I am having an internal battle with some recent realizations Sean and I have had. First of all, I know that every family is different and no one can know what it is like to be in another's family. Ours is just the same...unless a family deals with the same things we deal with and has a child with special needs and another with medical needs while the 3rd has sensory and social issues, they won't understand why we make the decisions we make. I still am battling though...I battle with how it looks when we make certain choices...what will people think?!
It's ridiculous, I know this! I know that I love my kids beyond words and I do what is right for them and our family. So why do I care what other people may think of us? I don't know. I just don't want people to think poorly of us, I guess. It's silly.
All of this to get to the point. We have slowly started to realize that our constant exposing Cason to certain things has become an issue. We thought it would improve, he would grow accustomed to the sensory overload that comes along with lots of public places, restaurants, museums, zoos, etc. We were wrong...it has gotten worse. His meltdowns have become more inconsolable, louder, screaming and hitting himself in the face is something he has taken up. He claws all over us and acts as though he just wants to crawl out of his own skin. The zoo in Des Moines a couple of weekends ago was the final straw. It was bad. He cried...almost the entire time. He was terrified of the animals, the sounds, the crowds. He didn't want to walk, he didn't want to be held, he didn't want to be in the stroller, he didn't want to be there. Period. This made the evening less enjoyable for all of us. We couldn't relax and enjoy our time because Cason was so upset. Nothing calmed him down.
It was after leaving the zoo that Sean and I realized that we cannot keep doing this. We just can't. It is not the reality of what works for our family, for Cason, for Tate and Wesley. It isn't fair to anyone.
This realization made me so sad.
I want to do things as a family of 5, but the big boys are able to do so much more now, they enjoy lots more things that Cason finds terrifying. He wants to be in a more private setting, some place less chaotic with less stimulation.
There are definitely certain settings that work for Cason during outings and travel and we fully intend on taking advantage of doing things that Cason will learn from and enjoy, but many of those things aren't enjoyable for the big boys and they need to be exposed to things as well.
We had our first vacation as a family of 5 planned in July. The first time we would all go away somewhere together, just the 5 of us. Our trip to Colorado is something we have been looking forward to for a while now. We have lots on the agenda that the big boys will LOVE and as we got to thinking about the trip, we realized that most of those adventures, while they are things we are able to bring Cason along on, will be experiences Cason will not enjoy at all! I think the thought of not bringing Cason on our family vacation entered my mind a long time ago, but I pushed it out of my mind knowing that this was a family vacation and so our whole family NEEDS to go...we will just deal with it. It's our reality.
You see, it could be our reality...bring Cason along with us and deal with his freak outs, understand that this is our family and it's what we have to do. OR, realize that bringing him along in these situations isn't beneficial to anyone. The big boys have to sacrifice...we leave places early, I have to stay back with Cason sometimes, we have added stress, we don't go to certain places that will be uncomfortable for Cason or that we will waste money going to knowing that no one will enjoy it with a screaming child in tow. Also, Cason sacrifices being in a comfortable situation with people he loves in a setting that he enjoys. I hate seeing Cason so worked up and upset. It has become clear what the obvious decision is to be the most beneficial to all of us. We just cannot bring him EVERYWHERE with us any longer. This realization makes me so sad. I WANT Cason to enjoy these experiences and I WANT to be with our little family as much as possible...I don't want to leave a child behind. I love being with Cason, but I don't like seeing him miserable and I don't like our big boys not being able to experience certain things because Cason cannot participate. It's not good for any of us.
We are SO BLESSED to have such an amazing village of people who love our boys and who are willing to care for Cason in these situations. So we decided we would see if anyone would be willing to keep our Sweet Cason while we go to Colorado in a few weeks and finding people was no problem! Lora and James, Sarah and Mike didn't hesitate and I know Cason will be so loved and spoiled while he is with them!
I am working on being okay with leaving Cason behind, with understanding that this family dynamic is much different than I had always dreamed before having a family. However, I wouldn't change my family for the world...I wouldn't trade any of my kids for any other situation. This is our reality and our family and what works for us and God gave my these boys and also gave us this incredible village of family and friends...it all works. It is just how it is supposed to be. Maybe in the future Cason will be able to join us on more adventures, but for now, if necessary, we know we have lots of loving arms that will keep him while the other 4 of us are gone!
God's plans are often different than our own, but His plans are perfect.