Chad and I have never had a honeymoon. In fact, we’ve never even had a child-free overnight in the 9+ years we’ve been married. Jackson was born before our wedding—he was a 5-month-old chubby-cheeked baby in our wedding photos—so we did not want to leave baby him behind and go on vacation after the wedding. (Also, babies are kinda expensive, and a honeymoon seems like a luxury when you’re scraping funds together for daycare, diapers, etc.)

Then, Gracie was born when Jackson was 2, and our lives became much more difficult. There has never been a time in her life when she was healthy, not even when she was in utero. Health crisis after health crisis has plagued her throughout her entire life. Childcare became harder and harder to find—thank goodness our daycare provider also has a special needs child, or she would have run screaming much sooner—and overnight childcare was impossible. Between the constant wounds and infections and Gracie’s natural hyperactivity, there was no chance of finding anyone who would take care of the kids overnight. Truthfully, it would have been stressful for me to leave her in someone else’s care, also—we don’t have close family in town, and there’s no one else I could have entrusted her to.

Gracie is a little older now, and we are better at managing her condition. She is still hyperactive, and she still doesn’t feel pain, and she’s not potty trained in the traditional sense, but she’s not biting fingertips off anymore, and she’s better able to self-report if she sees herself bleeding. Progress.

We still have trouble finding summer childcare for Grace. Jackson is able to go to day camps, but she is not. She isn’t independent in the bathroom, which is a requirement for every camp or daycare for kids her age. Plus, she isn’t safe—she needs to have an adult keeping an eye on her in order to not break bones or sustain other serious injuries. Those day camps are staffed by teenagers at a ratio of 15-20 kids per one young adult; there’s no way she would be watched carefully there. And there are day programs for special needs kids, but Jackson couldn’t go (yes, that’s a requirement for me—I want my kids to spend the summers together), and also usually she’s the only person there with normal cognition—most people with disabilities as severe as hers also have cognitive impairment. She doesn’t really fit in, and the staffers usually don’t know what to do with her (strange but true—even in the special needs community she is an anomaly, and many people are afraid of working with her). This leaves us with nannying as our only summer childcare option.

I started reaching out to people in early spring to see if anyone was interested in nannying for us this summer. I posted on listservs for parents of special needs kiddos, reached out to our former daycare person, asked the SPED teachers at Gracie’s old preschool, and talked to folks at the kids’ current elementary school. No one replied. I started to panic as the school year neared its end and doubled-down on my efforts, but it was in vain—we were unsuccessful at finding a summer nanny.

Luckily, Chad works out of the house, and I am able to work from home sometimes, so we decided to split days and take care of the kids at home during the summer. It wasn’t a perfect plan but it would have worked; the kids would have a boring summer, but hey, didn’t we all have those as kids? At least they would be together.

But then, my parents volunteered to visit Colorado for the summer and provide childcare. Hallelujah! I would be able to work in the office during the summer. Chad would be able to do deliveries during the day. We could breathe easy, knowing the kids were in my parents’ very capable hands. It was wonderful. We got an even better surprise, though, when they offered to allow Chad to join me at my work conference in Vail. After 9+ years of marriage, we are finally able to have a child-free overnight together. It may not be a traditional honeymoon, but it’s the best we’ve ever had. What a gift—we are so grateful for this opportunity.

So tonight, if our hotel room’s a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’—we are on our long-overdue honeymoon. ❤

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