Summer nights for us are LATE! Ridiculously late. Bad parenting late. So far this week, our schedule has kept our kids awake – Saturday past midnight, Sunday until 10:30, Monday past 10:00, Tuesday past 11 and Wednesday past 11.
Camryn has ESY and the rest of us have..nothing. No camps, no practices, no schedules. I love the spontaneity of summer and I still mourn that Camryn has ESY. The best part of being a kid was summers OFF. The best part of summer since having kids was being OFF with them.
Autism put carefree summers to a halt. Three years ago, I knew that carefree summer days were no longer an option for Camryn. She had to go to Extended School Year. Yes, Camryn needs ESY and I actually need Camryn to go to ESY, but when the school bus comes in the morning, there are days that my heart aches.
The summers that I envisioned for my firstborn while pregnant have never been easy. For years I worked so hard to keep her home and happy, but my perfect, firstborn daughter needs ESY. She NEEDS a routine; whereas I despise the commitment of a schedule.
The whole schedule thing takes effort. The thought of September- school, homework, practices and lessons makes me cringe. The question, “What are you doing two weeks from today?” stresses me out. I am a notorious ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ type of person.
In the past, I felt criticized when people would question the way I functioned. Now, with maturity, I have become quite comfortable with my last minute way of life. What others saw as a character flaw, was God preparing me for the flexibility and reasonable expectations you need to parent a child with Autism.
For example here are some thoughts that go through my mind that probably would not go through my mind if Camryn didn’t have a diagnosis.
Typical moms group text- (ALL CAPS
TO SHOW DESPERATION)– GIRLS NIGHT- FRIDAY, JUNE 1
My Thoughts – It’s April. Let me survive the next IEP meeting. Plus, things have been rough right now. I hate to leave Dave alone.
Birthday Party for Typical Kid and Possible Response from Mom of Child with Autism– Thanks for inviting us to Get Air, but we are unable to attend.
This may mean– Motor delays really stink at places like this. That is great that your kid may be the next American Ninja Warrior. I too have one that climbs doorways and performs illegal stunts, but I just don’t feel like being reminded of differences today. The difficulties of reminders come in waves and I am in a bad season right now.
Typical Mom– It is easier if you come here for dinner, play date, etc…
Mom of Child with Autism– It very well may be difficult for you to come to me, but we are working so hard on specific goals that are slightly easier to achieve at home.
Typical Mom– I was there for you, but you don’t seem to be as good of a friend to me.
Mom of Child with Autism– I am so sorry that I am not good at being your friend. I am working really hard to be my child’s friend. Further Translation- On February 15, 2005, my life was turned upside down. Thanks in advance for all that you do to help me. I will never be able to repay you. There will be a season when I can help you and I look forward to celebrating that with you.
Sometimes, we just pick up and escape to leave “our world” behind for a getaway. On Tuesday, I let Cam sleep in and skip ESY. To reward her awesomeness and her sisters’ unwavering support, I took the girls to one of Camryn’s favorite places, Embassy Suites. I found the closet one with a pool, packed bags, games, art stuff and we just swam, played and ate. Their free evening reception counts as dinner and their free breakfast counts as brunch. Cam LOVES THAT HOTEL MORE THAN SHE LOVES US.
Life with Camryn is easier when we don’t plan and just go. If she knows things in advance, she perseverates and drives us crazy. Just putting her in the car and not telling her a thing is the way we roll.
Check out some highlights of our Cam celebration. Every ounce of her is worth celebrating and her sisters agree.
Courtney Just Loves Camryn
I Love the Way They Look at Their Big Sister
Hanging on Jungle Gym Cam
Don’t ever worry, the sisters are celebrated too. Tonight, they had facials, foot treatments, spa music playing, and hair masks… Dave was my assistant. Although he did fall asleep the second he sat down.
Everyone’s family functions differently and that is okay. I hate plans, I love last minute. I married someone just like me. I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for us.
Dave and I leave on Thursday to celebrate my 40th birthday and our 15th Wedding Anniversary. I will pack Thursday. That doesn’t stress me in the least. I am a roll with the punches type of person. God made me this way for a reason and unfortunately, this will never change. Some call my behavior procrastination. I call it the art of getting everything done last minute and knowing that if I forget anything, oh well. The things we stress about seem to have a way of working out.
It is all about simplifying and plus these spontaneous moments make us appear cool as of right now to the girls.
Try it, if you don’t already. Pack up your kids and just go for it. They will remember it forever. Plus, we have a lot to compete with. If we do things that make them want to be with us now, just maybe this will continue in the future.