Monday, February 6, 2012

A Dash of Guilt and a Pinch of Regret

So here's the scoop: next month, my husband has a business trip to Germany and Poland. After business is concluded, we figured it would be fun to join him in Europe and go to Rome to (1) visit with some friends that we haven't seen in years, except on FB, and (2) check out the sites because we've always wanted to go there. It just so happens that around that time, my 6th grader's class will be studying ancient Rome. Perfect! Nothing like connecting a textbook to real life. So what's with the guilt?

Well, we have decided not to take our youngest son with us. It was an agonizing decision and one that wasn't made lightly. Last Thursday, my MNO buddies all counseled me to not feel guilty. Honestly, it's the same advice that I would give to any one of them. However, there is still a twinge that tugs at my heart when I think of leaving one and taking the other. I know there are some who would insist on bringing their special needs child along and I say, "Bravo and kudos to you." Truly, I mean that without a hint of sarcasm. You see, somewhere along the line, I got it into my head that anything less than a superheroic effort is unacceptable. If there's a will then there's a way, right? That's always been my attitude...until now. And I feel bad. I feel bad for even thinking of leaving one of my children at home. I feel bad for not feeling bad enough. I feel bad for wanting time with my oldest son without the added responsibility of caring for a 9 year-old who isn't really 9. Do I feel bad enough to cancel the trip? No. There, I said it. And I feel bad.

There are several factors that went into our decision:

Eating and Sleeping
Our youngest son can also be a picky (and messy) eater, which is not good when you're eating out in restaurants all the time. The rest of us can always find something on the menu to eat. With him, there's no guarantee. He also likes to be in a familiar environment. He likes his bed, his room, his toys, his house, etc... He doesn't even like to spend the night at grandma and grandpa's house. Grandma and grandpa are only two hours away, which means we have the option of driving home if he absolutely will not stop screaming. We can't drive home from Italy.

Walking and Flying
When in Rome, we plan on walking alot. Our youngest son has mild cerebral palsy (in addition to other stuff) and he walks with a limp. When he's done walking, he's done. I'm also unsure if Italy has anything equivalent to the ADA, but I'm going to assume it doesn't. Let's not forget about the whole flying on an airplane thing. We have two stops before we get to Rome - one in DC and the other in Munich. Flight time and layover time will take 20 hours. (I hope the airlines serve drinks. :-) I will be traveling solo with the kid(s) as my husband will already be in Europe.  I will also be traveling solo with the kid(s) coming home as my husband could not get the same flight that we got.

Personal Care
The fact that my youngest son is not 100% potty trained is pretty much a deal breaker. Seriously. Without getting too technical, let's just say that sometimes it's an hour-long process; or sometimes there is alot of cleanup involved followed by a shower. Enough said.

I hate to admit this, but even when it's not about the money, sometimes it is. Financially, this will be a splurge, a stretch even. But it's one of those opportunities that is too good to pass up. Family vacations can be expensive, especially if an airplane is involved. Truth be told, I would hate to spend the money for him to fly halfway around the world and be frustrated and disoriented most of the trip. None of us would have a good time.

There you have it. Are they valid reasons? Yes. Are they merely excuses? Maybe. A friend of mine - who has two special needs children - asked, "Don't take this the wrong way, but would he really know what he's missing? If he's happier at home in his routine, would that serve him best?" I'm glad she brought that up because it's exactly what I was thinking, and tears came to my eyes as I was thinking it. What about my oldest son? Sure, I could have done the "fair" thing and left them both at home and be completely free of guilt. Yet, I think it will be a great experience for my oldest son to actually see one of the places that he's been studying. Would it have been "fair" to deny him this experience? Either way, it's not a fair situation, and my husband and I had to make a judgment call.

My husband's parents have graciously offered to come house sit and babysit. (Pray for them.) My youngest son will keep his routine and he'll be given the opportunity to have grandma and grandpa all to himself. I'm already doing things to alleviate my guilt like buying him some Sesame Street DVDs. I'm sure as the weeks pass I'll think of other things. In the meantime, there's lots to do. I'd better start making my list: Sesame Street DVDs? Check.

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