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Birthdays. Milestones. Changes.

In just a few days, our families will get to celebrate Brady, who is turning 18. It’s a big deal, right? Eighteen says “adult”. You can vote, get a tattoo, have your nose pierced, buy a house, and even get your own Costco card! For most seventeen year-old kids, eighteen is what they’ve been waiting for. It’s like hitting the jackpot, winning the laurel wreath and eating the whole cake - and the icing - all on the same day! Cora’s birthday is the very next day after Brady’s and she’ll be fourteen. Some people jokingly say they celebrate their birthday week or even their birthday month, but Cora starts preparing for her party 364 days in advance. Really, the whole year is just one big event planning session all focused on her next journey around the sun. And milestone birthdays? Huge! Needless to say, she keeps us busy getting ready for her big day.

Now, both these birthdays are coming with some pretty big transitions. Brady has already started the paperwork that dictates adult services. There are forms to be filled out and questions to be answered, not to mention all those hoops! To be sure, this is a birthday that brings with it some stress and worry for the unknown. Cora’s birthday also has it’s tricky side. She’ll be working through her triennial evaluation as she gets ready to head into high school next fall. Just thinking about the move from her middle school home where she is known and loved stokes my anxiety. For both our families, the spring will be one marked by change and uncertainty.

In some regards, this is what we’ve come to expect as the moms of kids with disabilities. There’s always something, right? Another piece of paper to read and sign, another meeting, another appointment. Everyday happenings and celebratory events come with a little bit extra worry, a little bit extra stress. This year, though, feels big. Eighteen, fourteen, adulthood and high school. Ugh. It would be so easy to focus on the big, scary unknown aspect of these two birthdays. Tena and I could both get so caught up in all the processes and details that it would be easy to forget two things: Brady and Cora.

If you’ve never met Brady and Cora, you might not know that while they aren’t always happy, they are always real. They love well and encourage the people they care about. Laughter is their specialty, as are hugs and smiles and kind words. Both enjoy a Disney musical, a good pizza, and time with their moms. You could throw a list of positive superlatives at them and every single one would stick. Brady and Cora are, day in and day out, joyful people. You can probably imagine, then, what these next few days are going to be like as they both live in a state of anticipation about the two most important days of the year. It will be epic and you can bet that their big smiles are going to give me and Tena bigger ones. And for a little while, we’ll put down the reports and the consent forms and just keep our eyes on that.

Happy Birthday, Brady. Happy Birthday, Cora.

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