This is how today started...
All the kids piled on Eric while he let mother and I sleep a bit more. It's a bit blurry, but I love it.
Then the big thing of the whole trip. The stretching of our boundaries as a family, as people, and certainly the family of an autistic little guy. I've planned it for at least a month. As soon as the TBA Spouses' Division sent out their itinerary, I took a shot of it and sent it to Eric.
I want us to take the kids to this. This would be a great first concert for them.
It was a Boston Crusaders concert/clinic. I know, what a place for kids, right? But the way I see it, who's gonna hear Ryan screaming over those drum corps kids blasting our faces off?
Okay, so I thought it was just a concert. Whoops.
A badge like mommy's and daddy's? Cool!
Eric told Ryan all about what was going to happen. Well, all that he knew would happen. I'm the goofy mama who thought drum corps... you know, bugles and drums... and promised a very nervous Ryan that there would be no singing.
They sang a warmup or two, but it was beautiful and very well done, so no screaming. The other thing he was afraid of was the house lights.
"You will not turn off the lights!!!"
And I took a gamble and told him they wouldn't... and they didn't. Whew. We talked about how it would be loud, and it was just like church. He had to use a whisper voice. LOVING that new skill!
As the corps director began to talk about the show, I almost fell over. Their theme for the show this summer is "Rise."
All about rising from adversity.
And that's when I wished I hadn't bothered with eye makeup.
I also wished I could stand up and start talking. I wished I could tell that man how much this show... this performance... means to us. To our family.
DCI in the Alamodome used to be my favorite part of TBA. Due to limitations as a family, the last one we attended was when Ryan was about two. You know, right when we were starting to get nervous about his development?
As I sit in the hotel room, I look out and can see mostly the same sights I saw as a wide-eyed freshman in college. This place was such a dream for me in so many ways. Maybe someday I'd have honor band. Maybe I'd make it in to Phi Beta Mu. Oh, the sky was the limit! It was so thrilling to think of what lay ahead. And when I had a job, it was such fun to dive in and learn.
None of those dreams had a contingency plan for a neurodiverse child. In all of those plans, in fact, I was the working mom. Or the mom who took her kids to concerts and clinics while their daddy was off doing his band director stuff, too.
I never dreamed my child wouldn't be able to handle the crowds just walking from the hotel.
I never dreamed my child would melt down over having to turn and go a different way in the path due to construction.
I never dreamed that I'd be sitting here, pouring my heart out to you.
I dreamed of pouring my life out for my children and my husband, yes. But what I didn't realize is that I dreamed those things on my terms. What were those, you ask? Well, for one, I'd always love it. I'd be so wrapped up in mommy and wifedom that I wouldn't have a second thought for what I was missing in the band world. I would be selfless, then. And therefore, all this would be so easy.
As we all know or are finding out, life has a way of doing what God intended. And God's imagination is so much more than ours.
This concert, the struggle to just be there, were just overwhelming. This was our first concert in years at convention. And the theme. Rise. Hope amid adversity. Hope from hopelessness.
Toward the end of the concert, during the run-through of the Boston Crusaders' show music, the wheels began to fly off. Just at a quiet-ish moment, he started to stand up. I asked him to sit. He didn't agree, and the hitting and grunting began.
It thankfully ended quickly. But only when he leaned over and snuggled into my arms. With both arms around him, a blisteringly loud, gorgeous wall of hope inspired my heart. I held him, whispering that it's okay and it'll all be over soon and I'm so very proud of you, baby over and over and over.
Call me crazy, but there are times when it seems God hugs our hearts. Today, with something so dear to my heart that I've all but left behind all around me, I felt as if, as our pastor says, God just picked me up and gave me a big bear hug. Maybe the same one I was giving my Ryan.
As soon as the drum major cut off, I turned to Ryan and exploded with "YOU DID IT!"
The crowd was on its feet and making its own noise, well-deserved for these fine musicians.
He smiled ear to ear. He knew he'd really done something. He was proud.
On the way back to the hotel, we were immediately back in meltdown land. We fussed over lunch, played iPad, napped, and swam. He melted down at the pool and we had to come back. Seems he didn't much appreciate being made to sit out for pushing his brother in the pool.
Then Daddy came back and we went to dinner. Here are my dear boys waiting for our turn, watching the pigeons and boats on the river.
And Ryan decided he needed to take some pictures, too. He took this one first...
When the kid looks at you and says, "Say cheese, Mommy!" you say cheese. You just do.
Then he was on to the self-portrait end of things. Nice nose, little dude.
And then we took a walk to the blue elevator, then back to the hotel for some hanging out, snuggles, and baths.
Thanks be to God for the hug I needed and I won't soon forget.