10/03/2014 02:59 pm ET Updated Dec 03, 2014

Learning to Trust My Parenting Instincts

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For the last few years, my family and I have celebrated the start of the fall season by making an apple pie.

I'll give all who know me a little time to laugh at this thought.

OK. Let's move on.

Living in New York, and only five minutes from a family-owned apple orchard, most years, apple gathering is no more complicated than getting the whole family into the minivan. No small feat, but usually totally doable.

Last year, my sister celebrated her son's fourth birthday with a party at an orchard that lets you pick apples. Since my family survived that trip with no blood spilled and nobody getting lost among the trees, I happily said yes a few weeks ago when Wendy invited us for a repeat performance.

She lives about an hour and a half away from us, so this year Joe and I thought it might be better if I made the trip with my parents and the boys while he stayed home with our daughter, Lizzy.

Having a child with significant special needs has meant that sometimes we make decisions that aren't always popular with the rest of my family, and by the rest of my family, I mean my parents.

Lizzy has had a hard time lately, and we felt many hours in a car and a long day filled with festivities and apple picking might be too much for her. We also realize that sometimes the boys, and even I, need a little break from the realities of living with someone who has special needs.

My parents are wonderful and very devoted grandparents. But the idea that one of their beloved grandchildren would not be at a family event didn't make them happy, nor did it win me any special daughter points.

I understand their position and love them for it.

I also know Lizzy, and I knew she would be more comfortable home having a special "Daddy-Daughter Day," while the boys and I celebrated my nephew's fifth birthday.

Trusting my own instincts can be very hard for me at these times. I find myself caught between wanting to be the perfect daughter and making my parents happy and needing to be the mother that I know Lizzy requires me to be.

Yesterday, motherhood won out.

The boys and I came home with a bushel of apples, a small serving of my parent's disapproval and my promise to Peter, made several times during the long ride home, to make an apple pie.

I woke up and was greeted with the request again. And again.

At 2:00 p.m. today, I took our freshly-picked apples and turned them into a pie.

I cut the apples my own creative way, even keeping some skin on a few of them. (My food blogging friends have nothing to fear from me!) I fiddled with the recipe cutting down on the sugar and upping the cinnamon.

Never once in my baking did I question my methods or wonder what someone would think about the fact that I used orange juice to keep my apple slices from getting brown instead of the lemon juice that the recipe called for.

Would someone have an issue with the fact that I used a pre-made frozen crust, or that I didn't brush the top of my crust with egg white? Maybe. But it didn't matter to me.

I knew my pie would come out perfectly and that my family would love it. I have done it so many times that I know what works and what doesn't.

I'm hoping that one day I feel as confident about the choices I make as a parent as I do about making an apple pie.

You can find more essays from Kathy and her possessed dishwasher here.