We took Thomas out for breakfast this morning. We hadn’t seen him since his 18th birthday earlier this month. It was so awesome to see him and spend a little time together. What’s even more awesome is how he’s adjusted to living away from us. Thomas honestly looks happy. Happy to be there with people who have more patience and structure than we’ll ever have. It stings though. Stings that we aren’t able to provide what he needs. I used to joke and say one day I would be an old lady living with Thomas…and 6 cats. These days I don’t joke like that anymore because my son will be living away from me. I’ll probably still have the 6 cats though.
I never thought I’d see my son so independent of us. I’m happy for him. He still needs us as his family but he doesn’t need us for his day to day living. The staff at his school now fills that need. I’m ok with that too. It occurred to me while driving home that there were so many times during Thomas’ childhood that I couldn’t wait for him to be older, mainly so we could obtain a proper diagnosis and treatment. We/I was jerked around so badly by so many professionals it made for Thomas’ childhood to be very trying to put it lightly. I’m stunned at how fast the past 18 years have gone by. Stunned. Yet like most mothers I can recall certain memories as if they were literally yesterday. I don’t want to go back in time, once a go ’round was quite enough for me thanks. I remember so many people telling me to enjoy my kids when they were much younger and me scoffing at them. What the hell did they know about my life? I did enjoy them the best I was able to. As a parent of older teens I see how fast time flies but I won’t tell other parents to “enjoy them while they’re little”. It’s not all fun and games, in my opinion anyway.
With my older kids I’ve enjoyed and are still enjoying every stage. Some more than others. These teen years can give anyone a run for their money. Then I have Samantha who’s almost 8 and she gives me a totally different perspective. I have the opportunity to do some things differently but not like night and day parenting. My core parenting style has not changed.
But getting back to Thomas and how things are so very different that I ever imagined they would be. I always saw myself as being his care giver. At least until he entered a group home and I never had an imagined time that would be. It was always “somewhere” in the future but don’t ask me when. I never imagined he would acclimate to this school like he has. There are no tears when we say good bye, no long torturous, please don’t leave goodbyes. There’s like today, “Thomas would you like to hang out a bit after breakfast?” The answer I received? “No…bye!” He had things to do, he spent time with us and breakfast was over. And that’s ok.