Lately I have been having a lot of conversations with friends about our experiences with moving Zach into a residential placement. Now before I go any further I have to say I know that some of you are shaking your heads and saying your I nevers. That is OK, my life experiences aren’t yours and vice versa.
It has been a little over five months since we moved Zach, and though this by no means makes me an expert, I am coming to some important realizations.
Before Zach moved I wrote blogs about how challenging our life was. I wrote blogs about how autism and ring 22 syndrome affected me, my daughter, my husband. I wrote about feeling imprisoned by autism and how pissed I was about not being able to lead a “typical” life because of autism and ring 22 syndrome. I am not denying the challenges or the difficulties. I will not be making a retraction of any of the stories I told. But what I failed miserably at portraying was how all of this affected Zach.
It is funny how you can see things so much more clearly from the outside looking in. A little extra sleep and time to yourself allows you to become much more introspective and lucid.
It all hit me like a wrecking ball the other day as I was talking with a friend who is currently in the process of looking for a just right spot for her son. She asked how Zach was doing and if he was happy.
I have been answering this question for months now and the answer is always the same. “He is doing great, he seems very happy.” In the beginning I think I had to convince myself that what I was saying was true. I doubted my decision, I questioned my motives and felt selfish for what we had done. But as time has gone on, I know without hesitation that he IS happy and he IS doing great.
As I described to her how he seemed much calmer and how he enjoys coming to visit but that he is always ready to go back, how he smiles when he sees the caregivers and runs to hug them I started to cry. That is when it hit me…..All of this time I had felt so held back by autism and ring 22 syndrome when in reality we were also holding Zach back.
My fear of him eloping, my anxiety over taking him anywhere for fear I couldn’t handle him in public, my resentment, not of him but of the difficulties, the locks on the doors to keep him safe, were imprisoning him just as much as us.
I had selfishly thought that we were the only ones who could care for him and make him happy but much to our surprise he wanted and needed what so many other young men and women his age want and need…Independence, room to grow, autonomy.
I will always be there for my kids, I will always be there as an advocate and as a champion for their happiness and safety. But I am beginning to realize that even though my son will need a lifetime of care, he wants to spread his wings and live his life to the fullest.
Yesterday we had a snow day. I called out to the house to see how Zach was doing being snowed in. Admittedly I feared that I would hear him crying and having a difficult time in the back ground or that they would tell me he was struggling. Instead, I heard giggling and happy sounds as he hung out with the rest of his roomies and caregivers.
Today was snow day number two. My mother’s intuition told me for sure today was going to be difficult. I called again and offered to come out for a visit and to bring lunch for everyone. Imagine my surprise when I was told he was relaxing and watching a movie and that the whole house was going out to lunch later. They didn’t need me to swoop in and “rescue” them or him.
I guess sometimes momma doesn’t know best. And I am OK with that.
Days like these I know we did the right thing……for all of us.