Parenting an A-Typical child requires a mom to give all of herself, emotionally and physically. It is non-stop, relentless, and very often thankless, but for the mothers of A-typical children, it’s just another day. They honor these demands on their time, bodies and selves without asking for help, complaining or uttering a single negative word about their situation. And because they stay silent about their challenges, it’s hard for those closest to them to even know they need help, let alone what to say or do.
But the truth is they do need help, and that help begins with a kind word that shows them that you get it. If you have the mother of an A-typical child in your life, one of these phrases could be the only thoughtful, truly heartfelt thing she hears all day. So say them – as often as you can – because you can’t imagine the impact they’ll leave. And if you ARE the mother of an A-typical child, forward this article onto those closest to you, so they know what you need to hear the most.
- May I help?
Even though she’ll say, “No, no problem. I’ve got it. We’re managing.”, don’t stop there. Mothers of A-typical children are so used to being superwomen that the thought of allowing someone else to chip in literally never enters their minds. They just assume they’ll be doing everything themselves, so as an important person in their life, you have to force them to allow you to help out.
- That sucks.
When she shares something with you, like a particularly challenging day lobbying for better care or helping her child actively learn simple skills that other children learn intuitively, surprise her with this deceptively simple one-liner. And if you’re really, really blessed, that validation will enable her to let her guard down and reveal her vulnerable side. And when she does, don’t try to fix the problem. Don’t even try to help. While she’s venting or talking things through, just be there to validate her. Listen. Say, “That really sucks”. Be her safe space, her ear. Most mothers of A-typical children hate to admit weakness, so opening up in this way will cement your relationship in a truly sacred, secret way.
- Take your time. I’m in no hurry.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Life in an A-typical world is a constant juggle, and the mom in your life is on perpetual overload. She’s trying to do it ALL, and she hates the idea of inconveniencing anyone – you, her spouse, the checkout guy at the grocery store or the people in line behind her. So when you see her rushing to get ready, battling the world, wrestling the groceries, or trying to wrangle a kid who is too immersed in his own mind to respect the time, rules and space of others, give her a gift: your patience. Smile warmly and simply say, “Take your time. I’m in no hurry.”
- I hope you realize you’re doing an amazing job.
As I mentioned before, mothering an A-typical child is quite often a thankless job. And in the trenches of motherhood, moms of A-typical children often get stuck dwelling on how overwhelmed, inadequate and unqualified they feel. Other moms get their “atta-girls” when their child does something socially acceptable and respected, but moms of A-typical children don’t get that feedback. They do this job thanklessly without the hope that one day their child will appreciate the lengths they went to because they know, ultimately, that day may not come. So show the mom in your life that you see how she is contributing to the world. Show her the recognition she so desires. Give her kindness, because she really needs it.
- I see where he gets his beautiful eyes.
The mom of an A-typical son or daughter spends a lot of time thinking about all of the ways her child is different from “the rest of us”. That’s why one of the greatest gifts you can give her is the reminder that her child isn’t as disconnected as she thinks. Tell her you noticed he has her eyes, her nose or her laugh. By pointing out these similarities, you’re reminding the mom in your life that her child is a part of us – a part of her – and that he is beautiful, A-typical and absolutely perfect.