Part Three in the "Extended Family Beach Vacation" series. You can read part one here. And part two here.
Today is Wednesday. We leave on Saturday morning for our big family trip to Florida. You know I am more than a little worried about pretty much every facet of this trip. Actually, I think the word "worried" is an understatement. Let's review the facts:
- We have never been on a trip longer than two days since we became a family of four. That's three years of weekend trips only. Three years of mostly unsuccessful weekend trips.
- Our little RADish thrives on routines. And even then the chaos is lurking right around the corner.
- Both of the boys pretty much have absolutely no ability to entertain themselves in any way.
- I am really really tired of riding in the front seat while my body is twisted around tot he back so that I can hold on to one kid to stop him from hurting the other kid. I am seriously too old for that.
- We have never successfully navigated a night at a hotel as a family of four. Although I have a friend who was just mentioning some sort of "noise violation" she may have received on a recent hotel stay, thanks to her kids, so maybe our overnights haven't been so bad...
- We seem to travel with an entire zoo of stuffed animals. This is not really a problem, I just find it really really annoying.
So we have planned, and then planned again, and then threw out the plan and started over with all the planning. We have thought through every possible scenario. "What if a zombie apocalypse comes and we can't get the youngest on board with running away as fast as we can?" Oh yeah, we have a plan for that.
Which brings me back to today. It is now Wednesday. We leave on Saturday. My desire to take this trip rises and falls with the moods and behaviors of my youngest son. Earlier in the week? Dreading the trip. Last night I deposited my beloved children into their father's hands while I got my hair done and shopped for beach toys. Alone. So today the dread is lifting. Excitement is starting to build. Maybe we can do this. After all, we have:
- rented a car with three rows, so that the RADish can freak out all he wants without being able to actually touch anyone.
- loaded two iPads with games and movies and thrown out all rules about electronics in the car. these iPads will be turned on before we even leave the driveway.
- also thrown out all rules about eating in the car. snacks, snacks, and more snacks. if he is eating, maybe he won't be screaming.
- purchased large, round, totally dangerous longer lasting suckers. hopefully these will serve a dual purpose- both in keeping mouths quiet and in providing the sucking motion that helps my youngest regain regulation. unfortunately, once he is dis regulated it is very hard to bring him back, and he refuses to take the needed "sensory breaks" to keep his system regulated. I'm hoping to trick him into this with the suckers.
- put a plan in place for bedtime in the hotel, on our way to Florida and back. a cocktail for me in the hotel lobby while I play games with my oldest son and wait for the "he's asleep" text to arrive from my sweet husband.
- thrown out all my planning for fun on the way. I have given up and not purchased little treats to be lovingly handed out at certain points of the trip- 50 miles, when we count 10 red cars... these games, while fun, always end badly and my husband has pleaded with me to not put too much planning into making this trip fun. our new motto?
"Let's just get through this!"
I am confident that once we get to our destination we will encounter a whole new set of challenges. And we will take it one day, one hour, one minute at a time. We will simply do the next thing. A very good friend of mine recently used that phrase when describing a difficult time in her life. And I agree. We will make memories that will last a lifetime, and my little guy will have so much fun. He will dig in the sand, swim in the ocean, ride on a boat, eat ice cream.... Hopefully spending an entire week with his extended family will allow the love we all have for him to seep into his battered little soul.
Yesterday I watched my youngest son wind himself up while the dishwasher repairman was in our kitchen. He was hyper active with excitement, jumping around and generally getting in the way. After a few comments from the repairman my momma bear kicked in and I found myself fiercely protecting this child of mine. This same child who drives me to the edge of sanity on a regular basis. This same child who forces me out of the house every single night at bedtime. Who at times rages so hard he lashes out at me, physically. Who, when angry, follows me around the house, purposely trying to upset me so that I turn on him, proving to him that he is right about love and filling the room with the negativity he is so comfortable around. I can cry, scream at my husband, wake up in the middle of the night worrying, leave my bed to join him in his, because while he is sleeping I have the rare opportunity to just "be" with him, without him getting so hyper he pulls away. Yes, I have earned the right to all of these actions and feelings. But no one outside of our small circle has those rights. And especially not a repairman passing through our kitchen.
Every time I feel these protective feelings kick in I am flooded with peace and the knowledge that I can do this. I can get through today. I can get us all through two days on the road. I can enjoy a week with family on a beautiful beach. I can do it, one day, one hour, one minute at a time. I can just do the next thing.