Reflections on Autism & Mother's Day: Special Needs Living

Suzanne Murray

mother son hug
Flickr photo by ^@^ina

Today's guest blogger is Katie Olson (aurorabunny), mom to 3-year-old Brody, who has autism.

Every week, Katie shares the ongoing struggles and triumphs that often come with parenting a child with special needs. Today, she talks about the real meaning of Mother's Day.

This past Mother's Day made me remember my very first, when my son Brody wasn't quite 1. I was daydreaming about what the special holiday would be like as he grew older. I was sure that he'd bring me little handmade crafts and drawings, or surprise me with breakfast in bed like in the Cheerios commercials, all while looking up at me with a big toddler grin and an "I wuv you mommy!"

Of course, I had no idea at the time that four years later I'd still be waiting for that "I love you mommy" or even just "Mommy" period.  Autism has a way of forcing you to ditch your preconceived notions about everything -- Mother's Day included. 

It would be easy for me to be bitter on a day like today. Between hearing about all the things that others' little ones have done for them to honor the holiday and, even worse, listening to the few who complain because their Mother's Day gifts aren't exactly what they wanted. But over the past few years, I've come to view Mother's Day as more of a celebration of this wonderful task that I have the privilege of taking on than a celebration of ME.

I get to know this joy of loving and caring for a little person that I helped to create, the joy that many women long for and can't have. I get to see the love and appreciation that my son has for me every day when he tries his best and never gives up. I get to experience that wonderful feeling that comes along with making your child collapse onto the floor in a fit of giggles. If these things aren't a cause for celebration, then I don't know what is!

Mother's Day becomes less bitter and more sweet for me each year as I spend the day thinking about these wonderful things that my son does and the days that I'm blessed to spend watching him grow. I understand the love and the appreciation, and that makes Mother's Day (and every day) lack absolutely nothing. He may not be able to say, "Happy Mother's Day" and may not even know what day it is, but I know that he loves me, and isn't that what counts the most?

I read a Jewish proverb once that stuck with me, especially in relation to autism: "A mother understands what a child does not say."

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