Two years ago, I gave my daughter a memorable sixteenth birthday. The December before, I had won the biggest door prize my company Christmas party had to offer: a $1,000 gift certificate to our corporate travel agency. With that and a pretty decent tax refund, I booked a trip for the two of us to London.
Neither of us had ever been, and while I had a decent tax refund, the amount I had left over to throw at this trip as spending money was more than a little modest after I finish paying all my accumulated bills.
We weren't exactly living a life of luxury those five days. The only extravagance on the menu was a coach tour I booked for our final day there. We had both wanted to see Stonehenge, but after reading all the reviews I knew that the standard tour was likely going to disappoint us. There's a perimeter path about a hundred yards away, circling the stones. You arrive on a bus, park in the parking lot next to several dozen other buses, and all of you walk that perimeter path. That's as close as you can get to the stones.
It's time for me to repaint the downstairs bathroom. I know that doesn't seem like a big deal but really, it is.
Years ago, when the ex moved out, I stood there in the rubble surveying the house - or more specifically the things left in the house. There were so many things we'd accumulated during our twenty-plus years together. So many things that were selected together, compromise on, fought over, or begrudgingly given into as a concession toward something the other really wanted to buy.
The ex and I were people with very different tastes when it came to decorating. I like subtle, muted tones on my walls and bright, flamboyant, or dramatic artwork. I could comfortably live in a stonewalled cottage with a decidedly Bohemian flare.
That's it - I'm outta here. The Mom job is done. All those months of planning before you were born, all those years of scheduling and envisioning and carefully (or ham-handedly) guiding you through the childhood I carefully cultivated and into the brightly lit future I had all graphed out for you - done. Finito.
Tomorrow is World Autism Awareness Day, and at this stage in the game, I'm going to bet you're probably aware of it by now. What I wish we'd move to is World Autism Inclusion Day, where we all make an effort to reach out, to communicate, to see things from a different perspective and to encourage compassion and kindness instead of fearmongering and irritation.
So yes, by now you've seen the multicolored puzzle ribbons and hearts, the blue tee shirts and blue light bulbs. Maybe you've even been following Humans of New York as they visited the players and coaches at the World Special Olympics these last few weeks. You undoubtedly know there are a lot of kids with autism, and hopefully you've read enough legitimate medical news to know they didn't get that way by being vaccinated.