All in the Family

We don’t get to travel very often because… well… there’s the cost (and we don’t have a lot of discretionary money – for obvious reasons – we have two (2) affected by autism) among our 6 kids and then there’s the even harder issue of… with whom do we leave our kids when we go anywhere? The truth is… trust comes hard with our circumstances.

You know what I’m talking about, right?

Going somewhere away when you have 6 kids is hard enough. But then try adding in to the mix the fact that 2 of them are affected by autism and it CAN be difficult at times and adds a whole new layer of difficulty.

We, however, like many of you I’m sure, have been blessed with the type of family and friends that gives us hope that we can – at least for a few days – get away and leave our cares behind.

Our last trip we took just as a couple was our first since having a diagnosis way back in 2003. Because it was my wonderful wife and my 20th anniversary in 2011, we reluctantly made arrangements to leave all the kids behind and took a few days to celebrate. Needless to say, we couldn’t have done it without the help of friends and family, specifically Karen and Steve, who took our 3 year-old typical twins and kept them safe and sound. And then, there is my Mom, who has tried harder than anyone I’ve ever met, to understand, support and encourage us through raising our two boys affected by autism who took care of all the rest of the kids while we vacationed.

Still, we frequently fretted and probably – due in no fault to anyone else’s inadequacy – but more to my subconscious concern for others safety and comfort – I REALLY didn’t relax like I know I should have.

This time however, my wife and I noticed we vacationed different. My oldest son, Alek (21) not only agreed to watch ALL the kids, but in doing so, said, and I quote, “Go, have a great time. I got this, Dad. We’ll have a great time together.”

Initially, “fret man” tried to take over my mind, but every time I felt a bit of possible stress, I was reminded of the maturity of Alek and my other son, Zak (19) with whom we left all the kids.

Seriously, I was a bit shocked that the concern melted away as I reviewed “worst case scenario” type of events that were possible and concluded that they were both mature, problem solvers and more than capable of understanding and managing all our kids with love and kindness.

Did you just hear that? Two older brothers with whom you can trust to manage, understand and treat the rest of their brothers – and their one little sister – with love and kindness? Holy Crap!

As I fly home from my vacation with my wonderful wife I am compelled to blog a special “Thank You” note to my family – specifically, to my two oldest sons, Alek and Zak. If anyone has ever been more grateful and proud of his kids than I and my wife are right now, I can imagine tears flowing.

All too often, we take for granted those that add SO MUCH joy to our lives. Don’t get me wrong – NOT the joy that we receive because we get to go on a vacation, but the joy that comes with knowing we can RELY on others and know that THEY love our families enough to sacrifice their time and energy for our families. I suggest we take a few minutes to tell them how we feel about them and the immense amount of joy and the uncommon impact they have on our lives through their service to us and our families.

And to you parents out there who are in similar situations as us, I want you to know… IT’S WORTH IT!

Our two boys affected by autism are now 13 and 16 and KNOW they are loved by many.

Work hard, love hard, care hard. Never stop trying to make ALL your kids feel loved and maybe someday, you’ll wake up and find you’re surrounded by extraordinary people who know how to love and how to serve and KNOW that loving and serving is the greatest expression of humanity you can share with others.

I LOVE my family and this is my long-winded way of sharing that with you.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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