Monday, October 10, 2011

Wedding Trip Decisions

We go to the beach nearly every year.  It's about a 15 hour trip, give or take, and to minimize the stress, we break it into two nights.  Because Lily isn't completely potty trained, and because 90% of her accidents seem to happen in the presence of the soothing vibration of the tires against the pavement, we make lots of stops.  In the case of the trip to the beach, many of these stops involve high-traffic bathroom breaks where lines of women snake through busy McDonalds' and the steady whoosh of the jet-dri hand blower scares the crap out of Lily.  It can be stressful on a number of fronts. 

Ding!  Time to Potty!
First, while we're stopping sometimes as often as every hour to every hour and a half at most, it's high-traffic and long waits and we're already irritated as hell by our fellow man.  Second, by the time we get to the stop there's a sense that Lily is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off, from a potty accident standpoint.  Third, Lily doesn't necessarily go on command.  Often she pops right up and says, "I all done."  When you attempt to disagree, violence ensues.  And knowing that the next stop is another hour away, it's a fight that we really really want to win.  Nothing trips the stress trigger quicker than stopping to potty, getting "I all done" and following it up with an accident in the car seat 5 minutes back into the trip.  Finally, by the end of the first leg of the trip, Lily is almost definitely asleep.  And once she wakes up, she's awake for the night.  So if we're unable to get into the hotel and then put Lily to sleep, Lily will scream bloody murder for the remainder of the night, waking everyone in the hotel and keeping us awake until her body completely shuts down at about four in the morning and she sleeps for a couple hours prior to us getting back on the road again.

The payoff, of course, is that a full week at the beach awaits us and we (Lily included) love the ocean and the beach.  So we do it every year.  We balance the bad against the good, and the good wins, and we take the trip.

The point of all that preamble is that my wife's sister is getting married in Wisconsin at the end of this month and it's a 15 hour drive to get there.  We've reached the decision that we are going to leave Lily with my folks and take only Emma.  This is a sad decision for all of us, and wasn't arrived at lightly.  

The preamble to my defensive posturing is that we're both feeling extremely guilty about the decision.  

We already knew the negative side of the balance sheet, so when we considered keeping Lily at home, we needed to consider what the payoff was at the end of the trip, and whether the benefits outweighed the costs.

First, Emma and Lily would be the only two kids there.  My sister-in-law and her fiance were gracious enough to include our kiddos in what is, essentially, an adults-only affair.  And it's not that Lily would have had all sorts of kids to play with or anything that's at issue here, it's more that Emma and Lily were already going to have special consideration because it wasn't really a ceremony designed to accomodate young-uns.  And while Emma wouldn't miss it for the world, Lily really has no idea what it is she's even going to be missing.

Second, the payoff end result is a visit to northern Wisconsin in late October.  I'm positive I'll be charmed by the rustic setting and lake-side scenery, but again, Lily not so much.

Third, the ceremony itself, the focal point of this trip, will offer her zippo.  The church (a charming historic stave church that I personally will be really interested in seeing, but. . . you know. . . Lily not so much) isn't heated (see above regarding "late October in northern Wisconsin") and is very small, possibly standing room only for a marriage officiated by. . . (drumroll).

. . . Fourth, her mother.  My wife is going to be the minister at the wedding.  As if a cold autistic 5 year old standing in a church throughout a ceremony where she may (or may not) fervently dislike the musical selection and offer her own perseverative and charming, "I no like dat music annnnnymore!" loudly and repeatedly isn't enough, her mother will be standing a few paces away attempting to focus on providing a memorable (for all the right reasons) ceremony for her sister.  It seems in Wisconsin you can get your . . . ministers. . . certificawhatsis by mailing away to a sponsor, and my wife's sister honored her by requesting that she perform the ceremony.  So she's doing it.  But that's just another distraction for Lily, and perhaps worse, a distraction for the couple getting married.  And believe me, they get Lily and she's totally invited and welcome and all that. . . but.

Fifth, the fallback option of taking Lily there, and then staying in the room with her seems just as silly.  The point of the trip is the wedding, why drag her up there if she's not going?

Me.  Stop laughing.  It's totally me.
So my wife's sister was extremely supportive of the decision, which helped my wife's acceptance of it, and my parents very generously agreed to stay behind and watch Lily for the long weekend.  And while a big part of me feels a heavy burden of stress lifted, a nearly equally heavy burden of guilt descended at the same time.  Like when Indiana Jones places that bag of sand on the booby trap and snatches away the gold idol. . . I'm eyeballing the decision and hoping that a giant boulder doesn't roll down on top of me. 

And while I feel like NOT torturing Lily for a a weekend and making her and us miserable is still the right decision, it hurts not to have the family together; like we're betraying Lily by going off to do fun family stuff and making her stay behind because it's inconvenient.

So the benefits for Lily are 1)  Bonding time with my parents, 2)  not being tortured for 30 hours worth of driving, 3)  Not having to stand in a cold (but charming) stave church for an hour, and 4)  Getting to sleep in her own bed (or what may as well amount to her own bed).

I think we're doing the right thing.  I'm just waiting for the boulder.


  1. Its a hard thing to make a decision that you know is best for everyone in your family but yet you wish there were a better alternative out there anyway. Sigh. I've been there. I just wish I could come to a decision like this without the guilt chaser. Never easy, is it?

  2. That's why, as parents, we make the big bucks!

  3. I understand how you feel in some aspect. I used to have the same guilt trips about my dad every time I wanted to go away. I felt guilty leaving him as I was his only daughter and caregiver but by the same token it wasn't always feasible to include him in some activities. I know it's hard but in the long run it is the best decision for all. Enjoy the wedding.

  4. Jim, you are doing the right thing. With our autistic 4 year old, we balance the benefits of activity vs. the torture to us and everyone involved (including McDonald's workers and all that). Glad to see another guy blogger. This can be a bit of an estrogen-fest (sorry Lizbeth). Check out mine w/my wife (she gets way more hits than me)

  5. Katie was actually in my sister's wedding as a flower girl, when she was 5 (Katie, not my sister. This isn't West Virginia) and it actually went well. Giving her that task to do kept her focused on something. Although, it helps that K is not missing the girly gene, and enjoyed getting dressed up and having curls put in her hair, etc. I am not sure how she did during the actual ceremony, as my sister got married in the summer, inside, in front of a fireplace, so I spent the whole time willing myself not to pass out from heat stroke while playing maid or honor. BUT, I'm pretty sure she did OK ; ) But, that is K. There were things about the wedding that appealed to her. If we are at something that has nothing that appeals to her...well...yeah, we avoid those things, too.

  6. too much waiting and standing around. . . and Lily could care less about girly stuff.

  7. You are doing the right thing. When my (NT) youngest was a baby, my husband's brother got married in New York. We decided it would be easier to leave the loud, squirmy, screaming, crying, adorable, WELCOME baby at home with my parents. I just couldn't imagine a 6 hour plane ride with that kid and my autistic 4 year old. Believe it or not, my NT kid has always been much more difficult than my autie kid. We just set him up with books and a computer and he sat on the floor underneath the seats and only got bored in the end. I forgot what my point was.