Sunday, July 20, 2014

Charting a Different Course

Thing 2 is on a roll.

     He's been at his job for a full month now.  He's learning the ropes.  He's earning the praises of his supervisors.  He's getting paid. It's all good stuff.  He's also overcome a paralyzing amount of fear to even walk through the doors as the New Guy those first few days.  He's figured out how to get himself home every day. He's reconfigured his social life to make sure he gets to bed early enough. (He starts work at 4 AM daily.)  He's adjusted his medication schedule. 

He's really doing it.

     I don't think my son believed he actually could. If I'm being honest, I'm not sure I believed he actually could.  I'm am so very delighted to be proven wrong.  

And that's not all.

     On his own, he went to the bank with his first paychecks and opened a checking account.  He went to HR to complete the paperwork to have his future paychecks directly deposited into that new checking account. He went to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and got his learner's permit.   Did I mention he did this on his own? 

     Maybe you aren't impressed.  He is nearly 22-years-old after all. None of these accomplishments are earth shattering.  All of his classmates are way beyond this. Hell, his own sister, Thing 1, managed all this as a teenager.  I get it.  I do. See, I had a gut-punched moment a few weeks ago, when a neighbor boy from my son's class in high school came by to show off his new sports car that he paid for with the money he earned from his prestigious internship.  He starts his senior year at business college on top of the world. I've known this boy since he was in middle school. He's a dope, the way that all young men are at that age. Yet, here he is succeeding all over the place.  And for a few days after that, I was wrecked, absolutely wrecked, because they weren't my boy's successes, too.

     Here's the thing, though.  I cannot compare my son to the other boys from his class. There is no getting around the fact that my son has significant mental health issues that make a traditional trajectory into adulthood impossible. That's just how it is.  I am blessed to have friends who also have kids who need to take different routes through their lives who remind me that I'm not alone. When one makes a tuna sandwich for his mother, when another plays baseball in between visits to his cardiologist, when one makes eye contact and initiates conversation with someone, it's the equivalent of that paid internship. We have shared plenty of rough days when there were medical crises and academic set backs. So it is only right that together we rejoice in our children's victories. They may not be a big deal to other parents, but given what we know our kids have overcome to earn them, they are a huge deal to us.

     And I am relentlessly optimistic.  My boy is on his way. He is working really hard to manage his anxiety so that he can move out on his own. He, himself, has discussed an ambitious "at the beginning of the school year" date for having his own apartment.  College is not off of his--or my--list. There is typical young man talk about getting into a band. (Oh how I would love to see him playing music again, truth be told.)  There are so many opportunities available for my son. 

The road doesn't dead end for him.  We just don't have the whole map unfolded yet.