XtraGram: Real stuff you won't find on IG, FB & Twitter

 

I’m packing: pajamas, stuffed animals, sunscreen, books and bug spray.

 

Soon we’ll dodge the 100-degree Texas heat and embark on the Family Vacation.

 

Minus a family member.

 

This is shaping up to be one of those big years I’ve heard other moms of children on the autism spectrum talk about: “It doesn’t get easier. It just gets different,” they say.

 

My brilliant son, almost eight years old now, is like most autistic kids in that he needs routine and structure.

 

Summer is the antithesis.

 

Every year I see June coming like a wrecking ball.

 

Two years ago we tried the beach. Strolled the boardwalk to an Italian restaurant.

Noodles arrived at our table curly (not straight, like we eat at home).

 

Different Pasta.

 

Plates went flying.

 

My brother’s kids who were vacationing with us were crying. They quickly exited in search of snow cones. We spent the next hour trying to calm my son.

 

Ixnay On The Vacay for the next two summers. We didn’t give up. It was just too stressful to travel as a family.

 

Now here we are. With two curious little girls who’ve heard this RUMOR about summer: Stay up late catching fireflies? Popsicles? Meet Mickey Mouse?!?!

 

For the first time, my daughters are old enough to recognize that their summers haven’t quite fit that idyllic mold.

 

A few weeks ago, my in-laws graciously offered to host my son for a few weeks at their Tennessee farm. I knew he’d have a blast at Grandparent Camp: swimming, gardening, cooking, but within well-defined routines and fixed schedules. 

 

My husband and I felt as if we’d been handed a golden ticket to SUMMER.

 

SUMMER, with our daughters untethered to early bedtime (when the meds make him crash), and therapy ride-a-longs, and meltdowns that require earplugs, and medication schedules, and hospital waiting rooms, and the same day after day we uphold because we love and adore our son, but know he requires more.

 

So (finally!) here’s to the dog days. And to our first almost-family vacation.

May my daughters know the joy of spontaneity and the wanderlust that breezes in when we split my son from the picture.