Our Five Ring Circus: We Went On A Family Trip...And Left One of Our Kids At Home

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

We Went On A Family Trip...And Left One of Our Kids At Home

Why We Went On A Family Trip And Left One of Our Kids At Home

Before we became parents, there were so many things my husband and I said we would NEVER do as parents. Even after we had children, we still had quite a few things on that never list. We quickly learned to never say never because life happens. And this weekend we did something on our never list...we went on a family trip and left one of our children at home!

I remember rolling my eyes when people would talk about how they went on a trip with just one child and left the other child at home. Even though I considered myself to be an open-minded person, I was still acting a bit judgmental at times. But I simply couldn't fathom leaving one of my children behind.

Grant and I have a fine-tuned parenting style. Once we were outnumbered, we learned that the best method was to "divide and conquer." We work together to make things happen, and that often means splitting up our kids and going separate ways, or taking turns doing things with our children. Leaving one of our own behind was never a decision we had to make.

I was recently given the amazing opportunity to take my family to an indoor waterpark for two days (which I can't wait to share with you)! As the trip drew closer, my husband and I began to question whether we should take Liam or not. Although we believe in full inclusion for Liam, there are certain situations that are a bit more difficult with him. 

The truth is, Liam requires a lot of attention. We simply cannot sit back and relax, and let him do his own thing. He likes to run off and explore, so we have to stay with him at all times. Unfortunately, his tiny size would have kept him from quite a few of the main attractions, so Grant and I would have to go in two different directions.  Since this was essentially a work trip, we knew Grant would have to do most of the parenting in this situation.

We didn't know what to do, even after weighing the pros and cons. We felt awful even considering leaving Liam behind, but that was the sensible choice. But still, the guilt consumed us, and we kept second guessing our decision.

In the end, the decision was cinched for us. Liam ended up getting a stomach virus that caused explosive diarrhea, so there was no way we could take him to a water park. He ended up staying with his beloved Papa and Nana, while the rest of us packed up and headed to a neighboring state for two days of fun!

When we first arrived, the guilt slapped us right in the face. As we walked through the doors, and into paradise, the first thing we saw was an amazing toddler pool that Liam would have loved. And for the first time in 4 1/2 years, we didn't stop. Instead, we turned, and headed straight to the wave pool...and the first person we saw playing in the waves was a little girl rocking an extra chromosome. 

Even though we knew Liam couldn't be there if he was sick, it still felt like a piece of us was missing. But the place was amazing, and Dylan, Lexie and Lily were so excited to be there, so we were determined to have fun! And it just so happened to be EXACTLY what we needed as a family.

Grant and I spent two days bonding with our first three children. Although we wouldn't change anything ever, the realization of just how much our lives revolve around Liam hit us hard. Dylan, Lexie and Lily are incredibly loving and supportive siblings, but they needed time with just us. They needed our attention, without the usual distractions, or the chaos of our daily routine.

We explored the indoor water park as a family. We raced each other on the water slides, and relaxed in the hot tub. Grant and I were able to spend quality time with each of our children individually, we were able to let our guard down and relax, and we even got to go on a water ride together.

Our kids are growing up so quickly, but for two days, we were able to freeze time for a bit and forget about the outside world. We were able to fully enjoy our three older children and we could clearly see the incredible human beings Dylan, Lexie and Lily are growing up to be. I credit much of that to them having a sibling who has special needs.

 Even though Dylan is an elusive teen, and quickly made new friends over the weekend, he still made time for his parents and siblings, and he smiled more often than usual. But above all else, he has an immense love for his baby brother. Many times throughout our trip, he said, "I wish Liam was here" and "I feel bad that Liam isn't having fun with us." He may drive me crazy at times, but Dylan is fiercely loyal to his family, and knows that it's what matters in life.

We were wowed by Lexie's grace and maturity. She treasures family above all else, and has no problem showing the world that she loves her parents. She wants to be with us, and she thrived with all the attention. I was mostly amazed by how confident and independent Lexie is becoming. Our previously cautious girl had no problem running off to explore her favorite attractions on her own and just being herself. She is wise beyond her years, and worries about everybody, so it was great to see her laughing and acting so carefree!

And Lily. I realized our sweet Lily is no longer a baby, and that made me sad. She was so young when Liam was born that they just kind of grew up together. She probably got the least amount of attention, yet she is so fierce, confident, courageous, self-assured, independent, and loving. She surprised us this weekend with her maturity and confidence, and of course, managed to make us laugh at her hilarious antics. She is one tough cookie, and we are so proud of her! And she, too, was glowing from all the time Grant and I spent with her!

Although we missed our sweet boy fiercely, it was exactly what our family needed to do.  We made valuable memories on this trip, and we showed Dylan, Lexie and Lily that they are every bit as important as their little brother, even if he does require the most attention. They matter and they are loved very, very much. 

While we were gone, Liam was living it up with his Papa and Nana! He got them all to himself, he played with his aunt's dogs, he spent time with another aunt and his cousins, and he spent an afternoon playing with his Papa. When I arrived to pick him up, he gave me a hug right away, but didn't want to leave. I think he had his own little vacation that he enjoyed very much! (And his belly was feeling much better!)

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We definitely will be returning to that water park one day with Liam...just when he's a few inches taller and a bit less poopy!

So yes, we left one of our children at home while we went on a family trip. Being a special needs parent is difficult, and sometimes we just need to let our guard down for a bit, no matter what it takes. Sometimes we just need to make time for our other children, and our other children only. We felt guilty, we questioned our decision, but above all else, we knew it was the right decision.  And all six of us had a great experience, just in different ways!

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Stay tuned for our fun family trip recap, that just might include an awesome giveaway for one of you! (Pittsburgh and Ohio friends, this one's for you!)


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  1. So fun to get away for a little!!! I'm sure you felt guilty leaving Liam but I think you made the right choice! He will love it when he gets to come back though!

    1. Thanks, Lizzie! We had a great time, and will definitely go back with him one day!

  2. Aw, Stefanie, I love this post! Parenting decisions are so hard to make sometimes, but I am so glad that your weekend turned out fabulously for all of you. You have such an amazing and special family, for sure! And look how happy Liam looks in that photo after a weekend alone with his grandparents! Thank you so much for sharing and for being so open about it all.


    1. Thank you so much, Shelbee! I know the decision ended up being made for us, but I know some people may not agree with my line of thinking in the first place. It worked our very well for our family, though!

  3. Oh how fun! I'm happy you guys had a great time and it sounds like Liam had a blast getting one-on-one attention from his Nana and Papa. I love getting one-on-one time with my Henry. I get Eliza to myself all day while Henry is at school, so it's rare that it's just ever the two of us, but when it is, it becomes such a special occasion. Good job on letting go and for teaching us Mamas that it's okay to leave. Can't wait for the trip recap!

    1. Thank you so much! I tried to thank of it that way, but sometimes it's hard to get past the mom guilt. He would have had a great time with us, but I know he had a great time getting his grandparents, aunts and cousins all to himself!

  4. I love that you knew what was best for your family. And while, yes, Liam should be included in all things (as you usually do) it's good to have some time with just the big kids. And I know he had a blast being the center of attention while you are gone.

    1. You are 100% right! It's just hard to get past that mom guilt, even if it was the correct decision!

  5. Awe, so glad you guys had a nice time and I know those big kids enjoyed it. It is hard sometimes leaving the little one behind, we've done that before and I know that exact same feeling of mom guilt. BUT then I realize my big kids need me too and it's okay to do things with just them on occasion.

    1. I didn't realize just how much they needed that attention until we went. They never complain, so I am glad we were able to focus on just them for a few days!

  6. Whenever I go away without my kids I think about all the things they would have loved to see! But I think sometimes you have to do that to appreciate them more, and for you, to have more time for the other kids.

    1. I agree! I truthfully didn't realize just how much we focus on Liam until we went away without him. There's nothing wrong with that...we do everything we can to help him thrive...but I realized that sometimes we need a little break!

  7. What a fun time! We have an indoor water park being built about 25 minutes from our house and we are counting down the months so we can go!

    1. Oh, that is awesome, Lindsay! I'm sure your kids will love it!

  8. Aw, I can't wait to see your post about the actual water park. That's great you had a wonderful time and could spend more quality time with your other three kiddoes! I'm sure it was tough leaving Liam behind, but it sounds like it worked out for everyone - Liam included!! :)


  9. I can totally feel the struggle y'all went through just by reading the post. I am so happy things played out the way they did and that it was just the time away that your sweet family needed.


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