Are You My Mother?

Filed Under (Autism and Intelligence, Family, Single Parenthood) by Estee on 23-02-2012

“Mommy!” Adam looks into my eyes and says my name as if he’s reassuring himself. It’s as if he’s saying you’re my mommy, and that is that.

“Yes, Adam, I’m Mommy.” I say. He’s eyes are glued to mine until I answer him. After I do, he looks relieved and goes back to his business. The look reminds me of that P.D. Eastman story I used to read Adam over and over again when he was a baby, “Are You My Mother?”

I hear “Mommy” after he’s visited his dad’s house. What could he be thinking, I wonder? Is he confused, as many children are, of the other women in their father’s life? If Adam were a more verbal child, what would be the many questions he’d have of the divorce, and his dad returning to his first ex-wife with whom Adam shares half-siblings? I have experienced such younger “typical” children with many questions. I’ve often wondered if people just carry on as if it’s not confusing for Adam at all because they don’t believe that he understands, or at least has many questions that he can’t articulate? No matter how nice people are to Adam over the years, he will always have questions, and he has the right to have them answered. It’s always better to answer children with the facts rather than emotion or pretense, in ways appropriate to their age. I’m taking the inquisitive “are you my mother?” look he frequently gives me now as something much deeper. I’ve read him children’s books about divorce but I think Adam is beginning to have more questions.

The past few days, Adam has also had the flu. It’s all my fault. I caught a bad one and he got it from me. We’ve been down and out for a week now. I know Adam is really ill when he doesn’t move around much and when he’s not eating, of course. Yesterday, he spent the whole day with me sitting on the couch, and today will be the second day. We watched tv, he played with his iPad and rested. He’s body was close to mine — his way of comfort and reassurance. If I got up to do something, he would grab my arm to stay with him.

As a single mom, I don’t have anyone else to delegate all my responsibilities. Yet the feel of Adam’s overly warm body needing mine for comfort and security is more important to me than any bill or piece of paper sitting on my desk. Those things will have to wait. I could complain, but then I realize that I am the most important person in the world to him right now. I have been his rock, his “constant person.”

That’s right, Adam. I am! I am your mother!

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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 (, 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.