Today was an ordinary Sunday except that Tommy, Alyssa, Sam and Samantha went to the Yankee game and Lelly went to her friend’s house to go swimming and have a barbecue. The ordinary-ness of today is that I picked up Thomas from his group home and we went to the mall so I could return a top at Macy’s. Of course I came home with a dress in place of the top. Gotta keep things even.
Usually it’s Tommy, Samantha, Thomas and I; sometimes Lelly together on a Sunday. Today was just Thomas and me. A combo that hasn’t been seen in a long time. I picked him up at 1:30 after I went to church and we headed for the mall. He was very well behaved, not surprising because my son loves to shop. I’m not sure who he gets that from… Thomas and I chatted while I shopped quickly after returning the top. A quick detour to the pretzel stand and we were on our way home. A successful excursion!
We rode hone and I stopped for gas. Thomas was so well behaved as he waited in the car at the self serve station. Where I live we pump our own gas. We were then off to home or as Thomas calls it “your house.” He doesn’t call my home his home anymore. He calls the group home where he lives “my house.” At first that stung a little. Even when Thomas was in residential school he called our house “home.” It’s an odd feeling to hear your child call someplace else their home (or house) no matter how logical it is for it to happen.
I’ve discovered it’s a funny thing to make the decision to have your adult child live in a group home. It’s not a decision that many understand even though they themselves are living with a special needs adult child. Tommy and I weren’t given much of a choice given Thomas’ behavior which compromised our safety. Many parents I’ve spoken to say they aren’t ready and I respect that but at the same time I don’t know what that’s like because Tommy and I had to get ready; fast.
I often want to ask other parents when will they be ready? I’m not saying having your special needs child reside in a group home is the best thing since sliced bread or the only plan parents should have, but what plans are being made for the future? To expect your other children to take over their care is not fair and somewhat unrealistic. I expect our other children to be in contact with Thomas when Tommy and I are no longer living and I expect one or more to become his legal guardian, but I can’t expect them to have Thomas live with them and provide care for him.
I’m probably quite biased and this post could ruffle a few feathers because having Thomas live in a group home has been so far a positive experience for him and for us, thank God. The group home has an open door policy meaning at any given time we can go see Thomas unannounced. Don’t get me wrong I still feel this pang in my heart when I drop him off after spending the day with him. I wonder what it would’ve been like to have been a “normal” special needs family (whatever that may be) where our son didn’t need to attend residential school and then live in a group home. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned as Thomas’ mother is that situations are not about what you want, it’s what’s best for your child. And God will make a way when there doesn’t seem to be a way. Okay that’s 2 things.