Tomorrow is my 49th birthday. When I was in my twenties, I was so concerned about the “plan”, you know, what job I would have to do to get the best jump start on a career in a field, that somewhere inside of me, buried deeply, I knew I didn’t like. Am I ever glad life took a course that steered me away from that plan of mine. Looking at what I have now, with all its oddities and imperfections, hardships, worries, pain and joy, laughter, absurdities, madness and true and deep love, I am certain that plan of mine might have taken me down a path of earlier success but I would have been miserable. It is amazing the logic that occurs as we advance in age, helps us shed the trite shit in life. It allows us to shed the fake skin of youth where we think we know what we want and we think we are so savvy when in reality, all we are is young and gathering experience along the road that is our life.
This month is a special month for me, not because it is my birthday but because I am Adam’s and Logan’s mother. This month there is a lot to be proud of with regards to these two. Adam, at just 16, is going to the National Special Olympic Winter games to represent our province in Speed Skating. This guy with so many daily challenges skates so fast, he looks like he’s flying. He smiles the entire time he’s on the track and it is then I see just how truly freeing this sport is for him. It is heart warming to see him find avenues of freedom because it must be so difficult for him to be himself as he navigates his way about this world with autism on his shoulders everyday. The smile on the ice is the same smile when he sings with Karen, plays the drums, draws or when he is running in a marathon. Win or lose this week, my husband and I are proud of him and happy that we had the confidence and good sense to try different things and situations with him so that he could find his niche(s). So with our bags packed to go on a separate flight from him, we will sit in the stands, the nervous yet happy and proud parents there to love him and cheer him on.
This month was also special because of Logan – “the baby”. The baby is going into high school and all month with the transition meetings, parent nights and orientations, I found myself remembering him as a baby, as a toddler, his first day of school, first hockey game, first everything and I have to admit, I was a little sad. In spite of how grown up he’s had to be because of the unique nature of our family, he has always been and always will be my baby. I was happy and excited for Adam to go to high school but in his case there is the usual concern about the unknown. Things like, how will he fit into the environment, what strategies need to be implemented into the class room to help him in his daily school routine and the joy of him going to the next level is superseded by the job of getting him to the next level followed by (sometimes) a sigh of relief. With Logan, it was “normal” to the point of it being abnormal to us. There were all the meetings and open houses and information nights but it was not a job. It was a step towards the stage of life he is moving into now and it is exciting and filled with new adventures and opportunities for him. And today as I sat beside him and listened to him speak to his teachers and principal to be, and listened to what his course selections were, I caught my breath as I was sitting beside not “the baby” but the young man who has a better idea of what he likes and who he is than I was at his age. My heart is full of joy yet breaking at the same time because this is it! There are no more babies here; there haven’t been for sometime but with Logan going into high school and Adam a seasoned Special Olympian who travels with his team without his parents, this is the beginning of a new phase in Tom’s and my life. Our children are quickly growing into men and yet it seems like we just had them. It has gone by so quickly that I had to ask them if they felt they had a good childhood, to which the response was “yes, of course, Mom”. (Big sigh of relief) I know we got it wrong a lot of the time but looking at the way they are turning out, we got some of it right at least.
So as our sons venture into what will be the most exciting time of their lives, I will look on with their father and support and encourage and lend an ear, but in a different way this time. I hope they will continue to have confidence. I hope they will use good judgement. I hope they continue to work hard and I hope they get lucky breaks from time to time. I hope they soar and if we are so blessed, I will stand beside their father, hand in hand watching “the show” that is their lives play out before our eyes.
On the eve of my birthday, I feel blessed, lucky and loved and in awe of this road of life I have traveled thus far. There is nothing wrong with planning but there is something raw and wild, pure and fabulous about taking a deep breath, throwing caution to the wind and taking life as it comes. I never thought things would have played out as they have, but at 49, what I considered regrets were simply lessons learned; failures were just an indication that things needed to be done differently in order to succeed. I made a lot of mistakes, especially as a parent, and acknowledging them because of ego was hard sometimes but as I look at my boys now, I am happy that they saw I never gave up or gave in. I showed them how to find different ways of attaining the end result they wanted because with drive and desire nothing is impossible. I work hard, parent hard and play hard and I am freaking tired but I am happy. Happiness wasn’t always apparent to me, especially when the boys were young and we lived far away from our family, working in an unsteady industry and trying to provide for the family and running the household was a bit of a whirlwind roller coaster ride. Its hard to embrace or recognize happiness when you are trying to climb up a hill with a heavy sack on your back. You see snippets of it, of course but with the next scream or cry, the next bill you open, the next visit to the doctor, the next bout of vomit, the next diaper change, the next sleepless night, the next note from school, the pressure at work, the next realization that you have nothing thawed to make dinner….(argh) all these things, these next not-so-nice things make the sensation of happiness short lived and masked by tiredness and frustration. Now, I feel like we’ve made it over a proverbial hump. There is still a lot to do and a lot to worry about, and sure, shit may still hit the fan but there’s more clarity, more hope, more patience, and a nice sense of anticipation of what may come.
Tomorrow, I will celebrate quietly with my husband, kids, mom, sister and her family and I hope for more of the contentment I feel now for years to come.