I have been on vacation. I have been far away from my computer and my blog. I have been in another world. My daughter Molly and I just returned from a week in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We spent a week together. We swam in the Ocean. Ate lots of "vacation" food. Shopped. Danced. Oh, did we see some amazing dancing. Mostly, though, we spent some much needed bonding time and just enjoyed being together. We were missing something though. We were missing the rest of our family.
My little dancer Molly had her Nationals dance competition in Myrtle Beach this past week. Molly and I rode down with my sister-in-law and her family, as my sixteen year old niece was competing as well. It was such a blessing to have family to travel with, because my own husband and little boy were staying home. From the moment my husband and I signed Molly up to be a part of her studio's Dance Company, we knew a trip for my daughter and I was coming. We also knew that our little Brady would not be able to handle a trip involving a very long car ride and hours of watching dance performances. We knew sensory issues would make the crowds unbearable. We knew his lack of attention span would make watching even a two minute routine, next to impossible. We knew such a big change in his beloved daily schedule would cause frustration for him. We knew this would not be the year that Brady would be a part of our dance trip. Our vacation. Our time together.
So my patient and understanding husband agreed that he would stay home with Brady, and Molly and I would go to Myrtle Beach to be a part of her competition. He would miss another performance. But he would do anything to make his little girl happy. Anything to let her see her dreams come true. Anything to let her have her time to be the center of her mommy's attention. So we agreed. The plans were set in January. As the months quickly flew by and I turned the calendar to July, it hit us hard that we would not be a family on our family vacation. We were once again reminded of the challenges and sacrifices that parents of children with special needs make. It was a bittersweet realization that a trip I had carefully planned, looked forward to week after week, and talked about endlessly with dance friends and family, was going to be missing two very important people. Molly was so excited to get on the road and begin her next adventure on stage, that I don't think she fully realized that her daddy and little brother would not be joining us...until the night before we left. She gave a big hug to her Brady and told him how much she would miss him. She held onto her daddy a very long time that night before she fell asleep and wiped away tears as her head hit the pillow. I saw the sadness in my husband's own eyes as we loaded our bags into the minivan in the wee hours Sunday morning. As our van drove down the dark streets of early morning, I was hit with such a mixture of emotions that I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as my heart strings tugged and my mind filled with guilt for leaving my little one behind.
The sadness my own husband felt was not so much because he was missing out on a vacation or even that we would be far away from him for a week, but the sadness was for the fact that another event would pass him by as he sat at home with his special little boy. Pass my son by. Missing things has been a bit of a theme for my husband and I as Brady has gotten a little bit older. There are places that overwhelm him. There are events that he can't handle. There are times he gets sick and has to stay behind. There are moments when it is just too hard to take Brady someplace. It is a difficult realization to come to. To know that there are places, things, and times that are too challenging with your very own child and instead you choose to "skip it." My husband and I are trying very hard to always give things a try with Brady. But we have also learned along this winding path of special needs parenting, that sometimes, it's ok to stay behind and let Brady be comfortable. We will never give up on trying everything...at least a little bit, but now we know it is ok to sometimes do what feels right for our little boy, even if it means missing a thing or two.
In the end, my husband and his little "Buster" had their own amazing week. A week of bonding, playing, growing and learning a little bit more about each other. Brady spent the week smiling big toothy grins and babbling. Yes...lots of babbling. He vocalized more this past week than he has in months. I know that made my husband swell with pride. I know my little boy enjoyed his "staycation" with dad. A "guys week" was just what the two of them needed and I am so proud of my husband for taking the sadness and apprehension he was feeling and turning it into a week of so many memorable moments with his son.
My daughter Molly shined this past week. She was relaxed and enjoyed the salty water and big waves of the Atlantic Ocean. She danced and danced and won big trophies taller than her. She played and swam and relished being a seven year old little girl with her best friends. She enjoyed her vacation. Me? I loved every minute with my daughter. We were embraced by our friends and adopted into their own loving families this week. We did fun vacation type activities, spent hours watching amazing performances, laughed lots and even relaxed. I loved watching my daughter enjoy vacation. As I watched my daughter dive into the rolling waves, I decided this was just a taste of a family vacation...just a little bit. I have already started counting down to next year's Nationals, as I know in my heart it will be a true family vacation, complete with one dance loving daddy and a very proud little brother.