When Michael was in high school, it was easy to ignore the future. His days were filled with friends and activities, and he was reaching the milestones we dreamed he’d achieve. But then came graduation, and new questions arose.
The day I dropped Michael’s twin sister Margot off at the airport to leave for college, I was so proud. I’ll never forget watching her walk away, beaming with pride. When I returned home, I saw Michael in the same spot on the couch, watching videos on his phone. And I recognized that despite him and his sister being only minutes apart in age, they were miles apart in their quality of life. I knew there had to be a next step for Michael, as well.
Sure, living with me meant Michael was safe and happy, but I didn’t want him stuck in that post-high school mode of life. On that path he would slowly fall into a life of social isolation. I mean we worked so hard to prepare Michael’s siblings to “leave the nest” but why weren’t we planning for Michael to do the same? I wanted him to have the opportunities his siblings have to create a life and continue growing as a person. And that day I realized that growth was not going to happen sitting at home with me as the key influencer over his life. I had to let go.
Now, the decision to let go was not an easy one. It came with a lot of uncertainties. Would Michael find a place that kept him as safe and secure as he was at home? Would he get the support and supervision he needed to live a healthy lifestyle and eat right? Would he continue to grow, with opportunities to learn new skills, gain work experience and integrate into the community at large? And maybe more importantly, would he live the life he wanted to live, together with a group of peers who would enrich his life, as he would theirs?
To ease my concerns, I always think back to when Michael was first diagnosed. We felt lost, but a close family friend told us, “Never put a limit on what Michael can achieve, and he will surprise you for the rest of your life.” That’s why we’re building Daymark Living, a community that gives our adult children with IDD the opportunity to live a happy, healthy life. A community that will give our adult children with IDD endless opportunities to surprise us.