Clay and I have what I would consider a pretty strong marriage and helm what I consider a pretty amazing extended family.
It doesn’t happen effortlessly.
Things are planned.
Things are talked out.
We run like a well oiled machine– we HAVE to.
One of the things that special needs children/children with autism need–THRIVE ON– is consistency.
So we push our egos out the way, roll up our sleeves and do what needs to be done.
In that, though, comes the danger of burnout. Of stress. Of losing touch with everything around you.
Clay and I are each others biggest cheerleaders. I TOTALLY encourage his “club meetings” (he and two other teachers getting together and doing “guy” stuff) . In turn he totally supports my time in the sewing room and the pedicure chair. Darrah too gets encouraged to get out and be with friends.
But what about Clay and I as a couple? Yeah. THAT can be rough too.
We receive 6 hours of respite a week in 2 three hour chunks. One of those chunks is an afterschool time slot that allows me to either get some household chores done….or run errands unencumbered of children. The other time slot is usually Thursdays from 5 to 8 pm. This is known as DATE NIGHT. It is untouchable time for ANYTHING else other than Clay and I leaving the home and getting out. We hold it sacred.
It’s not all fancy dinners, either. It’s just TOGETHER time.
Time to reconnect and remember WHY we got together in the first place.
To reconnect as adults
To BE us.
We may go out to eat (with coupons!) We may walk the piers at the waterfront. We may sit in a great spot and listen to podcasts. But the point is WE DO IT. And we don’t take it for granted.
But what about family time?
You know, when you have special needs in your life, spontaneity is usually NOT the name of the game.
But you now what?
Last night it was.
Furthermore, it was not OUR idea, but Jack’s.
It has been unseasonably warm here as of late, and the air quite still.
Clay and I were exhausted. We had a long day. We went through Jack’s nighttime ritual (meds,etc) and Darrah was in bed after goodnight hugs doing some reading. We settled in for some DVR’d THE SOUP and some veg out time. Mindless activity.
Because that is what we NEEDED, right?
Jack, from the other room, suddenly said:
“shoes on! Daddy! Shoes on!”
It was almost nine at night!
I sighed. Then Clay said, “Jack has the right idea.”
So, crocs on and out we go.
The night was beautiful.
Jack ran to the center of the yard and danced. A back and forth motion. Chanting: I see it I see it I see it! I see the moon!
We sat there enjoying the night air. Soon Jack found himself on the bounce-poline– He called, “TINA! TEEEEEEEEEEEEENA! bouncepoline?! ” And so I went and bounced him. All the while we chanted, “I see the moon, I see the moon, I see the moon!”
This was too much fun.
So we called for Darrah.
We all four sat under one of my HUGE quilts.
We watched Jack run in the moonlight.
We listened to Jack and Darrah laugh uproariously on the trampoline– climbing on each other.
Clay turned to me and said:
“Jack knows what’s up-
You play outside when there is sunshine and go outside to see the moon when it’s shining.”
And it’s true.
We were out there for two hours. Watching the clouds. Listening to the laughter.
Being a cuddle puddle on the trampoline.
Right before we went in, Clay hugged us all close and said, ” This is what’s important. THIS”
And its true–
It took Jack’s spontaneity to bring the family together and remind us that sometimes
you just have to dance with abandon in moonlight.