In preparation for this blog, I asked people what they would like to know? What could I share? Am I answering questions that people might have? Will people agree or disagree with me? My Mom came up with the idea for today’s entry and I am excited to talk about it.
Let’s start with camping: This last weekend, we left the house at 10:30am on Thursday. Before leaving, we still had to pack and get some things in order, make sure the animals were all set, make sure everything was shut off, etc. We barely had time for vitamins, nevermind breakfast! Out the door, the guys are squished in the back with all their pillows and clothes and such. I am driving, anxiety at an all time high because I have only had too much coffee. My mind is racing: what did I forget??? Did I shut this off? Did I feed the rabbit? Do the chickens have clean water? Did I leave the dishwasher full or empty? I have to mow the lawn!
I know we are headed to Long Island and I hate driving through cities or really, any place that is heavily populated. My kids are happy as can be in the back, enjoying the ride. Listening to country music and singing along. We eventually do stop to get gas and go to the bathroom and grab some food, because Mathew has reminded me that he is STARVING. We do the things we need to do, it is really warm and we all pile back into the car to keep going. Mathew tells me if he sees deer, points out things that he thinks I should notice. Luke just hangs out, he took a nap for part of the trip, but mostly he is a silent observer of life. These guys are incredible travel mates and I still cannot believe how lucky I am to be their Mom. I get lost in the Bronx, we sit through way more traffic than my anxiety can handle, but we arrive. The drive that was supposed to take 4 hours, took a solid 6. Thankfully, my Mom had already arrived(she took the ferry…don’t worry, we took the ferry home lol) and she already checked out where everything was: the beach, the bathrooms, the water source, everything! So, we just get out of the car and both of my kids help unload the car, we figure out tent situations(rule #54232 no more than 2 tents per site). We all go to the bathroom and just like that, my kids know where to go. We walk down to the beach to check it out and we get ready for dinner.
Now, full disclosure, when we had been camping previously, Luke had always slept in the car. Reason being, he is up at an ungodly time in the morning and I didn’t think that was fair to all the other campers. This trip, Luke slept in the tent! He did so well and I was beyond proud. He was awake, but stayed quiet until a reasonable time.
My guys know the drill with camping; they each have their own sleeping bags, they bring their pillows and anything else they deem special enough for the trip and they know there is no TV, no electronics, just us, a camp fire(rule #65708543 no open fire pits, unless you rent one from them and buy the wood from them), a picnic table, maybe a deck of cards/dominos and books. They are fine with this. Luke loves to walk around and check out the campground/campers. Luke loves to see what other people are doing! He is without a doubt, my explorer. Mathew wants to help with dishes, fill up water bottles, play ball(forgot that I bought him a football this trip), play cards and prep food. They are just themselves. Sure, Luke was standing in the sun before 7am, reciting Jack Skellington lines from the Nightmare Before Christmas at the top of his lungs to his shadow and Mathew was running around yelling this or that, which means nothing unless you know him. But, I will never make an excuse for my kids. I will apologize for the volume, but not always. I want them to know that they can be exactly who they are and exactly who they are is incredible. I spend so much of my life apologizing for my inadequacies, but I never want them to do that, or feel shame for simply being.
*We did return on Sunday via ferry and everyone had a great time.*
I feel so strongly that they get to experience everything this life has to offer. This comes with some ups and downs. My Mom loves to share the story of the water slides, on the cruise ship, when we went on our Disney cruise two years ago. If you haven’t been on a cruise ship before, you must have seen pictures! It is essentially a town on the water with any and everything a kid would want on it. There was a huge water slide that you would jump on a tube and take down. You could go by yourself or with a friend. My guys had been eyeballing that thing from the moment we stepped on the ship. Anywhere you walked, people were swishing above you in a tube. I don’t remember what day, but we decided to do it. My Mom agreed that she would go with Mathew and I would go with Luke. I chose Luke, because I knew he would freak out and probably bite/scratch me(didn’t want to subject poor Grams to that treatment). If I remember correctly, we are in a long line and as we are getting closer Mathew is saying he has to go to the bathroom(that is typically his OUT), I tell him he can go when he gets done. Mat goes first, he actually gets in the tube with my Mom with no issue and it isn’t until it moves that he freaks out. Of course, Luke and I go shortly after and he starts freaking out right away. Yelling and scratching and crying, going on like I am trying to kill him. The woman who was working the rafts was incredible and she took my cues(which rarely/never happens) and I strong armed Luke into the tube and we were off! I was going down with Luke and he was screaming(half happy/half terrified) and the whole way I was thinking, “I bet Mathew loved this and will already be in line again!”. Luke and I get to the bottom and my Mom and Mat are there waiting for us. Luke gets out of the tube and yells, “AGAIN!” WHAT!?!?!? Lol Mathew decided that once was more than enough for him, but I was pumped that he did it. At least he did it! It was totally fine that he didn’t want to go again, if anything, I think it gave him the courage to try the kids water slide, with no tubes, that we couldn’t get him off the rest of the cruise haha! Luke and I enjoyed the water slide several more times during that trip and each time we would get to the end he always wanted to go again. Best part, Luke won an award for Bravest Aquaduck Rider lol
On our last night, the wonderful woman, Rowena, who was working the raft came to our cabin and presented Luke with this award. She was so proud of him and it made her week that he was so brave/happy.
I like to remember the time when my Mom and I brought Luke, Mathew and Dom(our weekend foster-brother/son) to Ramblewild to do the ropes course. This was an event put on by the Boys and Girls Club and so they closed down for 1/2 the day to cater to kids with special needs. I love when these things happen. I found out that the owner of Ramblewild has a son with special needs, so good humans all around. This one, I thought for sure that Mathew was going to be a bit of a stinker about. He woke up with that crazy look in his eyes and of course it was myself and my Mother with 3 kids. Amazingly, Mathew did really, really well. Luke and Dom did great too. This trip there were definitely some tears and we had to work through some stuff. But, we all made it out in one piece. I am grateful that it was for special needs kids. Had we gone any other day, I think things might have gone a little differently.
My Mom has seen the looks and heard people make comments about how could I make my kids do something like that?? If either of my children cry, it as though the world stops for anyone around them, excluding my Mom and myself ha! At this time in my life, I think I know my kids pretty well. Sometimes they surprise me, but in the end I do know that they are both adventurers. They love to travel, they love to feel the wind blowing through their hair and they are always up for the next thing their crazy Mother/crazy Grams throws their way. I think the most important piece to this is that they trust me and Grams unconditionally. They know that I would never have them do anything that I was not willing to do myself. Minus long car rides through cities and stupid amounts of people, I do not project my fear/anxiety/stress onto my kids. Mainly, because when we are doing these fun things, those feelings are not present in me, but also because I want them to feel whatever adventure feelings come to them!
My Mom will correct me, if I am wrong, but I think she wanted me to talk about this because so many people do not understand parenting styles or judge parenting that is not in line with their style. Don’t get me wrong, I have been known to put my judging eyes on from time to time. I also served as my Human Rights Coordinator at the school I worked at. There is a fine line. Had I not pushed my kids out of their comfort zones they would have missed out on an amazing experience(and Luke’s award!!). Mathew knows that it is not for him, and I will respect that, always. I have asked them both if they want to go back to Ramblewild and Mathew does…I cannot get a clear answer from Luke lol There is also a piece for me, as a single Mom, where I cannot always afford the things that are presented to us. Ramblewild was a free event for my guys. The cruise was a very generous gift. I will always try to accept a generous gift that is presented to my family and make the most of it. I feel strongly that kids need to try something, at least once, to experience it and decide if they like it or not. How would you know, if you never tried? I have learned that if I am open, more things present themselves. Take these moments and make them awesome!
I was reading back on what I wrote last year and one thing was very clear to me: I was in a very different space. I was hopeful and naive, open and confident, relaxed and able to let things go that would have previously driven me insane. I am still hopeful, open, and able to let a lot of things go that would have really bothered me. Things I thought that I was sure of, I am no longer sure of. As I sit here writing this, I have more questions than I do answers.
I love my Fragile X children more than ever and they have grown leaps and bounds since this time last year. They are growing into men that I am so proud of; compassionate, empathetic, caring, loving, nurturing, smart, clever, wonderful men that blow me away every single day. At the end of every blog, every fb post, every call, every text, every email, everything: we will always be a family. No matter where we go, what we do, we will do it together and we will grow and support and love one another through this journey called life.
I am my best human with these guys. I will say it until I die: they saved me. They continue to save me.
I love my Mom.