As a mother of an only child who is on the autism spectrum, I have always had a pity party for myself on Mother’s Day. Instead of appreciating what was right in front of me, I focused on the day that my son Angel would make a big fuss over me on this special occasion.
I also focused on the day I would get Mother’s Day drawings and art work from him. I was a first-time mom, so this was a big deal to me. Looking back, I think my expectations were normal. Especially for a parent with only traditional Mother’s Day celebrations as a frame of reference.
As we noticed Angel’s delays with speech, fine motor skills and his overall development, I began to realize that parenting him would be a different experience. I also realized that my expectations would have to be different. Not lowered but different.
When Angel was diagnosed with autism at age four, I tried my best to learn what his diagnosis meant for him and how I would need to parent him. Over time, I have attained a greater appreciation for nonverbal communication. Angel expresses his love for me in so many ways and it is done primarily through his actions.
He shows me love when he showers me with hugs and kisses. He shows me love when he acts like a baby to get me to do stuff for him. He shows me love when he dances around after I have been out all day and he acts like I just returned from a long trip. He shows me love when he cuddles up next to me. Yes, I know he loves me more than words can ever say.
So for this Mother’s Day, I am making a conscious decision to celebrate it with him in our own unconventional way. This is all a part of autism acceptance. I will hug him and kiss him. I will continue to be there for him because this is what a mother does. I will also make sure to get some “me time” because in order to be the best mom for him, I have to take time for myself.
I will not dwell on what could have been but I will focus on what is. It took me some time to evolve to this point but here I am. I know that celebrating Mother’s Day is about expressing love for your mother and the truth is my son does this every day.
This post previously appeared on Black and Married with Kids.