By Cathy Jameson
We had a long and lazy summer. The best part of the summer was that on any given day, my kids had no idea what day it was. They lost track of what time it was too. Our summer days were alarm clock-free and saw no mad dashes to get us anywhere. We woke up when we wanted and we did whatever we wanted to. The only plan I made was to make no plans. This summer we needed to just be. So we did. And it was glorious.
Toward the end of August, I had to mentally prepare myself for the impending changes towards the end of August. A new school year was right around the corner. That meant early wake ups, mad dashes and a lot more structure than what we had happily gotten used to. I wasn’t ready to embrace the busier schedule that was about to begin, but I was ready to do something different.
With the extra time I knew I’d have while the big kids were busy at school and while Ronan’s therapy schedule kept him occupied, I thought that maybe I would venture out of the house. I crave to help others, so I thought that maybe this could be the year that I would finally have time to do that. I’d thought I’d start by volunteering more than once at the kids’ school. I saw myself assisting in the classrooms, in the lunchroom, and at recess.
I got an even wilder idea the closer we got to the first day of school.
I thought maybe, just maybe, I would finally return to the workforce. Yes! That’s what I’d do. Even if it was just part-time and even if it was in a completely different field than my former career, I would go back to work. I’d have a new purpose, I’d be useful to others, and I’d once again bring home a paycheck. The day after I decided to pursue employment, Ronan landed in the emergency room.
So much for my grand plans.
Ronan is fine now, thankfully, but just when I think I can finally do something different, I’m reminded of one thing. My job is to be here, at home, with my family, and especially with Ronan. His health needs can be intense and are often unpredictable. I would be devastated if I was somewhere else doing my own thing and unable to assist him.
Some days I think that I could be useful elsewhere to others. I know I already am when I share Ronan’s story, our struggles and how our family’s experience has changed each one of us – both for the worse and for the better. I also know that I’m fulfilling a purposeful life each and every day. It may not have been the life I ever wished for, but it’s a life that I do live fully day in and day out.
The day in and day out monotony can and does wear me down, which drives my desire to do something completely different, but I’m not giving up on who has been placed before me. I still crave to offer my time and talents to others, and I’ll find a way to do that. But today, right now, my focus must be on Ronan and his many, many needs.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.