When families get together for Hallmark holidays, it’s NOT always hearts and flowers, right? I’m sure there’s a mom or two out there who reached for some Advil or Tums on their special day in response to an unpredictable relative creating drama during Mother’s Day festivities. Or maybe you’re one of those moms who wears an invisible suit of armor during family celebrations—just in case a jousting match ensues—you’ll be insulated from unpleasant surprises. (I leave it to the reader’s imagination to figure out whether I’m one of those moms. . .)
But sometimes a wonderful, heartwarming surprise occurs on Mother’s Day. Receiving gifts, flowers, and cards from family members are (mostly?) the norm. But what if you received a Mother’s Day card from someone truly unexpected?
I’m happy to report that this year I was the recipient of a Mother’s Day card from Sarah’s boyfriend (an “Aspie” on the spectrum). Not only did Sarah’s boyfriend send me a card, he also presented one to my mother. For anyone who thinks people on the autistic spectrum uniformly lack warmth, empathy and social skills, it’s obviously time to think again! Yes, Sarah’s boyfriend has been brought up well and taught good manners. (There are still people on and off the spectrum who think manners matter, Thank God.) Sarah and her boyfriend have had a serious relationship for almost two years now. Still, there are plenty of neurotypical young adults from good families who don’t display basic courtesy—forget about buying cards for their girlfriend’s mother and grandmother. Maybe some people would argue that buying a card for your girlfriend’s mom and grandma is unnecessary or over-the-top. But not me. As the receiver of just such a card, I was touched and delighted (and so was my mom).
The front of my card said: “Mom, last week everyone jumped off a cliff but I didn’t go.” On the inside, it asked: “Aren’t you proud of me? Happy Mother’s Day.”
Yes, Jake, I’m proud of you. And I’m hoping that—in the not too distant future—the rest of the neurotypical world wakes up enough to recognize the intelligence, tenderness and talents that you and others on the spectrum have to offer planet earth.