I’ve read my friend Jess’ post “physical” three times today.

I know that he can’t help it. He was up at 1am. We’re going his favorite place on the planet tomorrow. It’s the first real day of summer vacation. We have no routine.

In isolation I can take it. I can rationally understand the stimming, the crashing into me. When it is just the two of us, I can let it all go. Let him be who he needs to be. Let him scream, squeal, and climb all over me.

But we don’t live in isolation. It affects everyone in the house.  Constant conflicting needs. I have an older kid screaming at me to make him stop. I have a younger kid mimicking it all and infuriating everyone. I have him trying to choke or push on his younger brother’s belly because he needs a squish.

Not malicious. I know he can’t help it. But it hurts everyone else.

So I have yelled. Screamed. Yanked him away from potentially hurting his younger brother and pushing him off of me as he tried to climb into my skin.

And now I have taken away the one thing that is causing the spiral – the trip tomorrow. He has to earn it back. Rationally I know this is wrong. Putting the onus on a kid to reverse his behavior that he cannot control.

But I have four other people in the family. Including me.

They are all mad at me now.

And this all combined makes me feel not only like the worst parent in the world but the worst autism parent in the world. Because I should know better right? Me, the advocate for acceptance and understanding and tolerance. The one who goes into his school and reminds them that he cannot help how he behaves in times of stress/anxiety/uncertainty. I shouldn’t yell because none of them – my whole household full of people somewhere on different parts of the spectrum – cannot help it.

And yet, I did. And now the empty threat of no trip.

He and I sat on the stairs for a while. I held him as he screamed that it was everyone else’s fault.  That they were “blowing up his nerves.”

I brought him up to his room just now. Told him this was his safe space to escape just like the Learning Center at school was his safe place there. This was his place for a break. We brought out his train tracks and I told him to build one while I got a hastily thrown together dinner ready for Gerry before baseball in the 100 degree heat.

I told him we would earn the trip back together.

But I hate this. I really really hate this.

Not my kid. Not autism.

I hate my inability to handle it. I hate their inability to handle it. And I don’t know where to go from here.

image

No one said it would be easy

But no one said it’d be this hard

No one said it would be easy

No one thought we’d come this far.” – No One Said It Would Be Easy by Sheryl Crow

“I took the kids to a barnyard and creamery. The goats are humping each other and there’s a bunny that is definitely not alive.  And we got rear ended on the way here.  Has school started yet?” – my text to a friend yesterday morning.

It has been a long hot week.

This was our first full week of summer vacation at home.  Last week we spent three days in the middle of the week at Our Happiest Place on Earth.  Not Disney, but Story Land in New Hampshire.  So this was my first week that I was full on in charge of the daily activities for three boys who either play together fabulously or throw Hot Wheels cars at each other.  There’s no in between.

So…yeah.  I’ve been pulling 18 hour days of being Julie McCoy.

I woke up on Tuesday thinking it was Friday.  That was bad wishful thinking.

There hasn’t been much in between with the weather too.  For two weeks straight it’s been either torrential rains or 95 degrees out.

Friday was one of those days.  It poured like crazy for two straight hours when we woke up and then turned blistering hot.  I needed to escape the house and chose a little creamery near us that had a barnyard.  They also had something called a “barnyard jump”, which looked like the bottom part of a bounce house.  Even showing my kids all of this, it still took us 45 minutes to get out of the house.

Herding cats is an understatement.

We got about six minutes from our house, and I slowed the car down because the car in front of me was taking a left.  I was at a complete stop when in my rear view mirror I see a small Toyota truck get closer and closer and…

BAM!

I pulled into the restaurant parking lot that was on the side of the road, and the 12 year old driving the truck got out, looking horrified.

(Yes, I’m sure she wasn’t 12.  But she looked it.  Because I’m that age now when anyone under twenty-five looks twelve.)

We exchanged info even though there wasn’t any visible damage to the car.  The kids were wide-eyed but okay.

We got to the creamery right as it opened and the sun was beating down.  As we piled out of the car, one of the girls working there walked by.

“Can you tell us where the barnyard bounce is?” I yelled across the parking lot.

“It’s down the hill but it’s not open.  It’s too wet from all the rain.”

Um…what?

“Do you think it will open this morning?” I yelled again, with a slight hint of desperation.

“I have no idea!” yelled the girl back.

Oh good.

I turned to the boys and tried to explain the situation.

“So, the big jumpy thing is wet from all the rain and it’s not open now.  I know it will be a disappointment if we can’t go on.  But let’s go look at the animals and hey…how about ice cream for lunch!”

That seemed to settle them for a bit and we checked out the barnyard.  On the hill below, more twelve-year-olds were walking around the big jumpy thing with giant hand dryers.

The barnyard had some cute baby chickens, some very loud grown-up chickens, goats, bunnies, alpacas, a pig and a cow.

The kids were most excited by a big dog that kept running by with a John Deere collar.  He ran up and down between the two fences separating us from the animals.

There was one very quiet bunny laying by its water dish.  At first, I thought he was just resting.  It was 90 degrees after all.  But then the dog ran by several hundred times and it didn’t move.  A closer inspection by me as the kids ran with the dog proved that the bunny wasn’t breathing.  The farmer (??) didn’t seem to notice and I didn’t want to upset the kids.

I was then distracted by the goats that started…um…climbing on top of each other.

“Time for ice cream for lunch!” I proclaimed.

That killed a good 30 minutes.  I’m sure Howie ate all sorts of forbidden corn syrup products in his ice cream and I knew I’d pay later, but at that moment I just didn’t care.

(note: I forgot my camera, so these pictures were taken on my incredibly old BlackBerry.  I only have space for 5 pictures to save on the phone so I delete the crummy ones along the way.  Yes, these were the best ones.)

“You can eat the bowl!”

We left when Howie tried to follow the model train into the employees only area as Lewis was yelling “Pay online! Save time!”

(another note: if anyone can tell me what that is from, I would greatly appreciate it.  So I can make sure he doesn’t watch it again.)

As I was about to tell the kids that we were going home, we noticed some kids jumping on the barnyard bounce.

So with bellies completely full of ice cream…away they went.

please don’t puke…please don’t puke….

“Get out of here bugs!! You don’t want us jumping on you!!”

Best $15 for 45 minutes I’ve spent in a long time.

(last note: I also forgot sunscreen which meant we couldn’t play on the mini-golf course that was “calling my name!” as Gerry put it.  I told them their dad would be upset if we golfed without him so we’d have to go back with him.  Sorry Tim.)

Howie insisted on saying goodbye to the animals before we left.  The definitely dead bunny was still there.

The goats were done with their…business. So they came over to say hello.

Once Lewis started taunting the goats with “Hey goat! Look at you stuck behind those two fences!”, it was time to go home.

But not before one last really bad picture. Someone is all done. Someone besides me that is…

On the way home, we drove by the spot where we were rear ended all those hours earlier.  Howie proclaimed “Hey!  That’s where that truck smashed into us!”

I am pretty sure we’ll hear that for the next 35 years.

We have ten more days before camp starts for Lewis and our Extended School Year program starts for Howie.

Until then, I’ll have my Julie McCoy hat on.  Look for me.  I’ll be the one herding the cats.

Ten more days. I can do it.

Hot summer streets
And the pavements are burning
I sit around
Trying to smile but
The air is so heavy and dry
Strange voices are saying
(What did they say)
Things I can’t understand
It’s too close for comfort
This heat has got
Right out of hand

It’s a cruel, (cruel), cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel, (it’s a cruel), cruel summer
Now you’re gone” – Cruel Summer by Bananarama

Thinking of all my friends in the Mid-Atlantic states hit hard by last night’s storm.  I hope you get your power back soon so you can read that I’m thinking about you 🙂

It’s the first night of the last day of school.

Howie’s laying in my bed in the dark, watching a show.  I’m working on the computer.

“Mom? What age will I go back to Miss P’s class?”

Miss P is – was – his kindergarten teacher.

“You won’t, sweetie.” I replied without turning around. “She only teaches kindergarten and you won’t be in kindergarten again.”

I go back to working.

Five minutes later, I hear quiet crying.

Sobbing.

My kid does not sob. He cries – loud, shrieking, angry cries. But not like this.

I turn around.  Howie is crying into his pillow.

“What is it?  What is wrong?”

“I forgot to move my chair to first grade.  I can’t be in first grade without my chair.”  More body shaking sobs.

I crawl into bed next to him.  He’s hiding his face in the blankets.

“Your chair?  Oh…your special chair.  The one with the therabands and the velcro?”

About two months ago, the amazing school OT was revamping Howie’s sensory diet for his classroom.  She put therabands around the bottom of his chair so he could kick his legs while doing his work and not hit anyone.  She put velcro on the sides of his chair and on his desk so he could rub his hands on it for extra sensory input.  That chair made all the difference for him these last weeks of school.  He knew that chair helped him.

And in his mind, the chair was staying put in kindergarten when he moved to a new classroom.

“I promise you we’ll get your chair and make sure it’s in your classroom for first grade.  I will even make sure it’s there for your summer camp too.  Okay?  Don’t worry.  It will be there for you.”

But then…he went on.

Because it wasn’t just about the chair.

“Why do I have to go to another classroom with a new teacher?  I will really miss Miss P. Will Mrs. S be with me in first grade?”

Mrs. S was one of his aides this year.  She really understood him and was with him today on his last day.

“And my friends!  What about my friends?  I will never see them again.”

I assured him that he would.  That we could have playdates over the summer to make sure he saw them.

“But it won’t be every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.”

Can I just pause for a moment? 

In the midst of all this anxiety…as my son is shaking with tears…I see progress. 

It’s the double edged sword of the special needs mom. 

With this painthe first glimmer all year of connection to peers.  The first time ever expressing and understanding that loss of connection.

I pulled him in close and told him that we’d make sure he’d see his friends as much as possible.

The crying and the questions continued.

“How come none of my friends are with me in my new class?”

I had no good answer for that one, not one that was easily shared.  Howie is going into a 1st/2nd grade combined class so there were only so many spots.  The other parents would have had to first choose the mixed-level class to start, and then gender and all sorts of other things factor into placement.  Plus, he had a hard time with the dynamic of his kindergarten class so having new kids around him made sense.  Or so I thought.

“What if I can’t remember all the new kids’ names?”

At this point, I had sent Tim a quick text to come upstairs.  I was about to start sobbing myself.

“Mom.  I am scared to go to first grade.”

Pausing again to mark the moment.  We have hit so many emotions in the past but never this one.  Expressed so appropriately and so…painfully. 

We talked through the fear.  I told him that every year I was afraid to go to school but once I walked into the classroom I was fine.

Tim suggested that we get a class list and meet some of the other kids over the summer so they weren’t new faces in August.

Howie sat up straight.  He turned his hand into a talking “puppet” and said, in the most age appropriate mocking voice:

“Hi.  I’m Howie.  I’m afraid of first grade.”

And he slumped back into the pillow and starting sobbing again.

Progress and pain.

Somehow, Tim got him laughing a few minutes later and he finally calmed down.  He smashed his body into mine and asked if I could hug him.

“I love you, sweetie.” I whispered as I do every night.

Every night I get the same “I love you too” scripted response back.

Tonight I got “The same back to you.”

I’m not going to lie.  I am wracked with guilt and joy tonight.  The guilt, well, that’s obvious.  All year long all I saw were the struggles.  It was all anyone else saw too.  He never mentioned the connections he was making with his teachers or friends, even when asked.  I figured many of the “friendships” written about in his communication log were contrived social situations so he could practice his skills.  I had asked about playdates but he never mentioned any particular friend.  What I never realized was that he was connected to them all – any one could have been a potential good friend. For the past few weeks I have been so focused on just ending this school year and starting fresh.  I couldn’t stand to read the communication log one more time.  I couldn’t bear one more meeting, one more data sheet of tantrums, one more phone call from the school.  All about me.  Not once did I stop to think that my little guy would want or need something different.

The joy?  The complete and total appropriateness of his reaction.  The clarity of his expression of his feelings.  His need to talk about it.  The fact that it was about his chair but it wasn’t about the chair.  It was the worry about missing the things – and people – that helped him the most. 

I sent an email tonight to his team at school requesting that his chair be moved into a special room so it would be there for his summer program, and asking if it was possible for him to help move his chair into his new classroom before school started again.

The subject line of the email was “Just One More Thing…”

It’s always just one more thing.

Progress and Pain.

 

I’ve never done a “Wordless Wednesday” before.

But I couldn’t pass this up.

This picture left me speechless.

Last year, my son wouldn’t touch sand.  Kept shoes on.  No beach.

This year…

Behold…

Wait for it…

Who needs a weighted blanket?

He kept asking for more sand.  More decorations.

Look at his eyes.  Relaxed.

“It’s like a giant sandy hug.”

Thank you to my friends who got him into the sand and covered him up and scratched his nose.  If his knee wasn’t itchy, I think he’d still be there.

I’m writing this post from a Panera Bread cafe.

I’m using their free wi-fi, drinking a cup of coffee.  One empty plate sits next to me.  It used to hold an egg and cheese sandwich.

I’m alone.  For the first time in almost three years, it’s 10am and I’m completely alone.

Gerry is at baseball camp.  Howie is at his extended school year summer program.

And my little two-and-a-half year old Lewis?  He’s at his first early intervention drop-off playgroup.

He qualified for it because he’s now receiving home speech services.  It’s the first time I’ve ever left him…anywhere.

Last night I sent some friends a message on Facebook:

So Lewis starts his first EI drop off group tomorrow. On one hand, this will be the first alone time I’ve had in 2 1/2 years. On the other hand, I really wish he wasn’t eligible to go to an EI drop off group.

My friends had the best responses (of course):

Totally hear you. But he’s getting what he needs. That’s a really, really good thing.

And:

He is getting what he needs and you can take a moment to breathe. Xo

And:

Big picture- he is getting what he needs and that alone is awesome. Bigger picture- YOU GET TIME ALONE!!!! Now hear me, woman…listen good. Do NOT use that time to clean a damn thing. Get yourself a good book- FICTION or something else that interests you that is NOT about {autismspecialneedssensory​processingdisorderearlyint​erventiontherapy} or anything like that. Take said book and get thyself to a Starbucks or a favorite cafe or lunch spot and – wait for it- LEISURELY sip a beverage of choice

And:

Go get a pedicure during your alone time. Oh, wait….

(that’s from a friend who really knows how much I hate people touching my feet…)

So here I am.  My kids are doing they things they need to do.  Playing ball outside, making marshmallow men at summer school, and…playing with kids their own age.

And I’m getting what I need too.  Time to write.  Time to drink my coffee before it goes cold.  Perhaps even time to go to the bathroom alone.

Time for…me.

90 more minutes.  Excuse me while I go refill my cup.

off to playgroup

"Play with kids?"

I drink alone, yeah
With nobody else
I drink alone, yeah
With nobody else
You know when I drink alone
I prefer to be by myself” – I Drink Alone by George Thorogood

It’s my son’s “Happy Place”.

For the past seven years in June we’ve been taking the kids to Story Land amusement park in Glen, New Hampshire.  Our first year was with just one kid.  Now we’re a loud and rowdy family of five.

Story Land has become Howie’s place. Something clicked with him and this park when he was two.  Before I even knew what a stim was, he would sit hunched over the map on our floor, rocking back and forth.  He knew where every ride was, where the eating places were, and where the exit was (“X marks the spot”).  He would talk about it constantly.  And those nights before we discovered melatonin – when Howie would take hours to fall asleep and wake up at 2am screaming – Tim would take out his phone and scroll through the pictures of our previous trip.  “See, that’s you on the flying shoes!  And that’s you and Mom on the train.  Look, that’s you driving a car.” Quietly and slowly, Howie would fall back to sleep again.

Every day he asks how many more “sleeps” until Story Land.  And when I say every day, I mean every day.  Three hundred and sixty days a year for the past three years.  I’m subtracting out the days that we’re actually at the park.  In the winter he asks how long before the snow melts and Story Land is open.  In the spring he asks how long before the workers open up the park.  In the summer he asks to show him on the calendar the number of the day that we’re going.  And when we return, he asks when we’re going back.

Our trip up there was last week.  Maybe it’s because I’m starting to understand him better, but I finally could see what he sees.

I saw a place where all three of my kids could ride on every ride.

How Tall Are you?

I saw a place where stories come to life – not in a scary way with lots of people in costumes (because we don’t do people in costumes) – but in a nice gentle approach-if-you-want kind of way.

Cinderella's Pumpkin

I saw a place where the kids didn’t have to hold my hand, but they could hold each other’s hands.

this way to Storyland

storyland hug

I saw a place where kids could drive their parents around in cars.

Driving Miss Mommy

I saw a place that had food that was safe to eat, because they publish all of their food’s ingredients online so we knew what we could buy.

eating our way through the park

I saw a place where all three of my boys were happy.  No fighting.  No complaining about stimming or verbal outbursts.  Happy.  All at the same time.  For three days straight.

Let's Get Together At Storyland

I took a moment to look through the eyes of my five year old.  What I saw was magic.

You can have Disney.  We’ll take Story Land.

Three hundred and fifty five days until we go back.

"The sun will always shine where you stand
Depending in which land
You may find yourself.
Now you have my blessing, go your way.
Happiness runs in a circular motion
Thought is like a little boat upon the sea.
Everybody is a part of everything anyway,
You can have everything if you let yourself be.
Happiness runs, happiness runs.
Happiness runs, happiness runs." - Happiness Runs by Donovan

So, how much sharing is too much?

It’s Wednesday morning, and my family was in the lobby of our hotel.  We’re on our annual trek to our favorite place on Earth: Storyland in New Hampshire.  We’ve come down for the hotel’s free breakfast, and we’re crowded around the tiny table.

Well, not all of us.  I had removed Howie from the sitting area because his behavior was becoming quite disruptive.  I plopped him down in the chair in front of the reservation desk, handed him a Storyland map, and told him to plan out our day.  I strategically placed myself halfway between him and our table, so I could keep an eye on everyone.  And suck down my free coffee at the same time.

At that moment, a mom and her son came in.  He looked to be about seven years old or so.  She asked if I was waiting for a table, and as I gestured to my left and right I explained that I was keeping track of my crew.  She smiled and grabbed a table in the middle of the room.  Her husband and daughter came in behind them.

A few minutes later, I heard her tell her son to “just go out and ask them what they like about Storyland.  He has a map right there.”  Her son comes right out, glances back at his mom, and turns to Howie.

“So, what do you like about Storyland?”

Howie’s eyes lit up.  It was  like asking Dino Dan what he likes about dinosaurs.

(in case you don’t know, Storyland is Howie’s second obsession after Hot Wheels cars.  He asks almost every day “how many more sleeps” until we’re going.  And on the days when he doesn’t ask, he talks about his favorite rides.  Constantly.)

For a good ten minutes the conversation flowed.  “I like the polar coaster!” “I’m going on the Flying Fish!” “Do you like the train?” “I’m going to ride on the green one!” “Did you know there’s a circus”…and on and on and on…until:

“Mom!  I made a new friend!”

From Howie.

Of course, he didn’t know the kid’s name or anything about him.  They just connected on Storyland and that was enough.  Frankly I was surprised he didn’t say “I made a new best friend!”

The rest of us finished our breakfast and headed back up to the room to get ready for our big day at the park.  Our new friend Gabe (yes, we now knew his name) and his dad rode up with us.  And they were still talking about Storyland.

We said our goodbyes at the elevator and the perfunctory “see you at the park”, gathered our things and went our separate ways.

In the parking lot, I realized I had forgotten something in the room.  I headed back to the lobby, and ran into Gabe’s dad outside of the door.

Something overtook me at that moment.  I don’t know what it was.  For some reason, I was compelled to talk to him.  To thank him.  So I did.

“I just have to thank you and your son.  He’s a great kid and my boys had a nice time talking with him about the park.  My five year old…um…he has high functioning autism, and it’s hard for him to relate to kids sometimes, so…um…that was really great for me and him.  Thank you.”  And I turned and walked into the hotel.  His wife was walking out right then.  She looked at me quizzically and said “I guess I’ll have him fill me in.”

I have never shared that information with a stranger.  A complete and total stranger. There was no immediate reason for me to tell them any of that.  The only time I’ve ever told anyone about Howie’s autism was as an explanation for his behavior.  And it’s only to a person who we already know.  I’ve never considered it anyone’s business before.  And clearly, they didn’t need to know it.  They came into breakfast five minutes past the verbal outbursts, the refusal to eat, and the inability to sit still.  All they saw was a perfectly behaved five year old, talking about his favorite vacation spot.

But I saw something different.  I saw my son connect with another young boy – one that he had never met before.

A boy that seemed a little like…mine.

What was it that got my radar up?  Was it the excited way that he talked too?  Or was it the fact that his mother asked me twice if he was bothering my boys?  Or was it the little tears that welled up in her eyes when I told her that Howie said that he made a new friend?

Something compelled me to tell that family our story.  It was the thought that maybe we shared something else besides our love for the Whirling Whale ride.

We saw the family two times at the park that day.  Once they were getting off one ride, and we were getting on.  There was a quick hello, and that was it.  Later on, I saw the mom.  She was walking alone, talking on the phone.  She glanced at me, and looked away.

I’m guessing now that my radar was off that day.  I was wrong. And I scared her.

I expected a teary “yes, us too!”. What I got was a “I don’t know you.”

I spent the rest of the day thinking about this encounter.  What did I expect to gain from sharing, or in this case, oversharing?  Why did I need them to know?  Why did I need to connect with this family?  They were strangers then and are strangers now.

Why did I need to make my son the topic of her next mom’s night out?

I guess it’s that feeling of not wanting to be alone.  I thought she’d be a mom who “gets it”.  Instead, she was a mom who didn’t want to understand.

However…

I’m not sure I’d do anything different any other time.

You just never know when you’ll get that teary “yes, us too.”

That moment can make all the difference.

footprints

Let's get together at Storyland

(more about our actual visit to Storyland in my next post.  As soon as I finish unpacking…could be weeks…)

And the trouble I find is that the trouble finds me
It’s a part of my mind it begins with a dream
And a feeling I get when I look and I see
That this world is a puzzle, I’ll find all of the pieces
And put it all together, and then I’ll rearrange it
I’ll follow it forever
Always be as strange as it seems
Nobody ever told me not to try” – Talk of the Town by Jack Johnson

It’s not you, it’s me.

I’m at Hopeful Parents today.  Sort of.

Hopeful Parents

You're So Vain

Click HERE for You’re So Vain at Hopeful Parents

(and while you’re there, click around.  There’s some great posts by some amazing special needs parents)

“We’re selling the boat.  Trying not to be completely sad about it.”

That was my Facebook status yesterday as my husband pulled the boat out of the garage to clean it up so we could sell it.  It was the first time the boat had been outside of that garage in five years.

That’s when we moved here.  It’s been five years.  It’s actually been six years since we’ve used the boat.  Clearly, it’s time to sell it.

But it’s making me very sad.

I’m not usually the sentimental type to get attached to things.  There isn’t much in his house that I’m connected too, except maybe our green recliner.  But there’s a lot of emotion tied up for me with that boat. The first (only?) vacation that Tim and I took together as a couple was a week on a New Hampshire lake with friends.  Summers were spent out on that boat – camping at the marina at night and lazily floating in the sandbar during the day, working on crossword puzzles and reading the newspaper.  Much of our pre-kid time was centered on boating.

I suppose there’s a lot of emotion tied up with boats in general for me.  I remember being twelve or thirteen and going to get my family’s first ski boat.  We picked it up on a particularly windy day and took hours motoring back to our marina, closely hugging the shores of Lake Champlain.  My father taught us how to waterski off of that boat, and how to navigate the choppy waters of the lake.  We would spend weekends with my cousins going back and forth in a tiny cove on the New York side of the lake.  He taught me how to dock the boat and how to tie the knots to hold it tight.

I also remember it being a money pit and it needing constant maintenance.  As we got older we used the boat less and less.  When the marina fees jumped in price, we no longer kept the boat at the dock.  The more time it took to take the boat out, the less time we actually used it.  And eventually, my parents got rid of it.  It just wasn’t worth it anymore.

And that’s where we are now with our boat.  We’re now over two hours from our old lake.  What was once a manageable trip is now a ridiculous undertaking.  Under the best of circumstances.  Hours in the car for potentially a short amount of time on the water.  Hundreds of dollars in fuel now that gas prices are so high.  Boat insurance.  Time spent just getting the boat ready for the trip.  Add in the unpredictable nature of autism and SPD and three young boys who have never been boating before…

I’m not blaming this on my son’s autism and SPD.  But I can’t say that it’s not a factor in all of this.  Because autism and SPD are a part of him and a part of our family.  It has changed how we view…everything.  It’s weaved through everything we plan and do together.  I can’t just dismiss it and think he’ll be fine.  And I can’t dismiss how my other two kids would react if my son falls apart.

Sigh.

There are dozens of reasons to get rid of the boat.   There’s just one reason to keep it.

I feel like I’m giving up.  I feel like I’ve failed.

Boating as a family has always been my dream.  We don’t ski, or camp, or spend summers at the beach.  Boating was going to be our thing.  I had visions of spending time with the boys at a rented house on a lake every summer.  Watching Tim teach them how to swim, and ski, and tie knots.  Pictures of them driving the boat around the cove.  Laughing as we told them it was okay to pee in the lake.

Selling the boat feels like I’m selling that dream.  It’s the final realization that our family just can’t do all the things I thought we would do.  We already skip family gatherings, birthday parties, and other events because it’s just too hard.   I held tight to that boat in the garage because it was holding onto the last symbol of what I thought our family was supposed to be.

Friends have been telling us to sell the boat for years.  “Wouldn’t you like to have your car in the garage?”, they’d ask.

I don’t care about having a spot for my car.  I care about finding that one activity that pulls my family together as one.

I’m trying to see this as a dream deferred.  It’s just not the right time for our family to own a boat.  I know we can find something else that we can all do together.  Something that works for every single member of our five person crew.

And maybe someday the time will be right again for us to have a boat.  Maybe when the kids are older.  Or maybe when they have kids.

I’m going to let the boat go.

It’s just a boat, right?  It’s just a boat.

“It’s not far to never never land
No reason to pretend
And if the wind is right you can find the joy
Of innocence again
The canvas can do miracles
Just you wait and see
Believe me

Sailing
Takes me away
To where I’ve always heard it could be
Just a dream and the wind to carry me
And soon I will be free” – Sailing by Christopher Cross

I’m over at Hartley’s Life With 3 Boys today getting ready for Thanksgiving.  Come read my packing list and see how it compares to yours!

813 Mile Car Trip