Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's Next?

Took Rojo to the doctor for a camp physical. For a boy that never washes his hands, eats the least nutritious diet of anyone I know, doesn't exercise, etc., he is pretty much the picture of health. He hadn't been to the doctor, not once, since his last physical a year ago. In that year he's gained 21 pounds. In two years he's gained 36. At 15 1/2 years-old and 5 ' 8" he's still not even 100 lbs. He has a ways to go, but we're heading in the right direction. Every pound that boy gains, takes a good month off my life, I swear. What he'll eat, when and where is a full-time job.

Had three dear long-term friends over for dinner last week. They've known me since before I was married, before Woohoo, before Rojo. We were talking about "what's next" for each of us. I said I was just riding this lull I'm in, and not sure at all about what's next. "I can't really work, because I will always have Rojo to take care of when he's not in school, and anything else I do needs to fit in around that, I can never get him to fit in around whatever else it is I do."

"Obviously," they all agreed.

I did the math. Rojo has three more school years left. Three more years where for 9 months of the year he'll go to school at least most of the days. After that he'll be in some sort of transition program, but the chances that it will be M-F for full days are pretty slim. Then he'll be mine, mine, mine. I will work like a dog to get him some meaningful employment, but let's face it, it will not be full-time and will require my involvement.

STM tells me all the time he won't make it to 60. Woohoo is leaving for college in the fall. We have three elderly parents. Not to be morbid or pessimistic, but the fact remains, it is inevitable that I will be the full-time caregiver of a very hyper, differently abled person eventually.

All that goes into my thinking when people ask me, "What's next?" As most of my dear friends are, or are on the brink of being, empty nesters, I have come to accept that my path takes me elsewhere. True, STM may live a good long time. True, other angels are in our lives and will doubtlessly continue to come into our lives, and I will never be "alone." True, Rojo may be able to live in some sort of supported housing situation at some point. True, none of us really knows what's around the corner, we just think we do, and as I always say, "The only difference is special needs parents just know that they don't know."


The question for right now is, how do I want to spend the next three years of my life? Writing? Re-writing? Volunteering? Cleaning up the same messes over and over and over? Re-decorating my house? Taking a class? Learning how to do something new? Sitting on my can playing Solitaire?

I don't know. And if I've learned anything, it's when you don't know what to do, do nothing.

* Photo from http://redpenconfessions


Wanda said...

And do lots of it! Sounds like moving to Disneyland is a pretty good idea after all.

kario said...

You are hitting deep in the heart of my struggle today and I thank you for the last sentence of this post. My circumstances are somewhat different, but I deal with the same knowledge that my needs come second most of the time, or at least they are usurped in times when the youngsters need me, because I'm the most available parent. It does make you wonder what to do with your time and energy that can be quickly capped off in a time when someone else needs you.

I've struggled with it, but today I'm taking your advice and not making a decision or worrying about it anymore. Today. I may need to come back and read this post every morning as a reminder.

Love you. said...

Well said. Do nothing. Percolate. Love yourself. That's all that is required.

Anonymous said...

I like that - when you don't know what to do - do nothing - I have big time troubles with that one....... I feel I need to find something to do no matter what.

Elizabeth said...

I've been doing a lot of sighing today, and you're post makes me lift my head and listen. Thank you.

Amber said...

Spend it taking CARE OF YOU. All you can! That is what you need to do, and without guilt. Do it.


Alicia (Dr. Mom) said...

Im several years off of empty nesting since i had my last 3 children much later in life. in fact im 43 (cough cough) and have a 4 year old--- what was i THINKING!! however, i could relate to you being so close to that transition time with Rojo. my oldest will be 17 soon and her school goes until 21. its time to start planning, bc it will all be here in the blink of an eye.

I always think "it will all work out the way it will work out." Mb its a cop out, but i have faith that the universe will always "right" itself and the anticipatory anxiety about something is always worse than the actual something. it all turns out good in the end :)

Leslie at SugarAndSpiceADK. said...

Spending a lot of time these days wondering, too, "what's next?" for me....hating the empty nest thing (why is it I always want what I don't have?...), don't have much energy, due to this dumb illness, to truly get motivated to actually DO I to be a "kept" woman for the rest of my days? THANK YOU for this post, Carrie....we are all so much alike!