a teen, that refreshes my spirit.

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I will leave You with a Final Thought… a segment of Lyrics to a song that has been stuck in my head for a while now….

“I laid in bed that night and thought about the day
And how my life is like a roller coaster ride
The ups and downs and crazy turns along the way
It’ll throw you off if you don’t hold on tight
You can’t really smile until you’ve shed some tears
I could die today or I might live on for years

I love this crazy, tragic,
Sometimes almost magic,
Awful, beautiful life”
~Darryl Worley: Awful, Beautiful Life~

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