Taking some deep breaths over here this morning. It’s the last day of 1st & 3rd grade for my (not so) Littles, and I’m feeling a whole storm of emotions ranging from excitement about the possibilities, to so sad for goodbyes to some amazing teachers, to a whole lot of anxious about how we’re going to fare over the next 3 months. My heart is aching just a bit, and my stomach is in more than a few knots. Let me give you a little back story…
I tend to romanticize summer. To me, summer means camping trips, swimming all day long, riding bikes, chasing the ice cream truck, days of doing nothing but reading in bed, eating the worlds best peaches plucked right off the tree outside my bedroom window & tomatoes off the vine. In my history, it has meant easy, lazy, free form days… maybe even a little bit of boredom. (oh what I wouldn’t do for a bit of boredom!!! ;o)
As the parent of a special needs child who requires constant hyper-vigilant attention and supervision, and another child with very individual needs and desires, summer means something completely different. It means the most intense season of the year for us. It means relentless work and planning to try to keep everyone happy… or at least keep everyone from killing each other! It means no breaks. It means trying to run a business from home that supports my family, while attempting to keep the peace and be engaged. It means a loss of routine that my Autistic child thrives on in his school days, and desperately trying to create routines for our days that satisfy his needs – as parents who are not routine people. And for the past few summers it has meant whole new levels of stress and utter SURVIVIAL MODE for our family. It’s very difficult to explain the intensity unless you have intimately known and cared for someone with severe executive function challenges while balancing other priorities & responsibilities without any breaks or assistance. Our summer’s of the recent past have done nothing to live up to my idealized, romantic notions of Summer.
BUT I am full of hope! We are full of creative ideas for fun filled projects and adventurous outings. We’ve been working with an organization called OTAC (Oregon Technical Assistance Corporation – a terribly dry name for an AMAZING resource) to create a functional visual schedule system for Sam. I’ve been collecting art project supplies, science experiment ideas, and heaps loads of inspiration for cool things to do with the kids for months and months (check out my Summertime Pinterest Board!). We’ve reached out to some wonderful people to try to create a network of help with the kids (though we haven’t had too much success thus far. If you know someone who loves and has experience working with kids with special needs, please let me know!). We’ve done a whole lot of brainstorming and talking about how this summer can be so much better than the past few.
All I really want is to create happy memories with Sam, Zoë & Rob, and to have our days flow without too much stress or strife… HAPPY even! I think it’s possible… I really do. I am facing this time as a wonderful challenge to stretch my creative parenting muscles, and to work hard to overcome some of the hurdles we’ve faced in the past.
I have intentions of sharing our Summertime journey here on the blog, so please stay tuned and visit often. Oh and I cannot tell you how much I would love your input, ideas, and support! I LOVE your comments, and need all of the cheerleading I can get!
Happy Summer, my Dears.