If you haven't joined the face book group for my blog, please do so. I am trying to do at least one short daily update while we are on the road trip to keep everyone up to date on where we are and what adventures we are having.
I have so many fun and fabulous pictures to share and I can't wait to show you them all. We are having such a wonderful trip and so many wonderful family moments have happened. One of the best so far was the countless conversations that we have had about life and its amazing how deep you can go with one another when your in the same vehicle together for endless hours! I don't think that we could have gotten that at home quite the same when it seems that much of life is everyone moving at the speed of light in 30 different directions! What a blessing this time has been. Just time all together.
Yes there have been some really rough moments. One of the worst was when we stopped at a fruit stand somewhere in no where California. Robert and I ran in to buy some nuts and fruit for car snacks and in the moments that we were gone two of the kids got into a scuffle in the van. We hadn't even used the new dual screen DVD player that we brought. Robert and I let the kids know that we would have the kids in the front watch something first, then we would pass it back to let the kids in the back watch the TV screens so that everyone got a turn and no one was struggling to get a good view. Just the way the van is set up it isn't possible to see from all seats really well. We had been rotating the kids from the back to the front seats. In the front two rows we have most of the car seats which leaves individual seats where you aren't sharing the space because next to you is a car seat. The oldest six kids always want these three spots so we decided that we have two different configurations in the van so that everyone gets equal time in the good spots. Well anyhow... the kids in the back started to argue about what movie to watch and it turned into a debate, then a screaming match and then fists were thrown. Two kids took off out of the van and all this happened in mere minutes that we were out of the van. Now before I get rude comments about leaving the kids in the van- we have an adult child with us that is perfectly capable on most occasions with handling things for a few minutes. Not this time though! The day was really long and really rough with one of the kids apologizing and moving forward and the other stewing and making it a terrible day for everyone. Well at least trying to ruin things for everyone. We all did our best at ignoring him and trying to carry on having fun and good conversation without letting him drag us into his drama.
About sending a child home from the trip...
I know that I don't need to justify my parenting choices to anyone and I don't really much care what people think of the choices that I make. I have really truly amazing children that are nice people and they all have overcome hurt, early trauma, and transitions. With the exception of Izzy, all of my children, INCLUDING my biological child- have experienced LOSS and trauma at an early age. This is a level playing field for one and all. Two of my children deal with life MUCH better when they have a lot of down time to themselves. The decision to send them home early if needed isn't a PUNISHMENT. Its a PLAN. A plan that we all made together WITH the THERAPIST who is an expert on trauma and attachment. They wouldn't be leaving the trip to go to boot camp, or a terrible place, they are going to a friends house where they would have FUN. Both of these children desperately want to be with us on this trip but this is a great deal of pressure on them to be together all of the time. We can't leave them at the time share for the day while we are out and about. That's just far too much time. We are being as creative as possible to make sure that they get time alone- to read etc. They crave and need this time and fare MUCH better when they get it each and every day. Its not easy for them and not easy for us and both had a massive amount of anxiety about coming on this trip knowing the countless hours together in the van and together doing activities. One is doing better than I ever could have imagined and one is having a really hard time. Yes, we are encouraging both children that they can do this, that they can make it on this trip, that its going to be good for them. But in reality having a back up plan and letting them have an OUT in comforting to them, its not threatening to them.
It was a big wake up call to learn about the tragedy in Connecticut. We were driving through the passes and heard on one of the Christian stations we were listening to that there were several children taken to the hospital and they did some prayers live on the radio. Robert and I looked at one another and I got on my phone and tried to find out what was going on while we changed the radio station so that we didn't scare the younger kids. Horror. Horror for the 27 victims and their families and loved ones, horror for the mental health community, horror for the town, horror for the country, horror for the world. How in the world could someone do something like this? Its inconceivable to even wrap your head around. What is the connection? What is the motive? What was the point?
The wake up call was being a Mom of children with severe and serious mental health issues. Damn it. I don't want my kids to have problems. I want them to be OK. I don't want to have back up plans for family vacations. I don't want to worry that they would ever hurt themselves or someone else. I don't ever want to worry that they would have access to a firearm. I don't want to be that Mom that can't just enjoy her kids all the time. I want them to be OK, just fine, and happy and living life with all the wonderful things that they have inside of them. But the reality is that we are living and dealing with flawed mental health care. I have read and heard terrible things about "locking up" people with mental health problems, about "killing them all" before they kill us, etc. The ignorance is unreal.
It is my hope that in all this good things will come, possible change for the families and children and adults who need help and haven't been able to get it. That is my prayer.