When I was growing up, I remember my mom going on “girls trips” with her sister, my aunt. They would take weekend trips to St. Louis, Nashville, wherever they wanted to go. This was in the days before smart phones, laptops, etc. It was the phone hanging in the kitchen and that was it. She would call occasionally to let us know she was alive, but that was about it. I have always wanted to be able to do that with my best friend. And now we are!! One of my very best friends in the world is my niece, Angela. She is my sister’s child and she is only 5 years younger than me. We grew up together, we talk/text almost daily, we celebrate holidays together, we share secrets, and we laugh…a lot. She is my go to person when I am feeling down, frustrated, happy, excited, etc. Everyone needs that person outside of their marriage/relationship. Angela is mine. We had decided we would take one of these trips in 2018, but there were reasons we had to postpone. So, 2019 it is and we leave in two days! We are headed to New Orleans to see my brother and sister in law and to experience some new sights, an airboat alligator ride (Woo Hoo!!), food, and drinks (I promised my sister in law I would try a New Orleans Bloody Mary, I can’t promise I will like it.)
As time to leave gets closer, my anxiety is increasing. There are so many things to double check and I want to make sure Brandon’s every minute is taken care of, which is, of course, impossible. It doesn’t happen when I am here, so what in the world would make me think it would when I am not here? I am feeling some feelings of selfishness. This trip is about me and spending time with family that I don’t see nearly enough. Steve is wonderful. He is happy I am going with Angela. He knows how much she means to me. He knows how much I need a stress free break from our reality. Sometimes, we have to take care of ourselves and that is what I am going to do.
My mom always made lists before we would go on vacation. Lists were her friend and would ensure we forgot nothing (although, it seems we always did). My list looks a bit different than mom’s. Here’s what I have so far:
– Who is getting Brandon off the bus?
– Is there enough medicine for while I am gone?
– Is there enough food in the house?
– Does J have anything going on at school?
– Does Steve have all the necessary numbers (Doctor, school, Case Manager, support worker)?
– Did I let the school and case manager know I would be out of town?
– Does Steve know A’s work schedule in case he needs A for Brandon duty?
– Can I squeeze in a haircut before we go?
– Follow up with friends to make sure they check on Steve as Brandon can be a bit exhausting when it’s just you and him.
– Laundry has to be done for everyone.
– Am I going too soon? We are just now coming out of the Mario Kart obsession and I don’t want Brandon to regress.
I have not been away, by myself, for enjoyment in years. Years. My list is stressing me out a bit. I am 99% certain I have everything taken care of on the above list. But I am also certain I have forgotten some things. Will Steve know what to do if the case manager needs to be contacted? Or the support worker? The short answer is, of course he will know what to do. He is Brandon’s father and loves Brandon as much as I do. And he is the best husband/father ever. However, I am the one who takes care of those things on a daily basis. This is my full time job (I may not get paid monetarily for what I do, but I am constantly working). Will Steve do as well as I do? Probably. Will he forget things? Yes. Why? Because he does not handle these things on a daily basis. He relies on me to keep our house running and to ensure that everyone gets where they need to be. That’s been our dynamic for the past 6 years since I stopped working outside of the home. And it works well for us. But now I need to trust that, yes, he will do things differently, he will forget some things, but they will all be okay.
And then I again think back to my mom and aunt’s girl trips. Mom left lists for my dad and I. I am the youngest child and my older siblings were out of the house by then. Did my dad and I do everything on the lists? Nope. We may have even eaten out more that we should have. Laundry may have been sidelined and I am certain neither of us cleaned like my mom did. But we survived.
I was talking with Angela about my list and she has lists, too. She keeps hers in her head (she remembers things much better than I do). Her kids are involved in sports, school activities, youth group, etc. And she has to make sure her husband knows all of the information she knows. We have both asked ourselves if they will manage without us for a few days. The answer, of course, is yes they will. But they will all be happy to have us back home.
My mom’s lists were different than mine and mine are different than Angela’s. Autism adds a wrinkle to my process, but basically, I am like any other mom trying to get away for a few days. And this summer, when Brandon goes to camp for a week (there’s lots and lots of lists for that), Steve and I are taking a vacation and we will NOT feel bad or guilty about it. Well maybe just a little.