Up until now, we have managed to use family or close friends to care for him. However amazing that is and will continue to be, it has not given us more than a two night stay away. It has been more than 7 years since Kurt and I have been away together for longer than 48 hours, which for any marriage is far too long. We have been very diligent about taking small windows of time together, but in the craziness of the life we live, its just not enough time to actually rest and be able to reconnect.
As Paige gets older and more independent, we are now realizing that there is an aspect life that gets easier in some respects as your children grow up. She can go stay with another family with very little change to their daily routine because she can independently care for herself. With Karter, that is not the case. Because he requires additional support, the ability to just leave him anywhere does not afford us that same freedom.
At the same time, we have been working through the idea that just as Paige loves to go and stay places without us, Karter being almost 8, may also like that opportunity for that same independence of us. It is with that in mind that we came upon Matthew's House.
Matthew's House is only about 6 months old. The physical space is absolutely beautiful; the layout has wide open spaces, huge windows, individual rooms for each child, a large adapted jacuzzi tub for bathing, state of the art adapted playground and so many more amazing features. It feel warm and inviting like a home.
We applied and were accepted into the program about a month ago. And this weekend was Karter's first stay. As part of their intake process, the parents come along for part of the first stay and remain with the child in the house for a minimum 24 hour stay. The idea is that the parents teach the staff about their child. The mandate is that the child feels like the routine and normality of home still continues during their stay.
In the 24 hours that I stayed with Karter, I was able to teach the staff about him and a care plan was created and approved by me for the directives to be carried out while I was not there. Coming from a child care background, I appreciate the protocals, systems and accountability they have in place to ensure each child is taken care of during their stay.
I suspect Karter will come home spoiled, as he has someone to entertaining him 100% of his waking hours :-).
I had the pleasure of staying with him all of Friday day and night and then I left him Saturday afternoon and will pick him up Monday morning in time for school. When I said good bye Saturday, he was full of smiles, anticipating a nice outside walk with two of the staff. As I closed the elevator doors to head to the parking garage, I found myself spilling a few tears on the floor. This was the first time ever leaving my precious with someone overnight that was not family. Even through the tears, I had a confidence in my heart that he was getting the best care possible while not in my home.
As the day/evening progressed, I found myself looking at the clock and thinking "5:00, time for Karter's dinner" and realizing he was not here. I thought I heard him a couple of times and had to remind myself, he was not here.... It's been a strange thing. I told Kurt last night that its like a part me is missing. I mean, obviously...but with Karter being so dependent, he has become such a big part of who I am and a huge part of my daily life, so without him here, it feels a different kind of empty.
This is all part of the process of letting go and allowing both kids to grow up. I am shoulder deep in that reality today! The emotions are a crazy mix or emptiness, sadness, excitement and happiness. Its a roller coaster ride for sure.
Here are a couple of pictures from our time with him.
Enjoying the adapted merry-go-round
Loving the swing!
The parent suite
My precious boy, just before I left him on his own
for the first time!