As an only child and single mother to an autistic son, I have to be honest that I sometimes find myself grumbling about holidays. I know it sounds very cynical of me, but hear me out. Another hallmark holiday can make me feel left out. Our kids are supposed to make us cards, buy us flowers, gifts and tell us how wonderful we are. Usually, there is a husband to make the kids abide if the kids are too busy playing Xbox. I remember fondly making those cards and telling my mom how much (and still do) love and appreciate her. In my case, my dad didn’t always have to remind me. Adam can’t make me a card; at least not without the help of another person. So, another holiday comes and that’s the pang.
I can’t get rid of the holiday. Millions of people this Sunday will go out and buy flowers, and make their kids make cards for mom and grandma — another fuss. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s lovely that people want to celebrate their family members. If I had gotten the date right this year, I may have even made a tea for my girlfriends and their mothers. Part of me does it to avoid self-pity. Another part does it because I believe in making celebrations out of just about everything, not necessarily on holidays. This Mother’s Day, I’ll probably visit my mother for coffee with Adam and I know she and my father will give me their good wishes.
As Mother’s Day approaches, I think of the daily moments I share with Adam; how much we’ve been through together and how much I wanted him. I waited until my late thirties to have him. Other’s have forced him to make cards and say “Happy Mother’s Day mummy… I wuv you,” and he repeats it obediently, hands me the card made with construction paper and crayons. Sure, I love the card and keep them in a special box, but I know he doesn’t care about it so much.
Today, he cares about the items he can make on his own volition. He cares about when I am there for him and can comfort him or love him just because. In return, I receive his voluntary hugs and kisses, his laughter, his smile, his pulling me towards him and saying my name. At night as I tuck him into his favorite blanket, he’ll say in his little voice, “don’t go.” In this house, Adam’s affection and his ability to express himself are like daily holidays. If your child has difficulty talking, you’ll understand these actions and the few words as the gifts that moms like us receive. Mother’s Day? I can see Adam laughing inside if he really understood the nuances of being forced to celebrate Mother. I mean, love is love. Period. He knows it well.
For us moms whose children cannot and may not make cards and say I love you this year, don’t despair. I hear you and I’m with you. Be proud of your mothering efforts and happy that we are moms of our wonderful children. I don’t know about you, but I never get the feeling that Adam doesn’t love me. Just because he can’t always express it in words, or as slick as a Hallmark card, I feel ocean waves of love and appreciation every single day.
That’s my Mother’s Day gift to myself, and to you.