We all went on a little holiday this weekend. We went to Center Parcs. It was very busy but apart from that, it suited us okay as everything was on site, we walked everywhere, we took our own (familiar) food, we took our own bedding, it was a fairly good place to go for a first holiday. (Apart from the busyness.)
The pool provided many happy moments and it was amazing to see the girls come on in such a short space of time. They went down slides, they played in the splash place, they held onto us when we went in the waves and the river and they smiled a lot. But the overriding emotion I felt over the weekend was grief.
Grief for the things that we cannot do. We waited 2 years before going away for the first time and it was clear from the off that Big just couldn’t manage. Too much to process, too much change, too much sensory information. We did our best to plan everything, to take familiar things, to talk about going home a lot, to reflect on lots of people finding holidays hard but as the weekend progressed, the violence and the dysregulation increased. I watched other families enjoying their time together, mixing with other families, laughing, going out for meals and I was sad for what we cannot do.
Grief for Big. For the fact that she cannot enjoy things. For the fact that her anxiety about what is happening ‘next’ is the governing feeling for everything we do. For the fact that she never feels safe.
Grief for Little. Because we have two children and I constantly feel that one of them is not getting the time that they need. Because she is becoming more aware that other people’s sisters do not do the things that Big does. Because she did enjoy her holiday but we’re already wondering if we can possibly do it again. Because she is becoming very frustrated with the life we’re currently living.
Grief for the fact that I cannot seem to help Big. I don’t parent perfectly but I don’t do too bad a job. Two years on and emotionally we’re pretty much in the same position. Big will not talk about anything prior to coming to live with us and will not discuss incidents that have happened here or how she feels at all. I understand that this is what she needs to do, she sees it as her way of surviving but it must be so hard for her.
Grief for me. My role of mother to Big is very different to how I thought it would be. Again, my brain understands but my heart hurts for my Big girl and for me and for the relationship that we cannot have.
Maybe in another years time, I’ll read back over this and smile at how bleak I pictured life. Maybe we’ll be packing the car to go camping and Big will have a genuine smile on her face and she and Little will sit in the back of the car asking questions about the adventures we’re going to have.
But right now, I can’t see that. I’m just very, very sad. I don’t know what’s the best to do for my girls and for us as a family, but right now, for Big, it wasn’t going on holiday.
The best bits
Both the girls went down the little slides by themselves. This involved getting their faces wet and even a bit of water up their noses and they managed really well. Their smiles when we caught them at the bottom of the slides were magical.
Little woke up this morning (in our bed) and the first thing she said was ‘I liked my holiday mummy, thank you’. I’m glad we created a happy memory for her.