Mother’s day has just passed and I was thinking about how great my own mother is and about how many amazing mothers, particularly of kids on the spectrum, that I’ve known over the years including my cousin, several friends. and the many mothers on forums and on Life-with-Aspergers with whom I’ve interacted over the years.
To celebrate the day, I wanted to write a post about the qualities of those amazing mothers. I’m sure that many of you will recognise yourselves in this post.
The greatest mothers are loving, caring and kind. They are always ready to provide comfort and hugs when their children need it. They know that most kids on the spectrum love tight hugs and they’re always ready to oblige. Their love is also a shield for the times when the mother/child relationship is tested and harsh words are exchanged. It protects them anything their kids say in anger and it ensures that their response always comes from a place of love.
Life on the spectrum is often “two steps forward, one step back” and things rarely go to plan. This can be frustrating for mothers and their children. It’s hard to watch these repeated failures but there’s little more that you can do. Pushing harder or for more speed only makes the process slower. The greatest moms have seemingly endless reservoirs of patience. They’re able to recognise when things are too stressful and will take a step back to proceed at speeds that are comfortable for their children.
Autistic kids often feel as if everyone is looking down on them and smirking at their latest failure. It’s important to know that your mother is always on your side. The best moms are respectful and supportive. They don’t resort to name-calling as a means of persuasion. For example, they don’t call you “lazybones” to make you more active, or “grub” to make you more tidy. If they have to correct you or your attire, they do it when nobody is looking – and it’s a gentle nudge. They respect you as an individual and do their best to support your choices and initiatives even when they don’t necessarily agree.
The greatest moms are fierce warriors when it comes to their children’s rights. They aggressively advocate for their kids. They contest the injustices of the classroom and the playground and they stand up for their kids rights to not be bullied and to be treated like everyone else. These strong mothers are everywhere keeping the best interests of their children at heart. They’re aware of the language of others and will enthusiastically correct people who try to peddle stereotypical negative images of autism.
Great moms are very well organised because they know that good organisation can make up for what their kids lack in executive functioning. They know which days are sports days and they remind their children before they get ready for school. They know what’s coming ahead of time and are always prepared with lists and rhymes to help their kids remember and stay on track. Even when they have adult kids, these great moms are organised enough to know when to remind their kids of appointments and critical due dates and can help them with the mountains of paperwork that comes their way.
Great moms are aware that they are fallible. They know how to forgive themselves for their own mistakes and they teach self-forgiveness to their children. Their forgiveness extends to others too. When their disorganised kids completely forget mother’s day, they’re able to forgive and move on — though they stress the importance of making up for misdeeds. Forgiveness is free but it sill needs to be earned by good deeds.
Great Sense of Humour
Great moms have an excellent sense of humour. They know that there’s a funny side to everything. They know that kids will be kids but that life with autistic kids brings new and interesting surprises. They can laugh when their kids decide to make an unscheduled stop at the local mud-hole and then proceed to track dirt throughout the house – when they’re interrupted mid-sentence by their child saying “mom, she hasn’t got two faces”. When the craziest of situations occurs and you’re not sure whether to laugh or cry – it’s the great moms that keep on smiling.
A Role Model
Most of all, Great moms are the best role models for their kids. They are people who earn the respect of their children through their qualities and their deeds. Their kids look up to them and love them, even when they don’t quite have the words to say it. Typical mother-child relationships go through a lot of ups and downs over the years but kids with great role model mothers already have the best goals to strive for. Just be like mom and you’ll turn out great.
There is no underestimating the importance of mothers, grandmothers, step-mothers and other mother-figures in your life. Mothers take us from helpless babies to fully functioning adults. It’s a long and difficult job and if your child is on the autism spectrum, it’s more difficult still.
The mothers who rise to this challenge are special indeed.