Summer provides my family the time to rewind and reconnect

A columnist relishes the opportunity to spend more time with her kids

Meagan Cheney avatar

by Meagan Cheney |

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Author Kellie Elmore has a great quote I find fitting for my family at the start of summer: “I love how summer just wraps its arms around you like a warm blanket.”

As a teacher and single parent of three children, I typically spend the summer playing catch-up. We had a busy spring, with my 8-year-old daughter Austen, who has Dravet syndrome and autism, participating in soccer and theater. By the time school let out at the end of May, I was ready to crash. Then I looked at my to-do list and realized I couldn’t.

We were moving into a new rental, the kids needed dental appointments, and it was time to schedule an echocardiogram for Austen. Oh, and I have to get a whole new classroom set up for next year! Vacation who?

By the time the first week of June wrapped up, I was just as frazzled — if not more so — as I was when school ended.

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Thankfully, I have an amazing family and one-of-a-kind friends who helped me move in and watched my kids when one of them had an appointment. Soon we were done with most of the items on my list, and I could take a deep breath.

I’ve spent a lot of time so far this break just staying home with the kids. Having movie nights, playing outdoors, and swimming with relatives have filled our days.

Last week, we rented a cabin in the mountains with two of my best friends, who also are single parents, and their children. We were three adults and eight kids, over three days. That may sound like a lot, but it was the perfect break. Our cabin had a video game room and a hot tub, and we visited a local lake and a maze. Most of the time, though, we just “were.”

We talked, tag-teamed the parenting, and filled one another’s proverbial cups.

As a special needs single parent, this was exactly what I needed — time with people who know me well and are familiar with Austen’s quirks and stims.

Our kids have grown up together, so they’re not put off by Austen’s behaviors. They simply embrace her for who she is. And they’re comfortable defending their own “bubbles,” so I don’t have to constantly remind Austen to stay out of people’s personal space.

Also, have I mentioned that Austen hasn’t had a seizure since December? It’s been almost seven months!

We’re back home now and tackling the rest of our summer to-do list. School shopping starts in a few weeks, and registration for fall sports isn’t too far behind.

For now, I’m soaking up these moments with my kids. As I type this, the dogs are lying at my feet, and Austen is begging to go outside and color the sidewalk with chalk. The warm blanket of summer lies on our lap for the time being, and I’m not going to rush it away.

Note: Dravet Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Dravet Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Dravet syndrome.


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