The Special Mother

Am I the only one getting countless ‘Just in Time of Mother’s Day’ emails? I didn’t think so. As Mother’s Day approaches and mothers around the globe are celebrated, this is for all of you – just in time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “I do not feel extraordinary”. I believe everyone has victories and challenges that are equal on the high and low scale. I also believe, with every fiber of my being, that I was chosen to be Jacob’s mother.

The following, titled The Special Mother, was written by Erma Bombeck over 30 years ago. My reactions to this poem are in blue.

Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures, and a couple by habit.

This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen? Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.

“Armstrong, Beth; son. Patron saint…give her Gerard. He’s used to profanity.”

“Forrest, Marjorie; daughter. Patron saint, Cecelia.”

“Rutledge, Carrie; twins. Patron saint, Matthew.”

Finally He passes a name to an angel and smiles, “Give her a handicapped child.”

The angel is curious. “Why this one God? She’s so happy.”

“Exactly,” smiles God, “Could I give a handicapped child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel.”    A piece of advice to engaged or newlywed couples—laugh with your spouse!  In my opinion, my man is still the funniest person on earth.  I knew laughter well when Jacob was born. 

“But has she patience?” asks the angel.

“I don’t want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she’ll handle it.”   Patience is at the top of the list of things I’ve learned, and will continue to learn, parenting Jacob. 

“I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I’m going to give her has his own world. She has to make him live in her world and that’s not going to be easy.”   Being first-born gave me a degree of independence, believing I could.  We share our world, sometimes he is in mine and sometimes I am in his.

“But, Lord, I don’t think she even believes in you.”  I was a believer, when Jacob was born, but my belief has been tested more than a few times.

God smiles, “No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect -she has just enough selfishness.” No one likes to admit they are selfish.  But at my core, it’s the truth.

The angel gasps – “Selfishness? Is that a virtue?”

God nods, “If she can’t separate herself from the child occasionally, she’ll never survive.”  Thankfully, I learned the value of time away with my spouse and with friends.  But, even though I understand how very valuable ‘me time’ is, I’m guilty of needing to be back with him soon.

“Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect.  And bless me, God did! Note: we are all less than perfect!

She doesn’t realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a “spoken word”.   I’m looking forward to that day in heaven. 

She will never consider a “step” ordinary.  After the neurologist told us Jacob might never walk, you better believe, watching him take a step was miraculous. 

When her child says “Mummy” for the first time, she will be present at a miracle, and will know it!”  Another heaven moment.

“I will permit her to see clearly the things I see…ignorance, cruelty, prejudice….and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life, because she is doing My Work as surely as if she is here by my side”.    I’ve seen those things and could only face the next day because I know that God is in me, with me, and for me.

“And what about her Patron saint?” asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air. God smiles, “A mirror will suffice.”  When I look in the mirror, I see the woman God made me to be.  Preparing me through my life to parent two boys. Knowing I would make it my life’s work to be there for them, guide them, protect them, and love deeply with my whole heart. 

May God bless you today,

And keep you all year through.

May God give you all the faith it takes,

To make your dreams come true.

May His love and wisdom always help,

To guide you on your way.

May His light shine down upon you now,

To bless your every day.

I was chosen. And so were you.


It is Going to Be Good

It was a beautiful morning.  Blue skies, 60 degrees with a soft gentle breeze.  I had driven Jacob to his day program and we were in a parking space with windows and doors open, enjoying the wonderful day. 

As vans pulled up with various riders, we watched guys and gals climb out and make their way into the building.  It was really quite nice.

A certain young lady got out with minimum assistance and started into the building.  She slowly walked by our open doors and that is when I heard her.  “I am not in the mood for this.  I am not in the mood for this. I am not in the mood for this.” 

Bless her, she was wearing a somber expression as she moved past us while mumbling to herself.  I couldn’t help but wonder what ‘this’ was.  An activity, a person, a meal? The staff member assisting her said something like, “remember what I told you, if you make up your mind to have a good day, you will. Tell yourself, it is going to be good.” 

Just this week, I’ve watched Jacob exhibit the same train of thought even though he isn’t able to speak the words. 

Monday was awesome from the wake-up to waving goodbye to him at the center.  He was calm and happy (the same way he was the day we witnessed his classmate grumbling). I repeated several times to his daddy that Jacob had been in such a good mood.  Those mornings are a gift. Seriously! 

Then the next day he got up on his own without a wake-up visit.  Only problem was, he was wearing his grumpy pants. As if getting out of bed was a really, really bad idea.  He didn’t want me around and resisted when I started getting him dressed.  We were about halfway done and I had to walk away to give us both a break.  Nothing pleased him.  He became destructive. I could not put my finger on the problem.  The only thing that made sense to me was he was not in the mood for this…

Reminds me of our then 5 y/o granddaughter who was explaining something her parents had put into place –   “We have some laminated cards ‘cause I was fussing, fussing, fussing.”   I don’t know what she was fussing about but if laminated cards would help Jacob, I need to make some for him!

Don’t we all have days like that?  Beautiful sky, perfect temperature, birds are singing and we aren’t having it. I am not in the mood for this. Thankfully, giving him some space and time, he was ready to go and we made it without incident.

Great days are a gift.  Mediocre days are, too.  Every day with Jacob makes me grow, smile, wonder, trust, ask for help, see the positive, examine my own mood, give thanks, and seek direction. 

Setting my face to see God’s hand—it is going to be good. 

Family Ties

I’ve said it enough, you are probably convinced, that hearing the word autism and your child’s name in the same sentence is devastating.  A gut punch that hurts.  It seems like a forever pain but it does ease up through the years.  

This past summer, I got this text from one of Jacob’s cousins:  I’m not sure if mom has told you about B having so much trouble in school and they thought he had dyslexia. So today we went for some testing. They said he is not dyslexic but possibly autistic. We have to go for further testing and see. I have cried for the past 2 hours.  

(Side note—I feel like this niece is half mine.  She is 5 weeks younger than my other son.  Once my sister commented that her daughter is so much like me.  She definitely has occupied a place in my heart for her whole life.  To know she is hurting makes me hurt, too.) 

My response:  Oh sweetie, I love you and wish I could hug you tight right now. He is going to be okay and so are y’all.  Your mom mentioned quite some time ago that school was a struggle for him but that was the extent of her comment. There are so many layers to autism and his may be more of a learning disability and on the high end of the spectrum. If that. Nothing I’ve seen with B screams autism but my exposure has mainly been with the non-verbal, severe end.  The testing center may or may not agree with what you were told today but they have great physicians who can point you in the right direction. Keep me posted. I am not in the know or part of any groups that would have relevant info for kids his age. I will be a listening ear if you’d like to talk or cry.  Oh, how I love you. God loves your family more. 

Three months later while we were out of state for a weekend getaway, I got a text from my sister:  N wanted me to text y’all to tell you that B has officially been diagnosed with autism.

Even though I knew it was a possibility, goodness it felt like another punch in the gut. We were hanging out with friends but my mind was far away. 

There were so many things that I quickly marked off as ‘nothing like Jacob’.  But the one thing that wouldn’t leave me is how a special needs child will always need their family more.  Sometimes a little more and sometimes, a lot.  A parent would do anything to save their child from pain, embarrassment, frustration, heartache.  That’s the part that weighs so heavy—we want to carry the burden for them. 

The blessing here is that this sweet boy has a really, REALLY wonderful family.   A brother with a heart bigger than Texas: 

Parents who will always fight for him and grandparents who will go the extra mile.  Great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins who are cheering him own in whatever he sets out to do.  And most importantly the love of God the Father. 

My niece shared this a couple of weeks ago:  This past year our B was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, and auditory processing disorder. He is smart as a whip but struggles academically. This has been a year of learning and understanding how his little brain works and functions. He is our special gift from God and we know HE has Mighty Plans for him! If you know B you know his smile is contagious, he is so funny and quick-witted. He loves tractors and can fix anything!! Our world is better with his beautiful soul!

Family ties born decades ago will always be there offering support and understanding—a strong, special bond. Our family tree has very deep roots that can weather the storms of autism.

Is it unusual to have autism in multiple members of a family?  Unfortunately, I personally know families who have more than one sibling affected.  What about first, second, third cousins?  I haven’t read enough to answer that.  There are genetic researchers and scientists on opposing sides of causes and cures. 

I do know this—God is not taken by surprise and has already put the right people in place for HIS purpose to be fulfilled in our families. Those people may be relatives or they may be friends that are so dear and near that they are ‘like’ family. We are both fortunate to have friends in that category. Just today I got a text from a friend. I read it out loud to my husband and said again, “we have the best friends”.

I want to be perfectly clear.  Would we have signed up for the autism club?  Honestly, no.  Now that we are members, do we want out?  No.  Do we wish life was easier for Jacob and precious B?  Absolutely, yes.  Are we thankful God chose us to be parents to these boys?  YES!  A million times.  YES!

This is my bottom line—autism in families does make them special.  They often stand out because they are different.  Different is good.  And by being transparent about our struggles, I hope it helps you embrace our differences and those you notice in others.  Ask questions, keep judgmental thoughts to yourself, extend a helping hand, be kind, try empathy instead of apathy. 

It’s tough for our boys when they realize they are not able to do something as expected.  Imagine how scary their world is when it looks, sounds, smells, tastes, and feels altogether different from their perspective versus ours.  Applaud their bravery!

In this month of Autism Awareness, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to my great nephew. 

And by great, I sincerely mean GREAT!  

Age Appropriate

When Jacob was much, much younger I heard that phrase over and over again. 

Age appropriate, what does that mean?

And who decides what’s best if you are twelve or nineteen?

I know a ‘guideline’ is all it is.

But can really put a guilt trip on a parent

When you know the quiz.

“Don’t give him baby toys. He needs to learn to play appropriately.”

“It isn’t appropriate for you to carry him on your hip.  He can walk, let him.” 

“Don’t hold his hands while he walks beside you.  That won’t be appropriate when he is _____ years old.”

“Challenge him with age appropriate activities.”

Blah, blah, blah…….   And, I began to really, really resent it. 

Age appropriate refers to a developmental concept whereby certain activities may be deemed appropriate or inappropriate to a child’s “stage” or level of development. … Although every child develops in a unique way, all children are expected to interact with their environment at an ageappropriate level.

Everything about being a parent is tough and wonderful on the same day. But throwing ‘age appropriate’ at a parent who is already struggling to do everything in their power to help their child, is just hard.  And, for me, wasn’t helpful.  I wanted to say, “No Fair”!

It became less of an issue for me at some point.  I don’t know when I let it go, but it wasn’t serving me or Jacob well.  And, I’m pretty sure we are both happier for it. 

He loves Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger Neighborhood, Curious George, Arthur, and Paw Patrol. He also enjoys the Weather Channel and Disney Movies. He has a kazillion toys for kids of all ages. (Many are usually on the floor in his room.) He listens to Wee Sing, Baby Time, Silly Songs, Creedence Clearwater Revival, MercyMe and more. He watches Terrific Trips, Fun Learning, Cat in the Hat, Veggie Tales, etc. These are just some of the sources of entertainment for him. He is all about variety—wouldn’t you agree? And if it makes his day better, I’m all for it!!

This past Christmas, his brother’s family gave Jacob this toy:

Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube

Educational toy teaches how sounds combine to create 8 Mozart masterpieces

Includes harp, flute, French horn, piano, and violin instrument sounds

Orchestra button plays all instruments at once

Lights flash to the tempo of the instruments

Recommended for budding young composers of all ages

Made with soft, rounded corners, it’s easy and safe for baby to hold

I’m so glad they ignored that the packaging says something like designed for babies as young as 3 months old.  Jacob LOVES this toy.  And, I do, too.  Even on the louder volume, it isn’t deafening.  And it is beautiful music—of course, come on it’s Mozart!!  Plus it lights up.  Everything about it screams – JACOB! A huge win in the gift department!

Sunday as I was making tea for lunch, I pulled out an old Tupperware pitcher. Jacob spotted the lid. He had the best time playing with it. Check out the video and you’ll see it made the perfect toy top. Now I’m on the lookout for another one to paint some fun colors so he can spin to his heart’s content!

Honestly, it can be difficult to find things and experiences that really make him happy. When we do, we are all over it!

It was one thing to encourage toys and activities that met his developmental age but another all together to be told when he was a teenager that he shouldn’t have children’s toys meant for a two year old.

Our focus is on what is appropriate for Jacob and it’s really great when we find something that makes him smile! One of his favorites is for him and his daddy to have fun at bedtime no matter his age!

World Autism Awareness Day

Tomorrow, April 2, 2021 is the official day set aside to encourage more communication, to raise awareness, to strive to make the world a better place for those with autism and those that love and support them. I’ve also seen January and October as autism awareness months. Not sure which is correct but more is better, in my opinion.

Followers of this blog have been getting glimpses into our autism for over two years now. And you’ve responded in such kindness as you learned. Did you know that the first case documented by Johns Hopkins University was a 10 year old boy from Forest, Mississippi?  It’s been most interesting for us through the years because Forest was home to Jacob’s great grandparents and his grandparents still call it home. 

Don Triplett was institutionalized at 3 years old but a year later removed from the facility because his parents noted he was becoming more and more withdrawn.  The year was 1943 when Dr. Leo Kanner used the term, autism, to diagnose a social and emotional disorder.

In the blog post:  Autism Awareness,, I shared a hard story.  I thought today, I’d share a happy one.

Last week while Jacob was at his Day Program, I got a text from the manager: I have to tell you, Jacob has been such a character today. He’s been in a good mood all day.  Smiling and exploring and picking on us.  He even ‘hugged’ me and G earlier today. 

This text came about an hour before pick-up time.  I was especially happy to hear it because he had gotten up at 5:30 that morning!!  Yes. He. Did.  So much for wanting to sleep later because of the time change.  He was wide awake and ready to go 2 hours before our normal departure time.  I felt sure that early wake-up would lead to grumpiness and/or a long nap! 

Doesn’t this text make you happy, too?  When I saw the word ‘character’.  I thought, uh oh!  I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad.  Obviously, I quickly discovered it was all good.

When we went to pick him up, this manager, was outside and proceeded to confirm Jacob’s great day.  A staff member walked up that I hadn’t met.  When I introduced myself, K said, I had heard about Jacob and couldn’t wait to meet him.  He didn’t disappoint and has been so much fun.  Then, J saw us and said, “Jacob has had the best day, he has done a funny dance I’ve never seen him do”.  Then G (the recipient of a hug earlier), made a point to tell us what a fun day. 

Autism is so many things. This chart is pretty accurate when it comes to how Jacob is affected by it.

But today, today is when autism made my heart smile.  Without words, he communicated clearly with the staff and we could go home talking about the GREAT day!