While parked at a red light the other day, I looked in my rear view mirror. There was a young girl sitting in the passenger seat, laughing and carrying on with her mother, who was driving.
They were sharing a large slushy from a convenience store and with each drink from the straw, the girl would say something and the mother would start laughing. They were having a grand time together.
Then my eyes puddled, thinking (once again) about all the ‘simple’ moments I never got to enjoy as a mother. When a child has autism, both the child and the parent are deeply effected. Thoughts of what could have been often enter my mind, especially when I see how other children interact with their parents and peers.
There are so many moments I would have loved to have had…My son calling me “Mommy” from an early age. Wanting to be held and cuddled when he got a ‘booboo’. Proudly saying his ABC’s and 123’s. Getting excited about birthdays and events. Coming home from school and telling me all about his day. Talking 100 mph in the backseat of the car about anything and everything.
Running into the living room on Christmas mornings, anxiously awaiting the opening of presents. Making friends on the playground. Having silly child-like conversations with them and hearing his laughter ring from across the playground.
While my son was growing up, I looked forward to all of those little milestones that most children hit. Each one, we missed. Each one missed, broke my heart a little more.
Many times, constantly actually, I mourn for the life my son has missed out on. He’s amazing, just the way he is. He’s brilliant, in my eyes. His autism is a gift of sorts, because he’s not pressured by life as most of us are. He sees the world in a way that most people only wish they could.
But, I can’t help to still feel deeply saddened for all the things he never had the chance to do, to be. He’s never known how to be a child. He never was one, not in that respect. He doesn’t have conversations on the phone or hang out at his friend’s house. He doesn’t have any friends, only acquaintances.
He’s never gone to a sleep over. No one’s ever invited him. He’s often left out and he knows it. My heart gets broken for him, over and over again…for the child he never was. The child he couldn’t be. For the child that only a rare few take the time to know.
Then sometimes I mourn for the mother I never had the chance to be, and feel selfish in doing so.
The same day that I had watched the mother and daughter carry on behind me, I came home and saw this article: The Mom I Would Have Been. My son doesn’t suffer from physical limitations as her daughter does, but this mother’s account mirrored my thoughts exactly. Suddenly I didn’t feel so selfish or so alone in feeling the way that I do.
I loved what this woman so eloquently stated in closing, “I wish that I could have been that other mom with Maya. We would have had a ton of fun, I think, the Maya-that-she-would-have-been and the mom-that-I-would-have-been. But I certainly love the Maya-that-she-is… and without her, I wouldn’t have become the kind of mom that she needed, a mom better than the mom that I would have been. The mom that I didn’t know I could be.”
The mom that I didn’t know I could be… Never in a million years would I have ever imagined becoming the mother that I had to be. Life is much easier now, but a movie could have been made from how it used to be.
Although I mourn for the mother I never was, I am so grateful for my son who trained me to be the mother I never knew I could be. And I am so enormously grateful for him. For the very special young man he is. The young man that he has become. My son, my friend…my hero.