It’s Mothers Day……………and thank God I planned ahead. I knew hubby was going to be working all day so I got a sitter. I went to a bookstore to enjoy the quiet, and I began thinking about Mother’s Day and what it means.
For most of my life, Mother’s Day was about MY mom. I wasn’t a mom, so it was just about appreciating her and loving her, which has always been easy for me to do with the mom that I am fortunate enough to have. I never longed to be a mom myself, so just appreciating the fabulous one I had was enough every Mother’s Day.
I began to look around the bookstore at all the families, wondering what they were thinking about Mothers Day, and how they were celebrating. All these “normal” (that’s my word for not autistic) kids running around, their parents quietly reprimanding them to calm down, and to stop running. I realized these parents didn’t have to think about what restaurant was the least sensory over-stimulating when they made the brunch reservation. They didn’t have to pay a sitter to actually enjoy their day. They were able to spend the day with their kids because after all, it’s “Mother’s Day.”
I imagined that these “normal” kids jumped on their moms beds that morning with a breakfast that they made themselves. They presented their mom with a picture they drew and signed all by themselves saying how much they loved her, and how happy they were that she was their mom. Then the whole family went to church together because they were either able to drop the kids off at the church nursery, or that they actually remained quiet while sitting with them during the sermon. I assumed they continued the day with a little lunch and shopping as a family.
I then thought about how different my morning was. When my son woke up, no words were said. No “Happy Mother’s Day”. No written portraits of love, and no hug or kiss. No “I love you.” My hubby had already left for work, so it was just me and my son, like it is everyday.
The only word that Keegan uttered in the first 1 hour of waking up was “muffin”—my sons only way of saying he is ready for breakfast. Luckily, he actually ate the muffins. As I was getting his lunch ready for the babysitter, I finally got a chance to look in his backpack from Friday. In it was a homemade card that was supposed to say “Happy Mother’s Day”, I think. It was, of course, not very legible because his facilitator is the one who actually did it, hand over hand with Keegan. I then thought about the other kids in his class that were able to give their moms an actual written one, without the help of the facilitator, and how they actually understood that they were giving it to their mom because she was special.
Sitting in the bookstore, I began to receive a bunch of wonderful texts and FB posts from friends about how great of a mom I am; how inspirational I was because I worked so hard at helping my son with his autism; how strong I am because of everything I have had to endure along this autism journey; how much they were thinking of me on this day and how hard it must be that I don’t get the feedback that other moms get on this day…………..
It took everything I had to keep myself from breaking down and crying right then and there; crying because they were being so sweet to me; crying because they were so right and so wrong at the same time; crying because I know I’m a good mom, but guess what–my child is still autistic; crying because they were able to feel for one split second the pain that I feel on a daily basis; crying because they were able to enjoy Mother’s Day with their child; crying because I was so NOT inspirational on any level; crying because I had never envisioned my life being this way……spending money to pay a sitter to be away from my child on Mother’s Day. That was how I was celebrating “my” day. Does that make me a better mom than others? Does that make me inspirational? No, but it does make me real and true to myself, and maybe that’s what makes me a good mom.
Maybe I’m a good mom because I am taking care of myself. I am making myself relax by going to a quiet place where I don’t have to hear constant whining, or a 20 minute meltdown for some unknown reason (not from my child, anyway). But, even if I had to spend “my” day dealing with tantrums or listening to constant teeth grinding, that’s OK by me. Maybe I’m a good mom because I accept my child for who he is AND who he isn’t. Maybe I’m a good mom because it’s all I know and frankly, I don’t know what it would be like to have a “normal” child. Maybe I’m a good mom because I had the best example of one filled with unconditional love. I don’t think I’m any better than the next mom. I guess my mom duties require a little more armor than some other moms, so it stands out more.
It does hurt that I won’t hear my child tell me that he loves me today, or any day soon. It does hurt that my son is not able to give me the same kind of hug and kiss that other kids give their mom. It does hurt that he won’t be bringing me breakfast in bed. It makes me happy, however, that he will hopefully look at me and smile before the day is through. It makes me happy that he will lay his head on my shoulder as I read him a book before bed. For the most part, I love being a mom, despite the lack of extra admiration from my son on Mother’s Day. After all, you can’t miss what you never had.