A (Short) Paradox of Love and Letting Go

Filed Under (Adam, Parenting) by Estee on 17-01-2011

Adam tried to pull me out the door with him in the morning. Since I returned home from vacation or after weekends apart, he tugs at my hand. He is bundled in his heavy red winter coat for the minus twenty-something temperature we’ve been having in Toronto the past couple of days. I know he has been effected by my absence. With separation and divorce, all kids and parents must traverse this similar path of custody arrangements.

So, these absences are not entirely within my control, although even married, parents do have to leave their children for work, for travel, for one circumstance or another. Adam’s Christmas vacation is split between mom and dad. While I’m not with Adam, I want to build my life. I am trying to figure out if there is a way to refine the fine art of living life and parenting. I’ve concluded that the best way I can be Adam’s parent is to remain my simple self, and including him in all of it. Sure, I have to accommodate the way in which he can be included in it, but that’s a different post.

Once in a while I get a report from his aide or teacher that he has asked for mommy while I am away. I can’t tell you the wave of love and trememdous guilt that overcomes me when I get those reports, or lately, even a short email now from my son. Then, I tell myself that this is the test of our love: that we can miss each other and always return, the universe willing. Still, for a young boy, typical or autistic, a parent’s absense must feel like the end of the world. Adam can’t tell me the depth of feeling he must have, but I can imagine it. I can remember what it felt like when I was a child and I use those memories to help me in the way I treat Adam.

“Come with me,” he says as he grabs my hand. Then the words don’t come — he simply tugs. His cherub cheeks peek from behind his ample hood with a tuft of faux fur. His eyes begin to look distressed.

“I can’t come to school with you honey,” I implore. “I will see you in a few hours.” He tugs harder, my body leaning into the warm hallway, his boot already on the icy front step; I’m afraid he will literally tumble out the door. He tugs for as long as he can before I kneel down and face him.

“I love you. I’m proud of you and I will be here when you get home,” I reassure, rubbing the sides of his down-filled arms, caressing his cheek, and then kissing his small, pouted lips.

He lets go reluctantly, dragging his knapsack behind him on the driveway and climbs into the car. I stand at the window with pangs in my stomach — to let him know I am watching. I am also jubilent at the same time, remembering how my mother did the same thing (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). I wait in the window, like my mother did with my father and I, to let Adam know the depths of my love. I’m pretty sure he knows this innately, but still.

The car pulls away and he looks at me longingly through the backseat window. I wave thinking that this is, paradoxically, one of the best moments of our lives.


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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.