CJ and I took the big kids to the beach last weekend. We had a great time together: saw a 100 year old shipwreck, played on the beach, hung out in an arcade, listened to all our favorite music in the car. TJ and MJ got along well with only a few minor squabbles. Our hotel was right on the boardwalk, and it was so nice we wanted to move in.
The vacation was bittersweet for me. We left JJ home with a respite provider. At this point on our lives, we rarely take JJ anywhere. His size and behavior makes it so hard to keep him safe, and we always worry about a meltdown or an aggresive reaction to something. We have had several times where JJ has hit or pushed over other children, and it's frusterating and a bit embarassing for us. We can't relax for a second with him. We have had a few sucessful trips to the coast with JJ. If the beach is pretty deserted, and there are no groups of people for JJ to veer towards, then we can enjoy ourselves in the sand. But that has to be it- no resturants or other adventures. The wide open Oregon coastline has to be the only destination.
Leaving JJ and having fun with the older kids is so important. TJ and MJ deserve to have some time where their dad and I can actually interact with them. Usually at least one of us is trying to keep a close eye on JJ because he's running away or getting into something, or we're trying to keep him from hitting, kicking, and pulling hair. It's hard, it hurts. I so want my family to be able to do fun things together. I'm really lucky that TJ and MJ are such wonderful kids. They know they have it harder than alot of kids, and they dream of what it would have been like if JJ were different, but they don't begrudge JJ all the time and attention devoted to him. They are truly awesome. I need to make sure I am telling that to them, and not just to cyberspace.
It felt like we were incredibly free without JJ this past weekend, and that makes me feel so guilty. It's hard to come to terms with all the conflicting emotions that circle around in my head. Feeling trapped, but being terrified of letting him go. Being fearful of the future, but dreaming of a day when he's not the focus 24/7. Wishing I had some space, then cherishing the closeness. Crying over the weight of it, but recognizing the blessings. It's as if there is no middle ground. Just a big swing from one dramatic side to the other. CJ feels it just like I do. I have seen him chamge in the last 5 years since autism entered our lives. He's not a laid back and easygoing as he used to be. He's had to carry the weight of supporting our family, and he's done a stellar job. He's so kind and loving to me, and I admire how he can express his heartfelt emotions and be my rock at the same time.
Ok, enough of the emotional explosion, and on to the good stuff: Pictures. :)
Catch me if you can-