It’s the sixth, and I’m finally ready to start January. I’m aware the new month has already started, but it usually takes me a few days to get every appointment, every sports event and every outing listed on our big family wall calendar. Once everything is on the calendar, I breathe a little sigh of relief. Sometimes, I’m completely organized for the month ahead. Other times, I’m far from it.
Prepared or not, each time that I turn a calendar page over, I get a little excited. I look at what we’ve accomplished in the last four weeks with a big smile. We’ve done so much! That’s a good feeling to have. Wanting to keep the momentum, I look at what’s recorded for the next month’s activities and add anything new that’s popped up. A different feeling come over me this time as I scan the page – Holy smokes! We have so much to do. Putting it back on the wall where we can all see it, I walk away from the calendar hoping that I haven’t forgotten anyone or anything.
My expectations are great. They have to be. There’s lots of us Jamesons living here in our home. While we are one unit, each of us have our own things going on. If I don’t carefully plan for what’s coming up, someone’s practice, game, or appointment could get forgotten. Being forgotten is almost as bad as double booking myself, which I’ve accidentally done before. So as not to make any mistakes, I also try to plan farther out than just the next four weeks. I did that last week when I turned multiple calendar pages to add birthdays, anniversaries, six-month follow up visits and more through to the end of 2020. I know I’ll be better prepared months down the road when I see the reminders I jotted down this week.
Peeking at the rest of the year wasn’t a bad idea. As I got closer to the final months, I knew that we’d have both a countdown and a count up ahead. Ronan turns 18 this year. 18!
T-minus 11 months to adulthood.
T-plus(?) 11 months to guardianship.
Ronan’s birthday will certainly be joyous. We’ll celebrate it by taking Ronan out to his favorite restaurant. We’ll shower his with gifts and remember all the good that he’s brought to our lives. Besides carrying on our old, standby traditions, if Ronan continues to need the care he needs today, his next birthday will include a new beginning—that little thing called guardianship.
I’ve yet to read everything there is to know about the transition Ronan, and we, will experience when he turns 18. I’ve heard a lot, I’ve seen a lot of parents go through the process, but I still have much to do to prepare for it. Petitions, trusts, and a care plan are top of the list. Another list, this one of people to talk to, will also have resources of local and state agencies I’ll want to check out. Several of the people on that list, including one whom I’ll get to speak to as early as tomorrow, are already very familiar with my son and his intensive needs.
These people are aware of the many supports he requires and have been generous with their time by showing me the ropes the last few years. Their realm of expertise may not have include adult services, but I plan on keeping them connected as much as possible so that I can stay as informed as possible. Being fully informed – in the past, that’s one thing that I didn’t always have on my side. Being without it changed life drastically for us. I didn’t know it during my early parenting years, but this quote is one I live by now and have said more times than I can count – had I known then what I know now, I would have made different choices than I did.
I absolutely would.
So as not to leave any stone unturned, tomorrow, when my kids return to school, I’m going to read about the major changes ahead. I’m going to ask questions. I’m going to take notes and bookmark websites. Every day until Ronan’s next birthday, I’ll keep reading and exploring what lies ahead because I want to be prepared as best I can be. I would have loved to have tiptoed into the New Year a bit quieter, but I can’t. Ronan’s future, because of his past, depends on me being the most organized I’ve ever had to be. Hopefully, with all that I’ll learn, his future will come with new possibilities. I’m always be hopeful for that.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.