I saw myself today in another mother’s eyes. For a moment I could not breathe. The pain and hurt welled up in my chest and throat. I saw tears in her eyes as she watched her daughter play; the love and joy and pride so fierce! Yet also seeing the agony of knowing just how painful it is for her precious little girl to be so close to other children, taking turns in a game no less! And at the same time exhilaration that her daughter was DOING IT! I was overwhelmed! We watched our kids play together, my son, her daughter, along with another beautiful girl. They PLAYED! I wanted to yell out my excitement! YES! I contained myself somehow. We were watching them behind a two-way mirror. We could see them in a play room with two ABA trainers “playing” with them but they could not see us, watching them, cheering them on silently in our hearts. We were encouraging of each other as parents. Some kind of bond, a knowing, an understanding on a completely different level was there.
I wonder what other parents would make of this scene. Parents with typical kids. Would it even look like playing to those parents. Each child needed different reminders or prompts for what was expected next in this time of “forced” socialization. The little girl sitting next to my son could barely look at anything but the floor but when prompted she looked at my son and said, “Your turn.” and my son looked back at her, if only for a second. But they LOOKED at each other! Another silent cheer from us!
I wanted to tell this other mother, “I see! I know! It is okay! It will be okay!” How can I begin to tell her that I feel the pain, the fear, the pride and the love all at once, too? For the last year I have felt so alone. I know no one personally who has a child on the autism spectrum let alone someone who lives very near us with a child the same age! I saw in her eyes what runs through my heart every day! Can others see this in my eyes too? If so, no one has admitted it to me. Is it only us parents with children on the spectrum that can see it?
For the first time I felt less alone when I saw myself in that other mother’s eyes. Does she see it in me too? Because I know, she knows! The raw emotion bubbles so near the surface. I could use a friend that gets it! I hope she does see because then maybe she can understand just how good she made me feel not to feel so alone.