Last Friday was a rare day. Zoe and Lena were out of school and Gray was not. In my anticipation of this monumental event, I spent hours considering the best way to spend this precious time when the girls would have me all to themselves. I savored the thought like I was planning some elaborate vacation and imagined the three of us at a beach or day spa. Of course, with a 9-year-old and a 3-year-old, my options were limited to activities that they would both enjoy. I decided that the most special activity would be a trip to Six Flags. We all have season passes and the weather was perfect and I knew they would both be thrilled with the plan.
After we dropped Gray and Hope off at school, we started our day with a girls breakfast. Over croissants and strawberries, we talked about our plans for the day, excitement for summer and Lena’s plans to get her hair cut like Zoe. Instead of zoning out to movies in the back seat, the girls requested dance music on the radio so we could get revved up for our outing. We were pleased to find a practically empty amusement park with no lines to slow us down as we ran from one ride to the next. The weather was overcast and 75 degrees, so no one complained about being too hot or too cold. After doing such a nice job taking turns on who got to pick the next ride, I granted their wish to commemorate our special day with airbrushed t-shirts. I must admit, as a child of the 80’s, I have always wanted an airbrushed shirt. Unfortunately, they don’t have the kinds with beaded fringe at the sleeves anymore, but I was very pleased with all of our choices.
As we rode the train and the girls reclined on my lap, I made note of how RELAXED I felt. The idea amused me because I know most parents have a hard time feeling relaxed at an amusement park with their kids. I suspect that most parents see it as a labor of love to endure a day like this. Instead, I soaked in their happy little faces and I noted that I was independently enjoying the day. We were just 3 carefree girls who were not at the mercy of Gray’s unpredictable mood swings or limited patience. Even though Hope has allowed us more freedom as a family, taking her and Gray out is still a big project…in a way, I am tethered to the service dog along with Gray. By contrast, a day with these 2 typical kids was a breeze. With my best deep-yoga breath, I soaked in the moment.
We returned home just as Gray was coming in from school. Zoe exclaimed,”Hi Buddy!” Lena ran to give him a hug before laying on top of Hope. Everyone sat down at the table to have a snack and watch some cartoons. After a day on our own, we all felt ready and recharged to reconnect with Gray on his terms.