“A ship is safest in the harbor, but that is not what ships are built for.” John Shedd. This was my the quote my friend Sharon had under her senior photo in our high school year book. As my children’s IEPs began to reference transition in their later years of high school, I remembered it and it became my motto. At the time, I put this quotation in my email signature lines both at home and at work to remind myself on a daily basis that my kids could not stay in the harbor. It was not healthy for them or for Ralph and me.
As a result, I began taking concrete steps to move our whole family toward transition. When my youngest daughter, Patty, was 12 years old, I went back to school to become a legal secretary. When she was 14, I graduated and started working. I told my kids, “I need to have something to do when you don’t need me anymore.” This type of language combined with concrete action (going back to school), helped all of us to move toward transitioning to independence.
Transition is the theme of this blog, so I thought I would update you on how transition is working out in our household.
Mary is living at home. She is working at a homeless shelter as a part-time accounting assistant in the accounting department. This fall, she also worked part-time at Habitat for Humanity for three months, but due to personnel changes, her position was eliminated. She is actively looking for full-time work. She says that when she finds a permanent position, and she has saved enough money, she will find her own place. Her brother’s transition to independent living has spurred her on. I have some reservations regarding how this will happen; however, at some point, she must live on her own separate from us. She has amazed us before; she will again.
Will has been living in his own apartment in another city for a year and a half now. He became a regular employee (rather than a long-term supplemental employee) in October. Now he has vacation time, a 401(k), and salary. He drives his beat up old car around his community. This Sunday, he will be singing in a cantata at his church. We are looking forward to seeing him at Christmas. My husband talks to him a little bit every weekday morning on the phone. I talk to him a couple times a week. He would like to meet a girl and get married. It could happen.
Patty is finishing up her senior year in college. We are pushing her to learn how to drive. Like many millennials, she is afraid of driving, but in order for her to transition to studying for her Masters/PhD, she must learn to drive. One more semester, and the Kilter College Taxi Service will cease to operate.
As for Ralph and me, we are beginning the process of transitioning to retirement. Ralph is by some miracle and perseverance and prayer, still working. (He has gone through six months of harassment at work – his employer would like him to quit). He is 62 and would like to work until 65, or at least get close. I am 54 and hope to work until I am 65. But the process of thinking about living with far less income has us thinking seriously about downsizing. Maybe we’ll have more time for volunteering. Have more time for fun activities.