The Dance of Motherhood – Mother’s Day 2015

The bedroom door creaks open, spilling in the unwelcome light from the hallway.

Instantly, I’m awake. A glance to the bedside clock. 3:21 AM.

“Ummm… Mom?” comes the loud whisper of my daughter.

And I know.

I know in the way that every mother knows what to do when a door opens in the middle of the night, and a child’s voice asks for Mom.

My husband twitches in his sleep. I stumble out of bed, over the basket of neatly folded laundry that somehow never makes it into the dresser across the room. I go to her, moving in the familiar dance of Motherhood. She is my youngest of three. There have been many night whisperings and cries for help before this. A terrified toddler with a bad dream to share. A feverish forehead. A cautious babe seeking shelter from a booming thunderstorm. They come to me, and I go with them.

Two hours later, her hair washed clean of her sickness and her body smelling like baby powder, she crawls into her freshly made bed and once again closes her eyes.

The floor needs to be scrubbed. And the bath tub.

There is laundry to do. Lots and lots of it.

Downstairs, I notice the empty bottle of two-months-outdated pineapple juice sitting on the counter. I’d cleaned out our minibar fridge earlier, and the half full bottle had gone in the trash. Yet here it is, empty.

Abandoning the overflowing laundry basket, I shoot off like a world-class sprinter. Up one flight, two flights, three. In my son’s room on the third floor, I see his oversized water bottle on the floor, empty. The foul pineapple juice is gone, and he is in bed rubbing his stomach. He does this… with whiskey sour mix, lemon juice, and even once with vinegar. I clean out the trash can and place it near his bed in preparation for the inevitable sickness.

As the sky lightens with the first sun’s rays, I settle in for what I hope is a few more hours of sleep.

Later, at a more reasonable hour, the plans to attend a family outing will be canceled with a tired-yet-familiar-to-everyone apology, my well rehearsed Sorry-But-We-Can’t-Make-It speech.

Motherhood may not be for everyone, but I love it.

I love them.

I wouldn’t trade my life as a mother for anything.

This is my life. This is my family. This is my day.

Mother’s Day.

Making Progress

Forty years ago we did not see people with autism in the community, because most of them were locked behind walls of institutions from an early age. Today, they are living in our communities, which are also their communities, and teaching us all exactly what they have to share with the world. That’s progress.

I am a believer in awareness that leads to education and acceptance. When my son was younger, I harbored some negativity about the public jumping on board for one day/month every year and then disappearing the rest of the year. I thought it was a way of making themselves feel good. Now I see that there is nothing wrong with that. If acceptance starts with one day of them feeling better about themselves, so they want to continue to raise awareness, then so be it. That’s progress.

My son is now 20, still non-verbal and severely autistic. If the world can look at him when he’s jumping and flapping in a grocery store line and realize that he has autism, and that through his flapping he may be expressing that he is happy or overstimulated, then he may be able to navigate his community and forge relationships more easily. That’s progress.

It’s not a perfect world. People with autism and other disabilities continue to be excluded, bullied, and sidelined. Wearing blue and displaying blue lights won’t solve everything, but it is the beginning of our world moving toward acceptance. My wish for my son, and for those who are on this journey with us all over the world, is that we continue along this path. In the past half-century, we’ve gone from locking people with disabilities away because we believed they had nothing to offer, to celebrating that they exist. That’s progress, my friends. Progress.