I have been asked on occassion if I am going to put Mary Kate in an assisted living home when she is an adult. The purpose of assisted living is to make an adult feel independent while still receiving personal care and support services. I have always said "no" to this service for a few different reasons. Reason number 3 relates to everyone, not just someone with special needs, and the real reason I wanted to write this blog.
One, What am I? Chopped liver? I've been giving Mary Kate personal care and support services since birth. What would change? The only thing I can see changing is having less kids in the home so now I'm even more available to provide this care. A person with more severe needs may need this extra assistance but Mary Kate does not fall in that category.
Two, It takes a very special individual to care for a person with special needs and not one that has a degree. Degree's are nice but it is on the bottom of the list of importance. They truly need to have the patience of Job. I know very few people with that kind of patience. Very, very few. I can not entrust my baby girl with anyone that I do not know as well as I know my own sister or best friend AND see that they have this quality.
Third, There is this notion that young adults need to live on their own for a time to learn responsibility. This is where I am in disagreement with many people. I want all of my children to go straight from their home or dorm life to their new spouses home. No stops of aloneness and solitude to learn "responsibility". This is completely unnecessary and, too often, a failed attempt. It has always been my belief that "two heads are better than one." You learn responsibility 'better' when you have a partner to share in the responsibilities. This could be a parent or a spouse or a sibling. They are looking out for each other because they love each other. Each person can provide insight that the other one could not which leads to problem solving skills. Let's take a closer look.....
Budgeting. When you are alone, you have to budget your money and learn to do so. When you are living with your parents or your spouse, you still have to budget but this time, it has the added complication of adding more people to the budget and maybe, more money and more expense. Wouldn't the more challenging budget bring greater lessons? Wouldn't the "two heads" bring greater results?
Car and home repairs. Ah, yes. The dreaded and expensive repairs. The garbage disposal has stopped working, the car shakes and die's at every red light, a ball got kicked through a window, another leak in the pool, the water is running down the basement walls! Yes, I am pulling these examples right out of my own life. A life where both my husband and I jumped from our safe and cozy home to married life in a cheap, run down home in Kansas City. This is an easy solution. I tell Roy about these things and he fixes them. lol. Actually, this is true BUT, how does he know how to do any of this if he never lived on his own? Living on his own doesn't TEACH him how to fix these problems any more then living with me does. This may come as a surprise, but I'm no help in this area. What if I were living on my own and I needed these things fixed? Well, there's this guy I know that lives up the street named Roy. I just call him down....and we live happily ever after. Kidding aside, I do not believe in only learning by trial and error. Whenever you can learn to do something the right way the first time, try that one on for size first. Learn from others... parents, siblings, spouses, family, etc. A person living in solitude will call on these people in the time of need so why bother being separated from them in the first place? How did this separation help?
I would much rather share my trials with a family member who has my best interest at heart then by myself or with a stranger I had to call to get something fixed.
I will not be encouraging my kids to live on their own for a time before getting married, most especially my girls who need that companionship and protection that can only be offered by a Daddy, brother or husband....or ME!! now that I have experience. So, putting two and two together, you can see that I will not be putting Mary Kate in an assisted living home (as wonderful as they are).