Forty-eight corn dogs gone in seven days. Three square meals and two snacks daily. The constant nagging of the children that reside in my household. Messes in every room twenty-four hours per day. Three children to keep satisfied all summer long.
Where is the sanity in that? Perhaps summer sanity is impossible for any parent, not just the parent of a child with special needs, but how in the world does a family of three young children rip through forty-eight corn dogs in a mere seven days? Look out Sam’s Club … summer is here! Your sixty-two count box of fruit snacks is not safe here. The kids are home, the house is a crazy hot mess and summer is just beginning.
I’m sure your reading this blog post … just waiting for me to give you the secret to summer sanity. I know you wish that there was some other Mom out there, who is just a few steps ahead of you that has it all together and has unlocked the secrets, is just waiting to light the way for others like you, and is feeling already run down as we approach the middle of June with still at least a solid month and a half before everyone returns to school and life begins to stabilize once again.
I wish I could say I had the answer for you, but I’ve got to say, I am by no means, Albert Einstein. I’m just another mom, possibly two steps ahead or even six steps behind the next. I will say that I’ve maintained my sanity for the last seven summers by just being the everyday mom I’ve always dreamed of being. I’ve never once let the fact that I have a child with special needs keep me locked away inside all summer because it’s just “too hard” to take my family out or I just don’t want to deal with the “public eye” while out and about. I’ve always fought to be the normal mom with the not-so-normal children, sitting amongst the others, praying to go unnoticed, surrounded by well-behaved children in their clean summer dresses and polo tops—neatly ironed—with their clean hands and faces. That is, until, my child suddenly screeches at the top of his lungs because he cannot handle the voice of the coffee-maker shouting out “Venti White Chocolate Macchiato.” Who could blame him? The word Macchiato in itself is enough to drive you over the edge and Venti? What does that even mean? (It actually means “twenty,” meaning twenty ounces in size. Who knew?!?) Either way, it can drive one purely insane to take a special needs child out in public. And in the summer time, with the intense heat, it’s just the perfect recipe to instant insanity.
Somehow, I’ve become sane by driving myself and my family completely insane. I’ve done some pretty “out there” things that most special needs family wouldn’t dare try to pull off. Like that twenty-eight-hour car drive to see my family in Virginia because I just had to take my kids to see the ocean. Or the four-day camping trip I took with my three kids because if the mother of two typical kids that invited me could hold down the tent, then so could I. Or the day we went to A Day Out with Thomas and left the house at 3 a.m. because my special needs son just had to be the first one through the gate. We ended up being so early that he got to help the special event crew set up cones in the parking lot since we had two whole hours before the next car would even enter the parking lot and another three before the gates would open up.
I can only explain how the above, completely chaotic events could be the secret to summer sanity by stating the obvious … Perhaps the secret to summer sanity is being driven to insanity first.
Yes, that’s definitely it. I’m sure you cannot define the sanity in those insane events I’ve listed, but I can. Sanity is watching your children step foot on the same sands that your parents took you to every year and seeing the look on their faces as they watch the waves rush in for the very first time. Sanity is knowing that you can endure four full days of sleeping in a tent and bathing in a lake just like any other family on a camping trip, so you can watch the tent of your children in the dark as you hear one of them say “This is way better than the tents that Dad makes for us on the couch in the living room with our blankets!” Sanity is watching your son happily drive around in a golf cart, wearing an official Thomas the Train Special Event Crew vest because a nice man intervened when my son was having the meltdown of all meltdowns because the gates were still locked. Sanity is seeing the beauty in your children when you allow them to enjoy life at the mercy of your patience, nerves and biggest fears.
So I invite you all today to embrace the insanity of summer, as it is a sure sign that you will soon be approaching summer sanity. When it’s all said and done, when the meltdowns have ended and everyone stops staring at you because you finally leave the premises, you will be left with great memories, unforgettable experiences and knowing that if you could get through this one challenge, you can definitely handle the next. That will certainly make the chaos and summer craziness just melt away.
Enjoying the insanity of summer sanity,
Michelle O., AHSS Skills Coach and Mother of a Special Needs Child Plus Two