When my callused fingers and I were constantly web surfing, I would tell myself that Ryan most certainly did not have autism because he did not "arch or pull away" from my touch (too much). He was not resistant to being cuddled or snuggled, at least not by me so he surely must not be autistic. Of course as my bleeding fingers would scroll to the bottom of the page, there in the fine print would be something like this, "a child may form a bond with a parent or sibling, but this should not rule out a diagnosis of autism". Click the X, turn off the computer and run away. Unfortunately, no matter how far or fast I ran, I couldn't escape what I knew was true. Early on, I was the only person Ryan allowed to snuggle, cuddle or tickle his back. He permitted others to tend to his needs and if I wasn't around, Dan made a fine substitute, but it was his mother's arms that he felt safest in, his mother's voice that soothed his anxiety of the loud, unpredictable world, his mother's hands he entrusted with a comb or a toothbrush, and it was his mother's heart that he entrusted his own heart to. It is still that way today. What a gift for me.
One particularly ugly moment had to do with Ryan switching over from the lightweight fleece coat to the heavy winter coat. Ryan wanted no part of that coat and come hell or high water, I was going to make sure he put it on. I begged, bribed and coerced, but that coat wasn't going on. A good mother would have just let him wear the fleece and freeze, but not me, I was going to win and AWEnestly, at that point it wasn't about him catching a chill, it was all about me winning. With seconds until the bus arrived, I tried again, this time shouting, "Put your coat on NOW!", to which he responded, "Only if you say it nicely." Through a fake smile and gritted teeth I kindly seethed, "Please put your coat on." to which he promptly responded no again. Something inside me snapped and the world turned red, and I screamed, "Put your (insert F word here that is not the word "Friend" and add the suffix "ing") coat on now! Was that nice enough for you?!" Lo and behold that boy put his coat on for fear, unlike the protective mother elephant, more like the mother hamster, I might just turn on him and eat him. We were both in tears and yes, he missed the bus, but not a single bite mark on him.
AWE-inspiring moments and AWE-ful moments, we mothers have them all. Throw in a dash of AWE-tism and those moments just tend to be a wee bit more extreme. Yes, mothers are worthy and certainly deserve to have a day or three to honor our commitment, our sacrifices and our unyeilding love for our children. We deserve parades, parties, jewelry (sorry Anna Jarvis) and statues erected in our honor because as mothers, we love like no other. Our children feel this love regardless of any different ability they may have, regardless of how often "we have a fit" and regardless of how many times we make the grilled cheese sandwich "too brown".
On my best day, I am a mother elephant wielding my tusks at the school bus bully or those ignorant enough to believe "different" means "less". On an average day, I'm a chipped, covered in bird poop, tarnished Greek maternal goddess statue returning the Sugar Free Jello Pudding for the fifth time in exchange for the Original (please, please Jello change your packaging), but even on my worst day, when I scream, swear and watch my kids eyes fill with wonder at the transformation from loving Super Mom to Satan's sister, I am still NOT a hamster mother and have never once considered my children lunch. Regardless of the kind of day I'm having as a mom, I am loved by my children and without a doubt, they each believe they are the "luckiest child alive" because I am their MOTHER. Yeah, I'll take that....365 days a year!