Monday, July 31, 2017

5 Reasons to Take Your (family) Show on the Road This Summer

Nick meeting a wallaby in Australia 
“Sing to God a brand-new song. He’s made a world of wonders!” 
Psalm 98:1 MSG

Bending over to put shoes on the feet of my 6-foot tall special needs son is never graceful. Much less in the middle of the security cleared zone of an International Airport. I must say that every step of TSA is an adventure: explaining why he doesn’t have ID at the age of 17, convincing the supervisor that he can’t go through the Advanced Imaging machine, assuring Nick that his iPad will be fine if he leaves it on the conveyor belt as it disappears inside the x-ray machine. It’s all a lot of organized chaos.

But it’s summer vacation, and we promised our oldest son that upon his High School Graduation he could take a trip of his choosing anywhere in the world.  We travel by air frequently, and when son #1 decided on Australia, I didn’t bat an eye. I’ve done the TSA dance before. And the cram two giant people into the airplane bathroom dance before too. But as I fastened Nick’s shoes this time in the TSA line and promised for the 900th time since we arrived at the airport “Yes, we will be in Syndey after the plane ride,” I noticed more than one person looking at me like I was crazy.    

I have never been phased by the curious or concerned looks of others. But at that moment, as we prepared to board our 14-hour flight, I actually wondered if they were right. Am I crazy? Is this a bad parenting decision? I’m about to subject this giant child to grueling travel conditions that keep most typical adults from venturing to exotic lands. And for what? So he can miss his dog, miss summer camp and friends, and worry obsessively about every step along the way. Is this a vacation? Or am I voluntarily signing-up for a two-week torture fest?

If this question has hampered your summer travel decisions, let me tell you why it was all worth every struggle.  

  1. We were all on vacation together. We have always made a point to prioritize togetherness. Not even disability should get priority over togetherness. The benefit of time spent as a family unit outweighs the negative every time. 
  2. New experiences are priceless for all. My oldest son experienced a place and a people that most will never know. Nick got to pet kangaroos and see the inside of the Sydney Opera House, both of which he has no concept of how unique the experience is, but he enjoyed it in his own way. We all tasted new foods and appreciated a completely different world and culture.
  3. A change of pace is good, even if it’s a more difficult pace. My caregiver job had a new view for a little while, at least I was out of the house and didn’t have to cook or wash for a while. It was still work, but the change of pace did my heart and soul good. As I modeled for my son a peaceful and enjoyable attitude on our vacation, he felt more at peace himself.
  4. Melt-downs happen! Although there were melt-downs due to the new environment, the truth is that if we’d stayed home safe and sound, following our routine to the T, there would’ve surely been melt-downs about something or the other. So what’s the difference if the source is something old or something new?
  5. Experiencing God’s handiwork is something that we all need, whether we are aware of the need, can express it or not. Seeing more of creation, nature, and the wonders of this world increase us mentally and spiritually. This is true for everyone.
It took a while for me to make peace with the fact that whatever Nick is getting out of his vacation – even though it isn’t what the typical tourist gets out of it – is valuable to him. Years ago I knew a man who went to a cabin up North with his entire family every summer. His medically complex son had so many needs that they literally pulled a U-Haul filled with supplies for 1,000 miles each way. I couldn’t understand why go through the trouble. Now I get it.

Let me encourage you, by the mere fact that we survived, to try something new and different this summer. Whether it’s a trip to the local water park, or a flight around the world, the benefits will surely outweigh the cost. This “world of wonders” that the Lord has made, was made to be enjoyed by all. I can testify that the Lord was so good to us and kept his eye on Nick the entire trip. Many tiny miracles occurred to make the trip much better than I could’ve imagined. 

A Prayer for the Journey:
Lord, give me the courage to provide opportunities for my children to grow and learn, even if that seems hard. I trust you to provide new mercies each morning, and I believe that you will be with us as we go.  Show me the pleasures along the way, open my eyes to your beauty, rather than to my own chores and challenges.  Let me always be finding a New Song of joy through you.


  1. New experiences are the best esp when shared by the people you love.

    1. Yes!! I agree with you :-) thanks for taking the time to read and comment