I have nine brothers and sisters. Most of whom are married and have kids of their own. So when we have a gathering, 20 people is a small turn out. We usually quickly add up to 40. So as this weekend approach that included my nephew’s wedding combined with a family reunion, I got a little anxious on how Courtney would handle it. Of course it isn’t the first family gathering she has gone to, but now that Alyssa is a walking, talking, bossy, demanding little toddler, handling that on top of making sure Courtney isn’t over stimulated has become nearly impossible at times. To top it off, my husband was unable to make it to the wedding reception on Sunday.
Joe and I came up with a plan to make the weekend work. Or so we thought. Then things happened that changed the agenda on Saturday so we had to do some rethinking. Trying to figure out our plan of attack started stressing me out. I even sent a text to my other sister who has a child with special needs saying I was stressed trying to figure out how to make it work knowing she would understand. I said at the beginning of this autism adventure that I was going to try to not let Courtney’s autism run our life. Not that it’s a bad thing if you do, but it was important to me not to let it. So when our new plan was to have Joe stay back with Courtney and just Alyssa and I go to Saturday’s events, my heart ached a little bit. I had made a decision that was probably best for Courtney and made my life somewhat easier, but was it what I truly wanted. Since nothing seems to go smoothly, something else came up at the last minute and we had to change our plans again. So, we were heading to a family gathering at a forest preserves as a family of four with the plan that Joe would leave to deal with something that came up on his side of the family and the girls and I would go to dinner with my family. It can take a village though to go out to dinner with my girls so I made sure my family knew that me joining them meant I needed help.
I was so frustrated when some of the changes happened on Saturday, but in the end, it really did work out for the best. I got to watch Courtney bond with her Uncle Phil as he spent 10 minutes pumping water at the water pump so she can play in it. The look on her face was priceless and you can see that it was making her uncle happy that he was able to make her so happy. Thank you, Phil!!! I got to watch Alyssa continue to have such a beautiful relationship with her grandma even though she doesn’t get to see her as often as she use to when she watched her during the week. Boy does she love her grandmas! I got to see Courtney get comfortable with her Aunt Laurie who was a HUGE help during dinner. Watching Laurie get excited that Courtney was taking her hand was beautiful. It meant so much to me. It was a beautiful day!
Now for Sunday. Thanks to the bright thinking of the mother of the groom, a while back it was decided that Savannah, our nanny, was going to be my date for the wedding reception. That way the girls could be there for part of it , I had help and when they had enough, they could go home with Savannah and I could continue hanging out with my family. About 20 minutes into the wedding reception, it was evident that it was the best decision. Courtney melted down pretty quickly and actually so did Alyssa (who fell off a chair). We each took one of them and went somewhere to calm them down. Alyssa calmed down pretty quickly but Courtney struggled for a while. Savannah, my hero, took her outside. Savannah could see how much she was struggling with the crowd so she found stuff for her to do outside for a while. Thankfully part of the reception was outside so they were still part of the event ;). Courtney was able to come back in and be a part of the gathering for a short time. You could see in her face though how hard it was on her. But here is the positive of all of this. I at first was worried about what people were thinking as she melted down and I quickly left the big room with her, but when I came back, people wanted to not only know how they could help, but wanted to know more about Courtney and Autism. I enjoyed showing my sister’s in-laws Courtney’s talker and explaining how we teach her how to use it, I enjoyed introducing the young lady who has helped my family in ways that I could never explain to my family. Better yet, I was able to get through a busy weekend without letting Autism run our life. We made it work.
A huge shout out to all those who helped make it work!