Mother’s Day means something different to everyone. To my fellow Autism Moms, it is bittersweet. We may share some of the glory and some of the same pain as other moms of course, but we are not other moms either. Just as single parents, same-sex couples and other situations too numerous to list across the globe have their own set of challenges, so do we.
We like other moms are grateful for our children and love them. We will cherish any kind of art project they have created with their occupational therapist or art therapist. We may not get to hear our children say I love you, if we are lucky, we know they do. In many households, Mother’s Day is just another day.
A day full of stress, redirection and putting out fires-usually not literal. A day full of explaining the same information that you have already over-explained about 10 times as much as you would for a typical child. And typical, is not really something you know anymore, because every day is different, and there isn’t much typical about it. You are changing diapers on your child who is over the age of an age where diapers should be part of it. You are also doing other activities in the self-care category that should no longer be part of your day such as dressing and feeding. You have spent an enormous amount of time in your kitchen. And dealt with any number of meltdowns, some of which that resulted in an injury to yourself. If you were able to use a phone, chances are you have been constantly interrupted (15-20 times during any 10 minute call) thus conditioning you that calling people is a negative behavior.
All of these things are part of it, all of them are things you work on daily. But there is no magic button to make it go away. It just takes time and patience.
All moms have a less intense version of these things when their children are little, but on Mother’s Day come the rewards. The hugs, kisses and sweet things said. Breakfast in bed, or a meal out, special presents made by the kiddies and something special from the hubby. But in autism house most of the time you will not receive a gift they made because they can’t sit long enough to make something. You will not likely get a hug or a kiss because these are too painful for your child and don’t come into their normal thought process. Your child may not even speak, so no sweet things to be said, and if your child does have any language they normally are just asking for something. And because you are likely in enormous debt up to your ears, no real gifts from the hubby because you just can’t justify spending your grocery or therapy money on jewelry or even dollar store socks.
Children with autism teach us much; they teach us what it means to be human. How we all can feel tired, scared and threatened. How we sometimes really want what we want, exactly when we need it, because maybe we have been waiting a very long time. And this also teaches us the value of patience. It teaches us the value of being in a civilized society, the value of rules and the value in sometimes breaking those rules. They teach us to rise above their terrible behavior and love them anyway, because we all deserve to be loved. And deep down, we know part of them does love us, even if they can’t show it.
Mother’s Day can give you the opportunity to love and embrace the miracles of autism, even if it’s just for a few moments before your child is awake, or after they are in bed. Perhaps your child has been reading at a very young age, Maybe they are a human calculator or can operate a computer better than you. ASD kids take so many things literally and that can be funny.(I keep a list of things my son says to enjoy). You can also chose to celebrate how far they have come, how they can sit longer in a chair, or are starting to write, use a real cup. Maybe they can say mom now, when before it was just grunting. Or maybe your child can finally swing on a swing or ride a bike. All of these things are reasons to celebrate this “Mother’s Day”
I know it’s hard to be optimistic when everything around you is stressful, but for me, I just know I deserve to be happy and happy I will be, because I will chose that, no matter what. I still have stress, I still have to get through all these things but at my core, I am still grateful for what I do have and I don’t envy what I don’t. I will never give up, I will face it with a grin..I’m never giving in. It may seem easier said than done, but after years of practice it really does become easier done than said. Simply because you have grown tired of repeating yourself. You may feel like you can’t handle it, and you are right, because developmentally we weren’t built to deal with some of these things, but handle it we will because failure is not an option.
Wishing you a day (or more) of celebrations, triumphs and some peace.
And someone to do the laundry, shopping and basically be that assistant you know you need.