Sunday, March 6, 2011


Instead of writing something poignant (ha!) or witty (right!), I could use a little help from you Hopeful Parents out there.

The other half is getting to go to Hawaii for business next month and we had planned on the boys and I meeting him at the end of his conference for a family vacation.  We were fortunate to go to Hawaii just over a year ago as well.  It was a lovely trip, aside from the awful-ness that was trying to fly home.  M did pretty well, all in all, but in truth, he is a different child today than he was just 13 months ago.  

I thought I could handle the 5 1/2 hour flight to Oahu by myself, but after flying back home to visit relatives last week, I absolutely know that I would not be able to do that with two young children successfully.  M's sensory issues have multiplied greatly and his ability to not lash out at me (verbally and often with pinching and grabbing) has gone right out the window.  The flights to and from our visit weren't the worst flights we've ever taken, but they were also far from the best, and they most definitely filled me with more consistent stress because I was aware that he was on the verge of a (loud) tantrum at almost every moment of the flight.  

My amazing mother-in-law has offered to fly with us to Hawaii.  This would be wonderful on several accounts.  Not only would she be an extra set of hands at the airport and on the plane (allowing me to actually get out of my seat to use the bathroom, which you know is going to need to happen on a flight that long!), she would allow the other half and I to take our own time, free of the kids, if we wanted it.

But here's where I need your help...she has also offered to fly to our home in California to stay with M while the other half, my typical four-year-old, and I go to Hawaii by ourselves.  The other half won't hear of it, but I have to admit that I think it is a really nice idea.  First off, we have two other domestic trips planned this year that M will absolutely be included in.  And second, doesn't B, my typically developing child, deserve a vacation where he can go places we normally wouldn't be able to go without the constant worry that it could end at any moment based on his brother's needs?   And as guilty as it makes me feel to admit it, I could use a 'normal' vacation as well.  It would be great to eat out at a restaurant, leisurely, without worrying that M will yell, or worse, try to grab food off of another diner's plate.  (yep, that happened to us the last time we went to Hawaii)  

It is hard to imagine how looking at photos after a trip like this--with one very important family member missing--will make us feel.  Just thinking about it certainly stirs up all sorts of emotions in me.  And I know that M adores the sunshine and being at a hotel.  But would I be the worst parent in the world if I actually did take my mother-in-law up on her offer?  Have YOU ever made this sort of decision?  I would love to hear your personal thoughts and stories.  

Mama Deb attempts to make her way through life at This Is My New Normal.


  1. I have not yet had to make this kind of decision yet but I have thought of it. I think that our typical kids will never know a "typical" childhood but we can give them some typical moments. Like a vacation without their special needs sibling.
    But as I always say, you have to do what is right for YOUR family because it is your family and no one elses.
    I wish you a wonderful trip.

  2. What a great MIL! I love that she suggested either way to go... Wish I had one like her. Well, I have taken some "respite" trips alone, several trips with the whole gang, and very few with just my DH. One weekend my DH was preparing to take all the kids to his mom's for the weekend (5 1/2 hr drive) to give me some alone-time cleaning the house. One of my typical kids took me aside and whispered, "Sometimes we need a vacation from J. (SN child) too," and wished to stay home with me. I took that as absolute permission to plan some things with just the typical kids. They do need it too. And we all come back refreshed.

  3. Is it an option for you to leave both of the little ones and have some time with your husband? For me, the hard thing would be choosing to take one child and not the other. I could have a great time away with my husband and no kids - but I think that if I went with just one, THAT would be hard on me (unless I went away with just the other at another time).

  4. That's such a hard one, and one that as a Mum of one I find very hard to answer.
    What I do know is that no-one would begrudge you restorative time. It's your choice how, when and with who you take that time. You need it. We all need it.
    Sending you love.

  5. Wow, what a great MIL! Love it!
    I've got one of those too. She took Ethan last summer for several days while I joined my husband on a business trip in Hawaii. It was amazing!
    I'd take her offer to stay at home with M. If M and Ethan are anything alike, then M actually prefers the routine and sticking to the schedule over the uncertainty and possible trauma of a long flight and a week in a strange place. Don't look at it as what M is missing. Look at what B is missing instead. What grandchild doesn't relish a few days alone with grandma? Go for it, Deb. It's a win for all of you.

  6. You can also choose to view it as honouring where M is at this time in his life. Long travel is very stressful for him - you know it and are making a plan to suit his needs THIS time. Have Grandma do things withnhim that he enjoys while you are gone and make sure she takes lots of pictures. In our family we stress that each of is unique and last year we faced a similar dillema. We went somewhere without C because to take him would have been stressful for all of us and we all needed a break.

  7. I think I bring a slightly different prospective to this discussion: I grew up the typically developing younger sibling of a brother with Asperger's. As a parent now, I know that it would be difficult for me to leave a child home while taking the other on vacation. However, I can say with absolute certainty that it would have been good for me--and good for my relationships with my brother and my parents--to go on a vacation without my brother. This would have allowed some time for my parents to focus on me, and it would have allowed them to show me, by focusing on my interests and desires during the trip, that they understood that my brother had challenges and that it had an impact on me. I think that you should take your mother-in-law up on her offer to stay home with your son.

  8. I'm answering as a mom of one "nypical" child and one with non-verbal autism. If I had the opportunity, I would take my typical child and leave my special one with grandma. I truly love them both, but I think everyone would be happier. Typical child deserves some respite and attention and at least my ASD child would be much happier at home in her comfort zone. You have an opportunity here that other families can only dream about, you have someone who loves your child and you can trust completely that can help you take a break.

  9. Here's what I'd do.
    I'd take that amazing MIL up on her offer, and then, being neurotic, I'd make separate plane reservations for me and my husband. Just in case anything were to happen.
    And then...just to cover my butt and make it not about "getting away without the special needs child," I'd schedule another time where you take just M somewhere special and appropriate for him (maybe more nearby and just a night or two) and your "typical" kid gets one-on-one with his grandmother, and make it more about that, than anything else.
    I hope you go and have the best time.

  10. I think it would be a wonderful idea for M to stay home and for the rest of you to go. If he is like my son, sometimes the changes in routine etc are just too much. He'll be with a wonderful caretaker and it will be like a vacation for him as well (it always is when Grandma comes to stay!!).
    We all love our children dearly but a break from the struggles and everyday challenges is a beautiful thing. We need to take care of ourselves and our other children as well and regrouping and relaxing is necessary.
    I say go and enjoy!