It’s been five years since Johnny’s Daddy and myself were on vacation as a couple. It’s been five years that we had 4 days alone together enjoying each other’s company and sharing each other’s thoughts without being interrupted or having to wait to finish a sentence. It’s been 5 years since we could just stay up late and just do what we wanted to do on the spur of a moment and just enjoy being together. I think it was long overdue.
So even though we were in the busy, crowded, fast paced, “the city that never sleeps” New York City, we felt like we were in our own world and taking it easy. Maybe its because I’m so used to being on constant vigil and using every moment as a “teaching moment” that to be set loose in a busy city with my best guy was exactly what I needed or we needed. We are on the go all the time juggling school, work, playgroup and therapy schedules that if we were sitting on a beach somewhere for 4 days we probably would have had troubles settling down right away. We thought it was funny how fast we drifted back into being “just a couple” and talking about stuff we both liked, exploring and taking pictures.
We have had a tough year. We had originally planned to go on winter (beach vacation) but my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer so everything was put on hold. Our lives then were dominated by juggling our son’s first year of school in Junior kindergarten and making sure our baby girl had fun all while taking care of my father who was slowly dying. When I think about it now, I can honestly say I have no idea how I was able to juggle everything especially when we, as a family, made the choice to allow my father to have a peaceful end in his room, at our home. We looked at each and Johnny’s Dad said “there is no question what we do….he stays here where he is happy…with us.”
So the treadmill with the juggling of family, needs and emotions began and we never got off. There was always something to do and some bureaucratic challenge or meeting we had to attend. Did I have time to grieve? When I am alone without the kids I do but those moments are few and far between. I know that my Dad would understand because he would jump on the treadmill and scoot me or Johnny’s Dad off to give us some rest. For so long I felt that I couldn’t get off the treadmill but I know I will have to stop and jump off sometimes and take care of myself.
The first step was taking a deep breath and joining Johnny’s Dad in New York City. I think the hardest thing a parent ever does is hand over their child to someone else to take care of but its even harder when you have a child with special needs. We deal with the pressures and challenges every day and know everything that could go great and what could go side-ways but we have gone through courses to learn how to handle these challenges. If you are reading this, Grandma and Grandpa, consider this your first cyber hug. We really appreciated it and your grandchildren now have some beautiful memories.
In other courses we have taken we have been told countless times that in order to be the best parents we can be and to be able to handle the stress and extra challenges raising a child with Autism that we need to take time for ourselves. Our little girl was just a little baby at the at time so put that advice away to think about later. After spending 4 days really bonding again we came back feeling happy and re-set with new resolve.
If we are going to truly help Johnny we need to remember to look after ourselves better.