Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Surprise Adventure

I just got back from a surprise adventure. It all started when my brother-in-law offered to fly me in to surprise my sister for her 40th birthday party. At first my chest tightened. Yikes! That would mean I’d have to get on a plane again. It’s been about 10 years since my last flight and since then I’ve casually declared I’d never fly again. But this was an invitation I could not refuse. As I considered my options, I had to do what I coach my kids to do everyday—take slow deep breaths and move through the fear. Heck, if I could make my son face his fears with the locker room at school, the least I could do was get back on a plane!

So I accepted his generous offer and asked if I could bring my middle son if I bought his ticket. I figured that it was worth getting the most out of this trip if I was going to fly again. The last time I flew I took my oldest on the plane, and now it would be my middle son’s first opportunity to fly, plus it would give us four whole days of alone time where I could shower him with one-on-one attention without the distractions of his brothers. It’s tough being the middle child, especially if the siblings have special needs.

My brother-in-law graciously accepted my offer and our secret plan was under way.

As we drove to the airport, I admit I had butterflies, but once at the terminal, I was completely into “mom mode” and had no time to worry about my fears, instead I spent the time showing my son what an airport looks like, with all the silly souvenirs and modern artwork. A true test came while in a gift shop when the tv news reported a shooting at an airport near our final destination. I watched with concern as travelers frantically pulled their luggage as they ran from the terminals. I took a long, deep breath and redirected my son to the quaint coffee shop nearby. At that moment I started to feel confident, I can do this, no problem!

While in flight, I watched my son politely engage with those around him. Soaking in delight as the stewardess complimented his politeness and patience. Then to top it off, the woman next to us gushed about how lovely my son was. At that moment I started to giggle inside. I was “THAT MOM!” You may know what I mean. For one small, sweet moment, I was the mom who appeared to have it all together with her “perfectly-behaved” child. LOL! It felt damn good, but I have to admit I felt like a fraud. Pushing aside those silly thoughts, I looked at my lovely middle child and gushed inside.

As the plane took off, I felt calm and excited for our adventure ahead. I couldn’t wait to surprise my sister. What I didn’t expect was that after surprising my sister, my brother-in-law surprised me and my son by announcing that he was taking us all to a beach house for the weekend.

It was such a wonderful, unexpected surprise!

The weekend was so nice. It was great to spend time with my sister and her family and to have so much time with my middle son. So often my middle son goes with the flow, allowing the needs of his brothers to take priority.

Just the week before, while shopping for halloween costumes in a store, my oldest started to have a lot of anxiety about his costume choice. It came down to one costume having gloves and the other not and he just couldn’t decide between the two. Time dragged on, and the stress levels escalated. I could feel a meltdown fast approaching. Then out of nowhere, my middle son said, “You can have the gloves in my costume. That way you can get the costume you really want.” Instantly my oldest son threw his arms around my middle son, giving him the biggest hug. I quickly followed with a hug, so thankful the drama had ended peacefully and overwhelmed with pride as I saw one son sacrifice for another.

Unfortunately, my middle son sacrifices too often for the others. As much as I try to make it up, by serving in his classroom, taking him on “Mommy dates” or getting him into sports. I knew that this weekend was going to be a very special, unique opportunity. It was now my turn to spoil him.

Spoil him I did! He got his favorite snacks (beef jerky) and soda when he wanted, all “mom limits” were lifted. He enjoyed trips in a kayak with his uncle and tons of fun boogie boarding with his cousin. In the end, it was all that I hoped for. We shared some very special moments and I got to watch him enjoy life to the fullest without a care in the world.

As the trip came to an end, the final destination was at his own request. He wanted to stop on the boardwalk to get souvenirs for his brothers who he couldn’t wait to get back to. He said, “As much as my brothers scream at me, I can’t wait to see them, I miss them so much!” I realized then, that after all we’ve been through, we’re not damaged or broken. Instead we’re stronger and more connected than ever. And boy, is my middle son a blessing to us all!


  1. I'm so happy for you guys--sounds like a wonderful trip. I'm sure your son will never forget it. You are a great mom! And I relate to your fear of flying.:)

  2. Oh, so glad. This post brought tears to my eyes (the good kind!) What a wonderful opportunity for both of you.