|A Mother's Day gift from Leo.
[image: Small decorated terra cotta pot with
emerging seedlings. A printed icon attached to
a popsicle stick is stuck in the soil, has illustrations
of four flowers, and reads, "Flowers for Mom".]
I see your joys, and I see your sorrows.
I see you when you are having a tough day yet still manage to interact with your child with respect and kindness.
I see you when you keep your voice calm during crises, because you know your child is extra-sensitive to emotions and they need you to help them keep it together, or get it back together.
I see you when you don't blame your kid for things they can't help, like meltdowns and accidentally breaking things.
I see you when you can't afford to replace the broken things, and you still don't blame your child.
I see you when you defend and protect your child when other people try to blame them for things they can't help.
I see you when you stand up to people who think they can talk smack about your child like they aren't present, and may be absorbing every word.
I see you when you correct, side-eye, or edge away from people who don't know any better than to view your parenting life as something to pity.
I see you when you are cool with your kid's visceral need to sing, hum, flap, stomp, stim, or line things up, even in public—and you make sure your kid knows it.
I see you when you negotiate with siblings who have a tough time with their autistic sibling singing, humming, flapping, stomping, stimming, and lining things up, because they have their own sensory and neurodivergence things going on.
I see you when you teach your child, and gently remind them, about respecting other people's spaces and sensory needs too.
I see you when you teach their child that their "no" matters, however they express it.
I see you when you just don't go some places, because they're too stressful for your child.
I see you when you make a hasty exit from places you really thought your child would like, because they turn out to be too overwhelming for your child.
I see you when you retry going to those places a few years later, because your child is growing and maturing and maybe they'll be OK with those places now.
I see you when you visit places repeatedly because they make your child so happy, and when your child is happy, so are you.
I see you struggle after your child's autism diagnosis, because everything is so new and overwhelming, and useful, hopeful information is so frustratingly hard to find.
I see you when family members just don't know what to say, and other parent friends drift away.
I see you when you find parents who do get what your kind of parenting is like, and help you find the useful, hopeful information you need. I see you embrace that solidarity.
I see you when you find private spaces to openly talk about your kids and your parenting, and with people who empathize and understand—without judging you or violating your trust.
I see you when people say awful things to you about your parenting, and you shake it off because people who think insults are the same thing as arguments aren't worth your time.
I see you when you cry because mean and thoughtless people talking smack about you or your kid sucks, and sometimes you can't just shake off mean and thoughtless speech.
I see you when you struggle but take the time to listen to other parents of autistic kids who are struggling, too.
I see you when you listen to people who make you rethink your approaches to parenting and autism, even when it's hard to hear you may have made mistakes.
I see you when you realize that your autistic child experiences the world very differently than you do, because you aren't autistic.
I see you when you seek out autistic perspectives to help you understand how your child experiences the world, so you can advocate for them effectively and empathetically.
I see you when you realize that, hot damn, everything is so much easier for everyone in your family now that you have a better understanding of why your autistic child does what they do and wants what they want.
I see you when you have a hard time not because your child is autistic, but because you share some of their autistic traits, and having those traits makes the demands of parenting extra-hard.
I see you when you tell people that, actually, you're autistic too—and they suddenly start treating you differently.
I see you when you realize there are really OMG really a lot of other autistic and neurodivergent parents of other autistic kids out there—even if many of them don't realize it yet.
I see you when you reach out to and mentor other parents who are new to parenting autistic kids.
I see you when you're up in the middle of the night because your kid is up, too—and it's hard, but you don't blame your kid.
I see you when you can't help falling asleep the moment you sit down.
I see you when the school bus driver then knocks on your door with your kid because you really did not mean to fall asleep and you spend at least five minutes apologizing while horrified.
I see you when you triage matters like laundry and ideally balanced meals because there are only so many hours in the day and at least some of those need to involve you sleeping.
I see you when you decide that a life spent triaging is still a full life.
I see you when you go to the mat for your child's education and accommodations and communication and medical needs, even when those are uphill and seemingly fruitless battles—and even when you are sleep-deprived.
I see you when you never have a day off of parenting, and still find space for laughter and fun.
I see you when you never have a day off of parenting, and wonder how you're going to get through the next few hours.
I see you when you don't have the supports and respite you and your child need and deserve.
I see you when you never give up on advocating for your child.
I see your joy when your child does something "they" said your child might never do.
I see you when you accept that your child may never do some things, and you adapt.
I see you when you make sure your child knows how much you love them, and that you don't expect them to show their love in exactly the same way.
I see you when you learn to see what makes your child happy, and share in their specific and intense joys.
I see you when you stop caring about whatever "normal" means, and start cherishing "happy" or even "content" instead.
I see you when you are your child's safe space, especially when the rest of the world makes being autistic so hard and so stressful.
...and I hope you have other people who see you too, and listen to you, and love you for everything you do for your family.