In celebration of the Mother’s Day I share a personal story about my Mom and a couple of stories from Moms (yes, with a capital “M”) from the Convaid | R82 community who each exemplify poet Robert Browning’s perspective on motherhood: All love begins and ends there.
My mother was the child of immigrants and went to work at the age of 13 alongside her mother in a factory in Chicago. She met my dad at 15. Married at 19 and I came along a few years later. Then, almost three years later my brother Mickey arrived. At first glance, he was a chubby, smiling, bubble baby boy. As he grew into a toddler my parents suspected that something was a little different about Mickey.
In the 1960s and early 1970s special needs were not identified as such and there was a stigma associated with children that were not typical. The term Autism Spectrum did not yet exist in the parlance of the mental health community.
She called Mickey her special child and early on decided that she would sidestep what traditional medicine had to offer in those days and simply went on to treat my brother with love.
Mickey was always front and center. We traveled together, camped, socialized – and mom shrugged off the overheard comments.
Her steadfast praise of Micky’s forward progress in anything – speech, socialization, involvement with family members – was met with enthusiastic praise. Behaviors that were challenging were met with something I now know to be putting behaviors on extinction – basically, neutralizing and disempowering tantrums, repetitive behaviors and self-harm.
Fast forward to now, I have learned that what my mother did was an instinctive form of behavior therapy, the kind that psychologists and behavioral technicians use to typify behaviors of children living within the Autism Spectrum. Even when Mickey got older, he lived with our mom until her untimely death at 59.
Three days prior to her final breath on March 20, 1993, my Mom somehow mustered the energy to get in her power wheelchair with oxygen tanks in tow to scoot to an bookstore and bought and mailed me a book of paintings of mothers and their children by Mary Cassatt.
As she was buying my gift, I was in transit to visit her the weekend that her frail body gave out. When I came home after her funeral a few weeks later, a package was waiting for me. It was from my Mom. It was this book filled with paintings of mothers and children – the last gift I ever received from my mother.
It is this same love that I experience in my day-to-day dealings with the many Convaid | R82 mothers and fathers who live a life of devotion to their children living with special needs.
I share here some outpourings from the lives of our Convaid | R82 extended families in celebration of Mother’s Day.
Lady Gaga writes, “Acceptance, tolerance, bravery, compassion. These are the things my mom taught me.” Me, too.
Grandmother Dawn Moreno writes about her grandson, Andrew, a Convaid | R82 Ambassador living with Cornelia deLange Sydrome writes:
With advances in prenatal care I believe there comes a sense of security that a typical healthy newborn will soon arrive. On August 16, 2010, after a very normal, healthy, full term pregnancy it was time to welcome a new family member.
On this hot East Coast summer day, in a labor and delivery suite, we anxiously waited on the arrival of our third grandchild. Nothing prepared anyone in the room for what was to have happened that day. The atmosphere in the room was lighthearted. We enjoyed upbeat conversations about family, children, pregnancy and experiences with the expectant mom, dad, grandma and grandpa, two nurses and an ob/gyn. There was no rushing and no active delivery stage.
I am Andrew’s grandmother and I share my personal story with the Convaid community. Every detail remains ingrained in my memory as if it were yesterday, not 5-1/2 years ago. The whole experience was surreal. Suddenly, without warning, we’ve landed in Holland. Read more . . .
When you are a mother you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always thinks twice, once for herself and once for her child. – Sophia Loren
Mom Alexis Snyder is a long-time mitochondrial disease activist. Her beautiful teenager, Sara, is typical in all aspects and lives an life between school, her music, travels, family and her social life.
Alexis writes about the challenges of living with an Invisible Disability. She also shares other moments of Sara’s life through the eyes of motherhood.
A mother understands what a child does not say. – Jewish proverb