A little bit of gratitude goes a long way…

One day out of a whole year to say you’re thankful is not enough.  Granted, it gives us a chance to look back and take stock of what life has given us over the course of the past twelve months, but -in the face of such pressure to remember while making sure the oven is set to the right temperature, things don’t boil over, the phone ringing with greetings from friends and family- it’s easy to let small bits of gratitude slip your mind…

I am grateful for the day that $25 check arrived when we needed an extra $10 in our bank account.  I am grateful that our bank does online deposits.  I am grateful that, in the middle of all the other things that have seeped into my mind over the course of fifty years, some of the stuff that I didn’t seem to be paying attention to actually took root and I know how to lower a fever with more than just acetaminophen.  I am grateful that, when we’ve needed to, we’ve been able to put Dada on a plane to see his dad when he was very ill, and when he had to attend the funeral.  I’m grateful that, when one least expects it, the way we’ve brought our kids up has shone through, and they’ve learned from stuff that wasn’t exactly positive.

I am thankful for tiny things that probably shouldn’t be included when we say grace before a meal, but that matter in the greater scheme of things.  I am grateful for things that seems absurd and petty to others.  I can’t help it…I am a grateful sort of person, even if my sense of gratitude can be rather skewed from time to time.  I complain about many things, but I am capable of perspective, and for that I am immensely grateful.

The older I get, the more grateful I am that I was born and raised in a simpler world.  That is: we didn’t have cell phones, computers, instant messaging, digital photography.  I think that’s why I learned -eventually- how to be patient.  I am grateful that it is only now that I am willing to spring for a stand-up mixer…it would have saved me time and effort when I was younger, but I also wouldn’t have learned a lot of things I know about making cakes, cookies, bread…  I am thankful that, even with arthritis taking a hold of my hands, I can still crochet and TGG can take chemo caps to work on a weekly basis.  I am thankful that we’ve had the same car for the past eleven years, and it’s only now that we’re thinking of downsizing.  I’m grateful that, over those eleven years, the car has spent little to no time needing repair.  I’m grateful that when we’ve needed something, we’ve found a way to get what we need.  I’m grateful that we’ve learned that less is more, and that teaching your kids the difference between “need” and “want” is crucial when they’re young.

I’m just grateful.  I really am.  Even when we find ourselves in the middle of absurd situations, I’m grateful.  Even when things are going poorly, I’m grateful.  I don’t know how not to be grateful even when I’m on the brink of being bitter and resentful about some things.  Yes, I have moments when I get fed up with certain aspects of our life, but then I see all that I do have, and my mind and my heart are as clear as the song of the trains on the tracks near the river…rising up in the dark of night…their horns announcing that they are making their way through and forward.

So…take today out of all the other days this year to say thank you to every little thing you’ve encountered, good or bad, and every little thing that you’ve not remembered to whisper to yourself “oh, so timely!!!”  I try every day to not forget how lucky, blessed, fortunate, happy, crazy we are; I try to spread it on the toast in the morning, and stir it into the coffee, and sip it in the water.  I try to breathe it because living is magnificent even at its worst…

J seems to think so, and I take a lot of my cues from him because he can probably see life more clearly, less filtered, less biased than I can.

Have a happy day…and try to stretch it into tomorrow and the day after and so on and so forth…

The Dawning of the Age of Chester the XXXI…

Every Thanksgiving turkey is called Chester.  This goes back to 1983 and my first maiden voyage cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  I spent most of that day on the phone with my cousin (who is TGG’s godmother) consulting books, comparing notes and hoping we didn’t totally botch our families’ respective holiday meals.  This year we’ve been messaging back and forth discussing the weather and comparing notes on what our side dishes will be…  We’ve come a long way.

I can announce, quite proudly, that J has become a sous chef extraordinaire; he has made excellent work of chopping vegetables for the stuffing, and he took command of the whole slicing, cubing, seasoning, and toasting the bread for the stuffing…  I had to demonstrate everything from the other side of the counter (since he is left-handed,) but he very aptly did the rest with me keeping an eye on the sharp knives and the ten fingers I wanted him to still have when the work was done.

Little by little (because lot by lot doesn’t quite feel the same) we’ve been cleaning, prepping and helping each other all day.  When it started snowing, J took a break from the task he was performing to stand next to me and announce SNOW with a mixture of “really?” and “oh, Christmas.”  Out came the Christmas music piping all over the kitchen level of our townhouse, and J kept working while humming along to the tunes.

It is almost a year to the day since J’s then-doctor (who has since finished her residency and moved to a different area of the state to set up her practice) discussed with us changing J’s eating habits to follow the Mediterranean Diet.  I did my homework, and I took some chances.  A year later, J is approximately fifty pounds lighter, and a whole lot healthier.

We started out by hiding the changes from him, and now we can cook and mix vegetables into his food without so much as him batting an eyelash.  The kid (yes, I know he’s almost 20, but he’s always going to be “the kid” around these parts) eats SOUP…home-made tomato soup!  He eats 1/100th of the cheese he used to eat, and he loves his hummus and vegetable chips.  If there was a time when “we’re out of Ramen noodles” was a crisis in this household, now we are sent into a panic when we’re running low on yogurt and home-made pear chips.  Size 44 pants make J look like he rummaged through someone else’s closet to find something to wear.  His XXL t-shirts are loose to the point of looking like we made a mistake reading the label at the store.

A lot has changed in a year.  A lot.  We now have a grandchild, even if we will never meet him.  We now have a smaller, more functional autistic son.  TGG is moving out, and we get another room to use for another purpose.  We have lost a beloved father, and another father is in poorer health than he was last year at this time.  In the middle of Life, because that’s what the ups and downs are, we are grateful that we are together, even if we have the occasional argument about, well, Life and its peculiarities, or -more accurately- our peculiarities as humans performing the choreography of living without quite having learned it beforehand.

In a rocky year, we’ve managed to persevere, and for that we have to be grateful.  We don’t always see it, but…there you have it.  It’s not just the short and illustrious reign of Chester the XXXI we are concerning ourselves with tomorrow, but rather that we’ve been around to see him and his predecessors, and we might be fortunate enough to see many of those who follow, too.

There will be no Black Friday shopping for us, but J does want to go to the movies for The Penguins of Madagascar.  We’ll leave The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything for upcoming weekends when we need to get out of the house.  Friday will be the day we work on our stamping our parcel paper roll with Christmas motifs to wrap our gifts in for Twelve Days.  Sunday we’ll work on biscotti to pack for those little giveaway presents Dada takes to the office.  TGG has to start working on packing up to move, and J will have to start thinking of the reality of his brother not living here.

I mentioned this while we were vacuuming and airing out the top floor, and J opened his eyes so big that I almost felt bad about saying anything.  I made him sit on the bench in his room, and I explained that TGG won’t be too far away, and that it will be easier to see him here than when he was in Texas visiting my brother.  I didn’t promise, because I can’t and I shouldn’t, that he will see TGG every single day, but I did promise that we will show him where TGG is moving to this coming weekend.  The rest of the prep work, sadly, doesn’t fall on my shoulders; TGG will have to have an adult conversation with his brother and make a case for independence without making it sound like they’re never seeing each other again, and without making it seem like they will see each other like they do now.

We start climbing, then, the slippery slope of adjusting to a new household arrangement.  We spend the last official holiday as all residents of the same home, and we get ready for holiday plans being optional rather than required.  I can no longer say “Sunday dinner is at six-thirty on the dot and you WILL be here.”  I just can’t.  I can invite to dinner, and the invitation can be declined.  That’s something that all of us, especially J, have to get used to from here on end.

So we will make Chester the XXXI as memorable and delicious as we can, and we have the perfect sous chef to help us achieve our goal.

We arrive (almost without realizing it) to Thanksgiving Week…

As I type this, unbelievably enough for those of us who looked at the calendar and had to adjust our glasses, there is a rather large (because they were all either too large or too small) turkey defrosting in our refrigerator.

This is the last Thanksgiving we will all spend while living together under one roof.  Oddly enough, we are faring quite well.  I would have thought that I’d be more broken up about seeing my firstborn go off to live with a roommate (granted, he’ll be a couple of miles away,) but the truth is that I am actually looking forward to TGG leaving.  And, mind you, it’s not just because we get an extra room that we can use for other things.  TGG, a grown-up with grown-up responsibilities, grates on my nerves when he starts acting like a child, and I feel it is time to cut the cord and let him sink or swim on his own.

This all started because he’d been talking of moving AWAY out of state, and -as is our usual strategy- we asked him to research what that would entail and come up with a plan of what he wants to do.  TGG’s enthusiasm for things is usually frantic and short-lived.  That’s why he has tried soccer, playing guitar, making short movies, weight-lifting, taking care of a Venus Flytrap, maintaining a terrarium, playing basketball, brewing beer…  Ours is that house where the garage is full of easels, balls for different sports, bicycles, kits for different projects that were going to be SO AWESOME!  Our library is full of books for learning other languages, methods for completing certain processes, and so on and so forth.  We have harbored ladybugs, ants, caterpillars (those actually DID turn to butterflies,) praying mantises, injured baby birds, and so on and so forth.

A couple of weeks ago TGG sent a text message saying that his friend So-and-So was moving away and offered the sublet of his room in a townhouse.  The rent is very reasonable considering that this is a lovely townhouse community, and TGG get his own en suite and is close to our home and work.  Of course, the way this has developed has been a source of…irritation?  That is to say: why don’t kids ask the reasonable, logical questions regarding renting?  Why don’t they factor in things like toiletries, bed linens, groceries (you know the kind I mean…the “not-so-obvious” ones like, oh, salt?) into their budget planning?  What’s worse, when you point these things out they look at you as if you just threw a bucket of cold water over them.  When they say “oh, I just have a few things,” and you point out that, well, there’s more to move than their video game consoles, movies, pillows and light saber…you get the picture, right?

I know that TGG has had a rough time this year, and I think it’s time I explained fully why this is: it’s his fault, basically.  You see, like every other mother of a male child, I drummed into that brain of his the notion that he doesn’t need American Express, but that -going by the company’s motto- he should never leave home without condoms.  Nearly thirteen months later, we are grandparents of a bouncing baby boy we will never meet.  TGG, being more responsible for the really BIG stuff than he is for the day-to-day, went to court, requested a paternity test, and attended a hearing to pay child support.

The young lady doesn’t want TGG to have a relationship with their son, and TGG has decided that it is best to respect her wishes for the good of the child, but he will be paying a not-insignificant amount in child support each month (something she claimed she didn’t want) and five months arrears.

To say that this has been an emotional roller coaster is to put it mildly.  We didn’t blow up when he first heard the news because TGG is an adult.  We were disappointed that he hadn’t been more responsible, but we couldn’t kill him, could we?  We were surprised that the young lady was so insistent on not having contact with TGG in the midst of all this.  I believe that women do have a right to choose, and -in this particular case- I’ve often wondered if she didn’t choose to have this baby because she really wanted one.  I cannot say this is a fact, but I have wondered.  We never met this girl, but we have to respect her wishes.  Since, obviously, this was not the result of a committed, long-term relationship, we are left floundering with unresolved feelings.  The least we have been able to do is remind TGG that his son is not to blame for whatever fractures there are in the parents’ relationship.

This is not the reason TGG is moving out.  TGG is moving out because it’s long overdue, and we encourage him to become more independent.  The one thing we are all worried about at this point is how J will react to the new status quo.

You know how J is when it comes to TGG!  During the day he doesn’t bat an eyelash about his brother not being home, but at night -regardless of whether he’s been told TGG is going out, or whether the greatest caution and stealth have been exercised- J will start asking about his brother’s whereabouts in a rather insistent manner.  It’s one thing to see TGG’s room empty of a human, but the absence of furniture and personal belongings might cause a problem.

At this point, I am not particularly sure that TGG DOES want to move out.  There isn’t the overwhelming enthusiasm that I remember feeling and exuding when I moved away from my parents.  Dada thinks the same thing: TGG is dreading more than looking forward to this move.

I am sure that the overwhelming dose of reality and responsibility that he has received lately has something to do with TGG not being over-the-moon with joy about moving.  I am also sure that the numbers look daunting to him.  I don’t blame him, but…

It’s time to let go.  It’ll be good for him, and good for J, and good for us…

Right?

The Great Scare of 2014…

Friday night at eleven P.M. we went to wrangle J up to bed.  We had seen him half an hour earlier, waltzing into the dining area looking and acting like his usual self.  What we found when we came into the TV room was J bundled up under a blanket, looking red and trembling.

He was burning up.  From totally normal to nearly 103 degrees in one fell swoop.  A controlled panic settled in immediately, and we moved like a very rational, well-coordinated band of Keystone Kops impersonators up the stairs and to J’s bedroom.

The Bolshoi Ballet had nothing on us in terms of timing, precision and grace…we stripped him down, got the thermometer, the acetaminophen, and the bowl we keep in the closet for medical emergencies.

After we settled him in, I sent everyone to bed so they could take over in the morning if needed.  Every fifteen minutes or so, I checked J’s temp and changed the cooling rags I’d put under his armpits, around his head, on his groin, behind his knees and behind his neck.  We didn’t sleep a wink, and J kept insisting on the word COFFEE over and over again.

With Tchaikovsky’s Arabian Dance on a loop in the background, J started relaxing, and -even though sleep didn’t happen- he was calm as the night progressed into morning.  At around 3:45 a.m., J’s fever broke.  Once the sun came out and I knew he’d not had a fever for a while, I went back to my bed and rested until it was time to take him to Urgent Care.

It isn’t the flu.  It isn’t strep throat.  It’s just a viral upper respiratory “thing” that got a hold of him suddenly, and then petered out slowly.  The highest temperature he’s had since then is 100, and the doctor said that we were to expect that.  Let him rest, give him plenty of fluids, and wait…

Mind you, on Saturday morning I was basically useless and non-functional.  I swam in a rather large cup of coffee, and I managed to sort of wake up.  After a long, sleepless, and definitely uncomfortable and unpleasant night, J was as fresh as a daisy…bright-eyed (NOT because of the fever,) bushy-tailed, hungry and enthusiastic.  All this is, of course, the result of the difference in our ages…thirty years are nothing to scoff at, and J took his sleepless, feverish night in stride while his mother turned into a babbling, caffeine-fueled fool who was ever so glad she doesn’t make a living defusing bombs…

The rest of the day on Saturday, all of yesterday and today we’ve kept him at home, and tomorrow he will return to school fully recovered from whatever ailment caused this night of stress.

As I sat on J’s bed on Friday/Saturday, I checked lists of symptoms for all sorts of things: meningitis, scarlet fever, tropical diseases he couldn’t possibly have contracted given he hasn’t been to the tropics since 1999…  I texted his teacher and asked if anyone had traveled outside of the country or state, if anyone had been sent home sick, if anyone had stayed at school sick…aside from a run-of-the-mill cold, everyone was fine and attending as usual.

I didn’t ask these questions because I feared he’d been exposed to Ebola, but rather because I wanted to answer the questions truthfully and in an informed manner when we got to the doctor’s office.  I’m glad I asked; there was an almost-obvious sigh of relief when they heard that J hadn’t been exposed to anything that might trigger a mobilization like the ones seen in Outbreak.  I explained he’d been eating as if nothing (and I went through the list of things he’d consumed the day before, and included the school lunch menu,) and -in spite of the obvious anxiety caused by us hovering over him with rags, meds and thermometer- he’d been in a good mood.

One thing I am now one-hundred percent sure of?  I’m too old for this shit.  And by that I don’t mean I won’t do it when the situation arises, but rather that it takes its toll a lot faster than it did when I was in my twenties, thirties and early forties…  I sometimes wonder how some women manage when they have children in their mid-forties.

When I was 26 and a newly-minted mom of one, I could get up every two hours and the repercussions this had on my body and brain were not catastrophic.  Yes, I once went to work having shaved one leg and not the other (and, yes, it was quite obvious,) but that is part and parcel of the whole “it’s not all about me anymore” gig.  I remember the few times one or both kids were hospitalized (pneumonia was a recurring theme there) I managed to survive the long nights sitting on the uncomfortable chairs in their hospital rooms.  When J was a baby, I breastfed him with one eye closed, and one hand tied behind my back, and wasn’t really that much worse for wear in the mornings. During J’s behavioral crisis a few years ago, we lost a lot of sleep, and we started feeling the effects of our age and the lack of rest. These days?  Well…there’s a reason most women have their children when they’re younger than I am now…

J’s fine.  I’m still recovering.  I don’t have any fever or other symptoms of anything remotely resembling what he had the other night.  I am, however, tired…I didn’t stop being a mom, a wife, a home-maker (I know some will scoff at that word) for one second over the weekend.  With weather coming I didn’t have time to sit back and say “oh, it’ll get taken care of when it gets taken care of,” and I’m glad I didn’t because now we’re ready for the temperature to drop.

I am older, though…and I don’t bounce back like I used to; it’s not just the lack of elastin in my flesh…it’s everything.

Why overhearing the news in the morning can be hazardous to your health…

If your household is anything like ours, you have too many remote controllers, and -in spite of the differences in their appearance- you often pick up and use one you don’t mean to use in an attempt to control a device that will not be persuaded to work unless you use the correct apparatus to send it commands.  We have attempted to use a universal remote controller, and it (as well as all the small appliances we’ve wanted to sync to it) has laughed in our faces while slapping an imaginary knee and uttering “you’re so funny!”

That prologue is to give you a general idea why, on this lovely autumn morning when I was sleep deprived because of a timer that was set to “continuous on” rather than “timed on” and a bout of hot flashes, I used the wrong remote controllers long enough to create “a situation.”  Let me explain, please…

TGG had already left, and Dada was pulling out of the driveway when J requested his Pandora station so that we could have some background music while doing the dishes.  In my sleep-deprived, not-caffeinated-enough state, I grabbed the controller for the TV (so that I could switch it to the right input for the blu-ray player) and the one for the cable box.  By the time I realized my mistake, the words that marked the rest of our day had been uttered by some candidate or pundit while being interviewed on this General Election Day.  The exact words were “today is the day to clean the House and the Senate.”

Oh, crap…

Now, you and I know what is being said in that quote.  It is, unequivocally, a reference to a change in command, a shift in balance, a process of voting out and voting in people.  Regrettably, J’s mind doesn’t work that way, and I have very few resources (unless I dig out his Schoolhouse Rock! DVDs and skip to I’m Just a Bill, and then proceed to wire my son’s thought process to work in the same abstract loops and circles that a neurotypical person’s does) to keep J from homing in on “today is the day to clean the house” in a literal way.

Technology, aided by my clumsy, middle-aged, and obviously addled by the knowledge that my son would take this as any autistic individual would, moved at such a glacial pace that by the time I’d switched the TV to HDMI2 and had turned on the blu-ray player my morning had been mapped out by J.  He had the paper towels, duster, spray cleaners, rags, vacuum cleaner, trash bags and a from-ear-to-ear grin on his handsome face.

TGG was a believing child.  He believed that fairies were dancing on the lawn when it was just fireflies, and that toadstools popped up overnight because the fairies were having a camp-out.  He believed in Santa Claus, the Great Pumpkin (if Linus said so…well…,) the Three Wise Men, the Man In the Moon, and all sorts of fantastic notions that, as he got older, he let go of without losing his ability to imagine wonderful fancies.  He wasn’t a literal child.  If I said “it’s raining cats and dogs,” TGG wouldn’t step out to see if felines and canines were falling from the sky, but he could laugh at this picture in his mind.  J, on the other hand, is -like many autistic individuals- a literal person.  What you say is what he picks up…exactly.

Saying things like “bring me that box” can be too general.  Unless there is ONE box and J can’t fail to realize that’s THE box I want, he will stand there and wait until I’m more specific.  I can’t just say “please, bring me some water;” I have to say “please, bring me a water bottle.”  J has reacted with great curiosity upon hearing the expressions “I think I just opened a can of worms,” “you could’ve knocked me over with a feather,” “shake a leg.”  Like Noah Webster in Tex Avery’s old MGM cartoon Symphony in Slang (http://vimeo.com/100989067), J pictures EXACTLY what he’s being told.

The house has been cleaned from top to bottom, and -thankfully- J hasn’t pressed the issue on cleaning the Senate.  I don’t even know how I’d start to explain, in terms that he could grasp and handle properly, what the Senate actually is, and why the expression about cleaning the legislature came up this morning.

I’m counting my blessings.  J could have heard something far worse that could have made for an even more grueling day.  I try to steer him clear from the news because, well, he might hear something that confuses him and sets the tone for his school day.  The one time I had to worry about TGG being a “believing” child resulted in an impromptu trip to the beach house to retrieve him from a weekend with Dada’s father and his nieces and nephews.  The Discovery Channel had a show about how Skylab had fallen after many years of service in orbit.  They referred to it as “the space hotel.”  TGG was actually worried that this thing was going to drop on his loved ones and flatten them, and the other kids (knowing that there was a language barrier there) ran with the situation, egging him on to an even greater level of panic.

Eight year-old TGG was quickly set to rights by Dada, who sat him down and explained that Skylab had been down for a while already, and that -in spite of our best intentions- we can never guarantee that some freak accident won’t happen to us, or to those we love.  Unlike the young protagonist of Zenna Chlarson Henderson’s short story “The Believing Child,” TGG wasn’t overwhelmed by what he’d heard.

J, on the other hand, takes thing literally, and we have to carefully weigh what we’re going to say.  Most of the time the TV is white noise that he doesn’t pay attention to, but this morning he was waiting for something to emanate from it, and he got instructions rather than entertainment…

The house is clean…the Senate will have to take care of itself.

November arrives…

If the seasons had been sluggish in trading places, they’ve caught up with a great deal of enthusiasm all of a sudden.  Sweaters and jackets are now in the rotation, but no snow has yet materialized in our area.  We’ve seen that other areas not too distant from ours have actually seen snow, but we’re still waiting.  We will be glad to wait a little longer; scraping frost off the windshields is enough for the time being.

Flu shots have been checked off the Autumn List, and J has switched hats for the season.  A nice tweed newsboy cap has replaced his panama hat when he leaves the house.  In of doors, of course, he still lounges about looking like Don Corleone in his summer garden.  That the Rasta hat and his rugby helmet have become “nightwear” kept exclusively for sleeping is a fantastic development.  The boy who seemed permanently attached to his boxing gloves and his two hats is now a young man who will switch hats to suit the weather, and whose boxing gloves are mere decorative touches in his bedroom.  He is leaner (thanks to his new eating habits and his hour-long trip to the gym each evening,) and he is happier…

I would like to give you a detailed timeline of how we got “here,” but I’m not entirely sure I can map things as simply as I’d like.  There has been a lot (A LOT) of trial-and-error, and quite a bit of frustration and back-to-the-drawing-board.  J has helped significantly in this whole process.  I don’t know if it’s as simple as “he’s matured,” or if it’s more a “he’s decided to trust our wisdom.”  I don’t know if we’ve just created a collective wisdom from the shared experience of being up to our shoulders in emotional muck.  Being J’s parents is exhausting; I’m sure the parents of other kids on the spectrum will concur.  It IS rewarding when it goes right, and it is tremendously frustrating when it goes wrong.  That it’s going mostly right reduces the hamster-on-a-wheel feeling.

The year has been challenging.  Our fathers’ illnesses have added another weight to our emotional baggage.  Losing Dada’s father was a hard slap in the face, and we’re still working through getting used to that new aspect of our everyday lives.  My father is improving within the scope of what is expected for a man his age who has suffered a stroke, and my stepmom is working very hard to keep him going, to help him heal as much as he can.  It is, as with all these situations, a good-today-not-so-good-tomorrow-better-the-next-day scenario.  My father’s memory is better in some areas than in others, and it is those who have been physically closer to him over the past fifteen years who fare best at being remembered.  One cannot fault the man; familiarity, proximity, intimacy make people less ethereal and abstract in such circumstances.

J, meanwhile, seems more sure of himself, and responds much better to things that would have caused a meltdown a mere few years ago.  On Halloween he came home with a good selection of candy provided by his classmates, and I felt no trepidation telling him that he could only choose two pieces to eat on that day.  He looked through the container carefully, made his selection, and put the candy away without any complaints.  He didn’t think of the candy again until last night; he asked for candy after dinner and, since he doesn’t like apple pie, I told him he could have two pieces.  He looked through the container once more, made his choice, thanked us, and went to check the laundry.  There was not a hint of the kid who used to stamp his foot, scream his head off, hit his head…

In January we will go back to the psych to reduce J’s med again.  Now that we are more settled and there is less travel back and forth, the time is finally right to prepare for this next step.  The only travel we see in the not-too-distant future is TGG striking out on his own to study in another state.  The move is still a few months away, but I’m sure that it will be a testy transition for J because he is so used to having his brother around.  The decision has come about because the time for evolving to a more independent state of adulthood is right, and the only thing we’ve asked from TGG is to make sure all his proverbial ducks are in a row before he strikes out to the Big Wide World…

Dada’s job situation is evolving, too.  It’s all for the good, but that doesn’t make it less exciting.  The HR group he works under is being transitioned to IT, and with this comes a move to another office, another building, another traffic route.  Different responsibilities, more people to interact with, a different stage of his professional life.  What travel was expected for the end of the year is now pushed back to a possibility for the month of March, and we’ll deal with that when the time gets closer.  I am happy for him; I like seeing him excited about challenges that await him, about prospects that open up.

As for me…well…let’s just say I’m about to turn fifty.  I have discovered that there’s a great deal of rediscovery that comes with this rite of passage.  I have discovered that there are things I still want to do, and that I can still do them.  I remember my aunts saying that a time would come when I’d gladly say “you know what?  NO!”  I think that time is approaching.  I find myself more and more interested in helping other people, doing things for others, finding ways to contribute, and there’s a great deal of pleasure in not being acknowledged for it.  Whatever degree of excitement I glean from the little things I manage to do for people I don’t even know is the kind of thing I hug to myself.  Well, Dada gets to hug it to himself, too…we’re sort of co-conspirators in those little moments that shine brighter because they are meant for someone else.

With J’s emotional stability we seem to have found a center that eluded us before; we are off-center by nature, but now we seem to be purposefully so, and we are making it work in other ways to benefit other people.  J’s happiness and comfort go a long way to helping us achieve tranquility, and actually make everyone in the household more productive.  The difference between our productivity during the rougher spots in the process of raising J and our productivity now is that we no longer feel guilty when we lay aside a task to simply be for a while.  Everything gets done, but not frantically…

Not a bad development that’s been many years in the making, I say…

And with that I leave you until tomorrow.

A quick note…

I’m sorry I’ve been absent.  Nothing bad is happening, but things have been busy around here.  I do have things to tell, and I will take time tomorrow (I think I say that every day) to sit and catch up with all that’s been going on around here.  I won’t go into long-winded, Tolstoy-like detail, but I will bring this page up to speed.  I promise.

The fact that J will no longer be a teenager in a little over two months doesn’t escape me.  I am still wondering (pondering, spelunking in my brain) whether what I have to say would be helpful once we’re past the terrible aspect of the teen years that every parent of an autistic individual is vaguely informed about and isn’t quite prepared for…  I will have a 20 year-old in the house; granted: he thinks and acts much, much younger than that from time to time, but…

I will be back tomorrow.  I will tell you things.  Will they be interesting, funny, or helpful?  I don’t know.  I hope so.