Monday, April 26, 2010
Mom, this post is dedicated to you and since you asked about the 100 day kit I have to oblige. The 100 day kit is a free product designed to help families whose children who have been recently diagnosed. The purpose is to help give understanding of what autism is, what it means to the family, finding services and what can be done to treat it. When you are given either no information or too much information the diagnosis is literally overwhelming. The Internet is filled with information, but deciding what is useful and what is useless is difficult. This booklet is concise and exact. It is a map I wish we had it early in our autism journey.
Looking around my neighborhood growing up there was little competition in the mother of the year arena. It didn't matter, my mom would have won hands down anyway. There was nothing my mom couldn't accomplish for her kids, including winning back a favorite toy that was unfairly confiscated by a substitute kindergarten teacher. I loved how she let me dig up our backyard on my relentless search for fossils. As a kid I thought I knew her so well, but she would constantly surprise me.
One of the stories I love tell about my mom happened when I wasn't even there. I served a two year mission for my church. During the two years I didn't see my family at all. We spoke on the phone and emailed of course, but I lived in Eastern Europe and they were in America. As I'm told, on the first day of this separation, right after leaving me, my family went to get some lunch. They ordered sandwiches and brought them home. After they were all passed out there was one left and my mom wondered whose it was. When it struck her that she bought one for me she started to cry. This story brings emotion even nine years later. I love the phrase mother-heart, because my mom has one.
My mom was a constant teacher. One of the most memorable teaching moments from my childhood was when I had an earache. I came to her in pain, she gave me some medicine and let me lay my head on her lap. After laying and crying for a bit I asked if we could call my dad so he could come home early and give me a blessing. She said he couldn't come home but he could give me the blessing as soon as he did. Then she said, "A mother's prayer of faith can be just as powerful as a father's blessing." She said a prayer over her skeptical son and let him put his head down on her lap. I fell asleep and when I woke up my ear felt fine and my skepticism was gone. My mom's faith was something that sustained me many times.
I have already mentioned how on my worst, darkest day following Avi's diagnosis when I did not want to appear weak in front of Debbie I called my mom. She agreed to come over and appeared almost immediately. I, sobbing like a small child, fell into her arms where I stayed for several minutes. She patiently, understandingly and knowingly listened to me. I will never forget how kind she was as I sobbed and sputtered horribly. I wish everyone could know what it is like to have the unwavering, unflinching love of a wonderful mother.
Abraham Lincoln once said, "I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life." I feel the same way. My mother's prayers followed me across the ocean...twice. I knew that she was praying for me and thinking of me. I remembered her prayers from my youth. I still remember them.
It is said, "Daughters always become their mothers; that is their tragedy. Sons never do; that is theirs." My mom has set the bar pretty high, making it easy for me to never become like her. There are many more than five things my mother has always done or been that I wish I could be for my children, but here are some that stuck out to me.
1. Like my dad, I never had to wonder whether my mom loved me. She never left room for doubt. Her love was unconditional and undeniable. She was kind beyond measure and loving beyond reason. I never had to earn her love and would never have been deserving of it. I knew there was no question where I should run when times were tough and no question what the response would be.
2. On a that note, one of the things I love best about my mom is that it is impossible to have any kind of interaction with her without it ending in her saying she loves you. Anytime we speak on the phone, I stop in for even the shortest of visits or even text message, I am always guaranteed to hear that she loves me. One of my favorite quotes from Ed J. Pinegar is, "You are a child of God, who loves you. I don't know about you, but that gives me self esteem for life." Having a loving and expressive mother has given me self esteem for life.
3. My mom used to take us on individual "special times." You can imagine with five siblings getting this kind of quality time was difficult. I'm sure giving it was even more difficult for her. It was a chance to spend some time one on one doing whatever we wanted to do. Most of the time I picked donut holes at Dunkin' Donuts. There were other things I liked doing, but it didn't really matter what we did; I loved just sitting with my mom. We would talk about things she couldn't possibly have been interested in, but she listened all the same. I remember the feeling on these special times very well. I couldn't go on a special time but believe that I was not just her favorite child, but her favorite person on earth. She had a way of making me feel like the most important person.
4. I once had pet praying mantises. At first it was only one, but eventually I decided to add to my collection. Can you believe that my mother let me keep these things? I loved them and when the female devoured the male my mom was there to console me. After she consoled me she taught me. She explained how animals don't belong in jars and cages and need to be free. She taught me what happened was the natural order of things and even though I was sad for the male he would be with Heavenly Father. I let the female go and hoped the male would forgive me for putting him in with her.
5. I will preface this last one by saying this is no shock and you don't have to make any comments on the next sentence either in person or on the internet. When we lived in Florida my teachers sent me to be tested for the gifted program; I failed. (Like I said, no shock, right?) I felt like the test was going really well until he pulled out those blasted puzzles. I struggled and struggled to make the designs he had given me with those little plastic shapes. I could see the result from the look in his eyes and the way he was writing on his note pad. At the end of my test I went back to my mom and thought she would be so disappointed in me. It was quite the opposite. She hugged me and told me she was so proud of me. Then, and I'm breaking a promise not to tell here, she took me to McDonald's. Sorry siblings, but it's true. You know, as we sat there she never brought the test up, she didn't ask me what went wrong or what had happened. She only asked if I felt ok. What a reassurance. I may have failed my test, but my mother certainly passed hers.
My mom has taught me more than I will ever really know. Her example helped me choose a wife who would be, and is, a wonderful mother in her own right. There is no limit to her impact on me. She has influenced me in other ways that are too many and too dear to fully elaborate on here.