Tuesday, May 17, 2005
With full recognition that I am simply not capable of being case manager, social worker, nurse's aide, policewoman, and returner-of-all-things-to-unsuspecting-mall-merchants -- I made that call. I've finally accepted the fact that the most important role I'll play in my daughter's life is that of superfriend. Only I can be her mother. Having to place myself in the role of disciplinarian and keeper of the checkbook is threatening to our friendship. I need to be the one she can turn to when the world runs out of patience with her. That must be protected against any assault from outside. I need to step back and allow that to be reinstated as of old. If I continue to battle with her over finances and/or anything else, I'll jeopardize our ability to maintain the kind of trust we had before she returned home last year.
Yesterday, as promised, I found the name of that nearby Senior Housing development and emailed it to Dorian's case manager. She will call and try to make arrangements for us to find a way to bypass HUD's age requirements and secure a one bedroom apartment for her. If it works, we may be ready to make the move on the first of the month. She will be less than two blocks away in a safe complex -- where she can reach out to me when and if she needs to -- and where I can give her freedom from the mounting battles over her inability to resist instant gratification.
Under the Lanterman Act funded Regional Center of the East Bay, that agency will receive her SSA check each month and dole it out to her as needed. She will have her finances managed so that her rent will be paid and her monthly obligations met automatically. She will also receive living skills training (as before) to take care of menu planning, cooking, budgeting, etc., and I can go back to more hugging and less nagging!
The state budget cutbacks had so seriously cut into her safety net, that moving her back to live with me was a necessity. She was in an unsafe situation and something had to be done. That is still true, except that where she was living some distance away without support -- she will now be within an arm's length but still protected by oversight when and if needed. She will still be picked up by First Transit (bus service) every day for the trip to and from NIAD (National Institute for Artists with Disabilities), and I can take her to her sports activities on Saturdays. Her program is 5 hours a day 5 days a week, and her life is full and relatively happy. She is doing fine work in sculpturing now, and getting kudos for her accomplishments. Her work is selling well, which benefits both her and the organization (50% split). She feels successful. Now we need to make her independent again.
We do need to get me out of her everyday existence so that she can pick up where she left off in the growing process. As I've said, she continues to grow and learn -- unlike some of those disabled from birth. At this point she's in her late teens. She will need to live to be at least 159 in order to bring her mental age to her chronological -- but we'll settle for a cool 21 any time. It would be nice if she could at least reach the mental age of abstract ability -- an impossibility -- but hoped for nonetheless.
Like so many "normal" folks, she simply cannot project into the what ifs and the supposing thats so will never be able to deal with the relationship between cause and effect. She is totally without the ability to make judgements. But hey, I run into that wall myself on occasion. That's what I'm trying to deal with at this very moment; the confusion and fear of abandonment caused by robbing her of the ability to grow into her own future -- whatever that might be, is the effect that so frightens me.
Having her enjoy a bit of distance may protect her from my unrealistic expectations of her. She must be allowed to find her own level of existence for herself. That may be something that I may never be capable of judging with any accuracy at all. That may take someone from "the world;" the world that I have such a hard time trusting with her life. The living of my own life has left little reason to trust such a world with her future.
I guess that says it all.
Dorrie's mother (hoping to be superfriend again one day soon).
Photo: Dorian at 19 on her first job tending animals at the Oakland Lake Merritt Children's Zoo. She was living at one of the Clausen House program's nearby, and learning to move about in the community with some assistance and a fine network of guides from that institution. The program worked for her for many years but eventually state budget cuts eviscerated much of that support and we had to adapt to the changes.