There’s nothing quite like a health crisis to remind us why we are working toward transition for our kids.
On Wednesday, I took Ralph to the ER to have IV fluids administered for acute renal failure (or acute kidney injury).
When I took him to the doctor, he was found to have lost 29 pounds in the space of a month, between doctors’ appointments. The doctor said that sent Ralph for labs, and depending on the results, might send him to the ER for IV fluids.
There was no call, so I hoped/assumed that the tests had been okay. So I went back work for the afternoon and then took Mary to her computer certification class. Shortly after we arrived home after her class, Ralph received a phone call from the doctor telling him to go to the ER because he was in acute renal failure. We spent the next four hours at the ER. The doctor there said that it was kidney injury rather than renal failure, and we were allowed to go home.
Ralph is still very weak and is wondering if he should retire from his physically demanding job. If that happens, we will need to move from our four bedroom house to something smaller with fewer maintenance demands and less cost. We have been talking about this for over a year, but this event has brought more urgency to the discussion.
Our youngest daughter will probably move away from home within the year. However, because Mary will probably live with us for at least a little while, we need a two bedroom apartment or condo. We could move to a senior apartment complex if Mary were living on her own. We suggested a few weeks ago that she might want to live in the same complex, or if she gets a full time job, maybe in the same condo community. Always, I my urge to take care of her comes to the fore.
But at some point, Mary will need to live independently. Or perhaps with her brother. I’ve known a few people with lower IQs who lived on their own.
Ralph probably will recover fully. However, like many parents of special children, we have to think about the future for our oldest daughter. A friend at work said to me, “Why are you so concerned about Mary living on her own? Can’t she live with you?”
“Yes, she can live with us for as long as she can, but eventually, she will need live independently.”
What you could say to your work friend is this: “No. She cannot stay with us her entire life, because in the natural order of things, parents don’t outlive their children. As we certainly hope our children will outlive us, and also would like to spare them the trauma of their entire lives being destroyed by the loss of their safety net at some point when they are in their own twilight years, we would rather get them out and on their own as soon as is feasible for them. Plus, adults do want their own space, even if the idea frightens them… Didn’t you, when you were Mary’s age?”
I’m sorry if I seem angry; your friend poses a question I’ve had to field more than once, even with my kids still in elementary school, and I’m probably answering it a bit more sharply every few times I hear it. I believe that if people thought it through–or presumed competence/a full range of human emotion, in the case of folks with ASD–they wouldn’t ask that particular question. Many of the reasons why adult children need to leave the nest are pretty self-explanatory… aren’t they?
the jay train said:
Hard stuff. My Jay is only 6 and I already think about that. I can only imagine how much more intense it will get as he gets older. I hope Ralph feels better soon and you are able to work out something that suits you all.
Richard Greenberg said:
You are wise to be thinking about these things, and I appreciate your sharing them. Recognizing the need usually leads to action. Wishing you the best of luck.
I 2nd what you said.
Justin is only 11 but I think about these things all the time. So with you on this!