The Mother I Never Got To Be


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.

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25 Responses to The Mother I Never Got To Be

  1. CharleneMcD says:

    I have to stop reading these posts at work! Your words were so powerful. I never thought about that statement “The Mother I Never Got to Be” in relation to me. But I have a very dysfunctional mom, she was not a good role model in mother of the year awards. So I am so grateful that I became “The mom that I didn’t know I could be.” Your son is one blessed little boy to have you for a mom, that is all I can say. You wear your heart on your sleeve for the world to see and in his own way your son has been calling you “mommy” for always.


    • mewhoami says:

      I enjoyed your perspective here. It would be hard to be a good role model of a mother, after having not been raised by one. It goes to show that we can break the cycle, if we try. That’s wonderful that you were able to be that good mother that you needed and wanted to be. I like to think that he knew who I was when he was little. He knew I protected him. I just didn’t have a name. 🙂


  2. JF says:

    Wonderful post! Best to you, your son and everyone else you love!


  3. DailyMusings says:

    What a beautiful, heartfelt post. I admire your honesty, You are a wonderful person and mother.


  4. Excuse me while I go bawl my eyes out!


  5. MeWhoAmI….. wow. I don’t even know what to say. What a beautiful post. I want to say I understand, but I know that I cannot say I have stood in your shoes. I can say that from your words I understand your words and emotions and they make sense to me. I recognize in your words who you are, and I can feel an enormous amount of love for your boy. And I suspect that as trapped as what his emotions may be….his world is better because of you too.


  6. April says:

    *sniffle* see…your posts aren’t pointless, this was wonderful!


  7. Barry says:

    I can understand your sadness if you miss being a mother in the way you expected, but I’m not sure if you need be too sad that your child is missing out. Admittedly there are differences between your child and the child I was, but there are some similarities.

    I learnt to talk at the “normal” rate, and had taught myself to read before I started school. But I disliked cuddles even when I had a ‘booboo’. I didn’t know how to “share” conversations, and would either interrogate or info dump. Special occasions such as Christmas or birthdays meant nothing (although I did learn to pretend they did to avoid upsetting others). I was very serious and don’t remember anything funny until I discovered ‘The Goon Show’ on radio at about age ten. I never had school friends, never invited children to my birthdays nor did I attend any birthday parties apart from those of my siblings. I didn’t have friends but would tag along with my younger siblings and their friends. I only had one sleepover, and that was very uncomfortable for all concerned. I knew I was somehow different, and while I sometimes wished I was more like my siblings, I’m not sure if I was ever very sad at being different.

    When I grew up in the 1950s, autism was not understood well, and I was just considered a very shy and socially awkward child. Perhaps it was the ignorance of autism that allowed me and my family to accept my differences without regret.

    I still don’t have friends outside of immediate family, and I’m unlikely to recognise acquaintances if I see them out of context. I managed a career in information technology for 33 years until ill health forced an early retirement. In all that time I never socialised with work mates or clients. My wife of over forty years was originally a pen friend, and I never dated before meeting her.

    My life has been far from “normal”, but if I had the chance to start over again,I don’t think I would want to be anything other than the person I grew up as (although I would change some of the decisions I made along the way).


    • mewhoami says:

      Thank you for this very thought out comment. Everyone is different and their differences are exactly what make them so special. My son’s autism is a gift in many ways and for those reasons I am happy he is the way he is. However, there are many things that he would love to do; get married, have a career, drive and own a car, have children….none of which he may never do. It’s great that people are different and accepting of those who are different, but as a parent it can be hard sometimes to know that your child wants so much from life, but to also know how very difficult it will be for him to get there. But, I’ve seen him conquer many mountains over the years and I know he will conquer many more. He’s an amazing young man.


  8. Absolutely lovely! You write about this was such beauty and honesty.


  9. As a mum of a child on the spectrum I am also a mother I never knew I could be. I love that and how I have turned out, my son will be who he is meant to be. I know he will deal with this world in his own special way. The parties, friends etc are very small for us. He hates crowds and noise, but I see him becoming a quirky kid with his own funny sense of humour. I dread high school but will support him no matter what he wants to do with his life. Beautiful post and made me smile.


    • mewhoami says:

      I like what you said and completely agree – “my son will be who he is meant to be.” Even though it can be hard at times imagining his future and what it holds for him, my son will be who he’s supposed to be. No matter what he does or where life takes him, he will succeed in his own way. He makes me proud every day and I can ‘hear’ in your comment that your son makes you very proud as well. They are different, but that is what makes them so very special.


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