May 11, 2008

Mother's Day: Shannon Johnson is Un-invited

Shannon Johnson is a Maine autism mom, founder of the autism social networking site, and daughter of Nancy Cale of Unlocking Autism.

Her piece on her experience this Mother's Day really brought home to me the continuing quiet sacrifices that autism mom's make daily, hourly, for the children that they love so much.

Happy Mother's Day to you mom's who have joined the club that none of us wanted to join, and earned the title "Loving Mother" in a way that few have.

Happy Mother's Day Shannon.

by Shannon Johnson

Wynn's teacher gave me a head's up about the Mother's Day luncheon planned for the next week. She wanted to be certain that I set the time and date aside so that I wouldn't miss the festivities. Maybe she also knew that Wynn would need some extra time to process the event. Well, he did.

The first time I mentioned the party he screamed, "No! Don't come!". When the official invitation arrived in his lunch box, he screamed, "I said, don't come! I'll be really mad if you do!" When Wednesday finally arrived, and I brought up the topic of the big day, he screamed, "You mean you have to come? It will ruin my day!"

Now, for the best part of the last 13 years, I have gone out of my way....certainly, I have ignored, looked the other way, justified, set aside, left alone, let go, avoided, adjusted, adapted, hesitated, rotated, navigated and even subjugated.....all in an attempt to NOT ruin my son's I knew that attending the luncheon (never mind that it was in my honor) was out of the question.

I would again, do everything in my power, not to ruin an otherwise good day.

Wynn just hasn't understood, ever, the subtle inferences of social occasions. Why would Mother's Day be so important when his own birthday only means he can have a dessert or two? He attaches no significance whatsoever to holidays, ceremonies or traditions. If I showed up at his school at 12:15, as the invitation advised, I would simply be someone being somewhere she didn't belong. If he handed me anything, it would be in an attempt to move me quickly to the parking lot and back into the oblivion where I exist until he steps off the bus and asks for dinner. In his world, the one he daily constructs to bring meaning into his chaos, he has no place for luncheons, and no room for an annual display of sentiment as dictated by Hallmark or even Congress.

So, I meet briefly and covertly with Wynn's teacher on the front lawn by the parking lot. She hands me a hand-painted clay pot overflowing with budding violets that she promises Wynn planted. There is also a package donning tissue paper and a card that I open in the car. In a curly font are the words of Emily Dickinson, probably written for her own worried parent.

"A mother is one to who you hurry when you are troubled".

If Wynn's calls for "more hot" water in the tub, for more lima beans in his plate, for snuggles and songs, for stories and jokes, for answers and action are ushered my way, which they are, then I guess, luncheon or no luncheon, I know, at least, that I am, in no uncertain terms, his mother.......And knowing that is celebration enough for me.


TheFiveDays said...


HollyHobbie said...

As a mom to two autistic blessing ages 5 and 8 I can sympothise somewhat but I can also say I am greatful for them even when they "change my plans " they are my teachers and my treasures.

Looking forward to reading more of your blog .

Sincerely Holly Hobbie