Monday, March 7, 2011


I posted the following at Hopeful Parents yesterday.  Nothing fancy, but something I could really use your input on as we try to make this tough decision!

Instead of writing something poignant (ha!) or witty (right!), I could use a little help from you Hopeful Parents out there.
The other half is getting to go to Hawaii for business next month and we had planned on the boys and I meeting him at the end of his conference for a family vacation.  We were fortunate to go to Hawaii just over a year ago as well.  It was a lovely trip, aside from the awful-ness that was trying to fly home.  M did pretty well, all in all, but in truth, he is a different child today than he was just 13 months ago.  
I thought I could handle the 5 1/2 hour flight to Oahu by myself, but after flying back home to visit relatives last week, I absolutely know that I would not be able to do that with two young children successfully.  M's sensory issues have multiplied greatly and his ability to not lash out at me (verbally and often with pinching and grabbing) has gone right out the window.  The flights to and from our visit weren't the worst flights we've ever taken, but they were also far from the best, and they most definitely filled me with more consistent stress because I was aware that he was on the verge of a (loud) tantrum at almost every moment of the flight.  
My amazing mother-in-law has offered to fly with us to Hawaii.  This would be wonderful on several accounts.  Not only would she be an extra set of hands at the airport and on the plane (allowing me to actually get out of my seat to use the bathroom, which you know is going to need to happen on a flight that long!), she would allow the other half and I to take our own time, free of the kids, if we wanted it.
But here's where I need your help...she has also offered to fly to our home in California to stay with M while the other half, my typical four-year-old, and I go to Hawaii by ourselves.  The other half won't hear of it, but I have to admit that I think it is a really nice idea.  First off, we have two other domestic trips planned this year that M will absolutely be included in.  And second, doesn't B, my typically developing child, deserve a vacation where he can go places we normally wouldn't be able to go without the constant worry that it could end at any moment based on his brother's needs?   And as guilty as it makes me feel to admit it, I could use a 'normal' vacation as well.  It would be great to eat out at a restaurant, leisurely, without worrying that M will yell, or worse, try to grab food off of another diner's plate.  (yep, that happened to us the last time we went to Hawaii)  
It is hard to imagine how looking at photos after a trip like this--with one very important family member missing--will make us feel.  Just thinking about it certainly stirs up all sorts of emotions in me.  And I know that M adores the sunshine and being at a hotel.  But would I be the worst parent in the world if I actually did take my mother-in-law up on her offer?  Have YOU ever made this sort of decision?  I would love to hear your personal thoughts and stories.


:)De said...

Wow! I have to say that after my hurt child went to RTC and we went on our first family vacation without him, it was the most beautiful experience ever! My other children were safe and we could do things that we never had been able to do before. I was able to actually rest and take a nap WHILE ON VACATION! My younger kids smiled more and finished everything they wanted to, but would not have been able to had he been with us.

I understand the feelings of leaving a child out. I kept feeling like I left him like I had boarded our puppy. There was also the fact that when talking to people who would ask how many kids I had and I would stall and have this internal conversation of, ".....aaaahhhh, what number should I say?"

For me, I would take this oportunity to have a vacation, while your son stays home with grandma. Just like you avoid settings and situations to keep his stress at a minimal, think of this as a way to keep him in his same enviornment and routine.

My 2 cents.


starnes family said...

First, let's acknowledge what a badass MIL you have.


Second, I can see why you're torn. As a new mother, I wouldn't have thought of such. Then, when Carter was 4, we went to Mexico. We met a family who had 4 children, but only 3 were present. The mom, Pam (who I still stay in touch with) explained that her oldest was at home in Boston with extended family and they were taking a vacation sans-oldest and that he'd meet them later.

At first, I was shocked. How could she not include everyone?! Then, I talked further with Pam and learned that he has a very difficult condition. I sound like a total moron, but I've forgotten the's where the child eats everything in sight without ever being satisfied. The family has locks on the fridge, medicine cabinets (he'll eat toothpaste), etc. It's deadly and very tiresome for the parents.

Anyway, it all made sense once I knew the circumstances. Take a break if you need it, Deb. We all deserve to relax and each of us have different definitions of what that means.

BethRD said...

I have two relatively neurotypical children, and I took a vacation with just one child a few years ago. When my younger one was just a toddler, I was invited to a week at a beach house with a friend free of charge, and I went with my older child while my husband and younger one stayed home. It was a great chance for me to spend the kind of time with my older child that I hadn't been able since the younger one was born, and it gave me a break from being the primary parent of a toddler (and gave my husband some primary time). I don't think there's a rule that every family member has to be present for every single trip or event for ANY family, as long as everyone's needs are being met and separation doesn't become the norm.

And your MIL rocks!

Anonymous said...

You need to do what will rejuvenate you and keep you going when facing the tough times. You need a memory of beautiful ocean water to keep you afloat when it feels like life is pulling you under.

While you are gone, you can verbalize to your four year old that "this is fun, but it would be difficult for brother. It is hard for him to ____." When you get back, you can take pictures of the family doing special things with your older son. Maybe your MIL could take the four year old later in the year so you can have alone time with your oldest in places that are familiar to him. Each child will need a story of that time period, why the choice was made, and the advantages of each situation. If the narritive is developmentally appropriate and complete for each child, they will not fill in the blanks for themselves, such as "brother was bad, so Mom and Dad left him at home." They can hear, "this is my special time with Mom and Dad, and brother will have special time too."

I think we need to stop thinking what the right decision would be within the framework of an ordinary family. Our families are extraordinary, and our decisions will reflect this.

Your family is getting older. You may not have this opportunity again. You have heard the addage, "Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Add to that, "those with kids in the spectrum say, "GO."

I send a thank-you to your fabulous mother-in-law. Be at peace with your decision.


Rebekah said...

Do it...without regret.

You need some time. B needs some time. You can do something specifically tailored for M later on. Explain to B that this is his special time and that M will have his too.

Seriously, I would grab the opportunity and run with it like my pants were on fire. Hawaii?!? Fuck, yes!

You MIL totally rivals my MIL for awesomeness. Please tell her that she has an admirer.

redheadmomma said...

JEEZ I want your mother in law!!

You know, I think the goal is balance out the time we have with our kiddos. For my 20th reunion, I took my 5 year old with me, which included Disneyland for the day. we had a blast. However, I made sure that my husband took my ASD son to Great Wolf Lodge at the same time, and they had a blast. My son LOVED being just with his dad. Both of us had a GREAT time separately. I think that if you have one set of travel time with one kiddo, and one with another, it's fine and everyone is happy. Just think about something he'd love to do and do it with him not soon thereafter so he doesn't feel left out.

Joanne said...

Going to jump on the "do it" bandwagon. I try to remember that those experiences are hard on them as well, not just us, so while our concept of a great time is a vacation in Hawaii - theirs might be staying at home, in their own routine. Although C's issues are not the magnitude of M's, I know in my heart I push him to do things when he would rather just stay at home.

I say run, run like the wind. And don't regret a thing.

And, props to the MIL. She is fab.

Leah said...

Let me echo the folks giving props to you MIl.

And let me also say that I get it-- I totally get it. and as long as the hubby's can get on board, I think you should take advantage of the chance to have a wonderful trip for the three of you. I know you will have things planned for M. You have great, loving care in your MIL. Go have a great time, and tell me all about it.

Hugs from Grapevine,

sarah said...

That is a tough decision. I think it is sweet that the other half is having a hard time considering it. On the other hand I think for once it would be really nice to think of yourself, what will help rejuvenate you. One on one time with kids is so important. Especially during the trying years of 3 and 4. Brooks would get so much attention, and Miles would get one on one from his grandma too. I think it is a win-win, but I understand why it would be hard to decide.

Mom to JBG said...

I am one more voice for taking advantage of your MIL's offer.

This year I got a sitter for my twins with autism during their NT's brother's birthday party at a noisy arcade. A year ago I wouldn't have done it, but this year I had no qualms. Everyone was happier, including the twins.
You could do a closer-to-home trip with the whole family later in the year.
Good luck and have fun, whatever you decide!

SquarePeg said...

Go sweetie - find your smile again and bring it home to M.


stagerat said...

You don't ask the easy questions, do you? Just cruising by and basically couldn't keep from poking my nose in. Balancing the needs of the rest of the family against the guilt that inevitably rises out of not doing something for the special needs contingent is about as tough as it gets. You know, it's not actually abandoning your responcibilities to do something occasionally for the rest of the clan, including yourself. I think your MIL will treasure the time, and the oprotunity do do something for her granchildren, you and your husband. And as long as you don't do it too often we won't tell on ya... Take the chances that come, they may not come again for a long time.