Sunday was UK Mother’s Day. Five years ago on UK Mother’s Day, I learned I was pregnant. I called my mum that day to tell her she was going to be a grandmother, she was almost as surprised as I was. Anyone who knows my mum knows that she can’t be called by that word. She is all life and energy and there is nothing granny about her. Pudding would call her Nanny. That was our first Mother’s Day with Pudding. Not that I knew she was Pudding then. Not that I was really a mother then. I had no idea what was in store. I felt at the time that I’d never beat giving my mother that phone call that day. I was wrong.
I’ve subsequently had a few Mother’s Days. More than you’d think, actually. I claimed the UK one, as that is the one I’ve always done. I also got the American one, because the kids are…you know, Americans, and Luxembourg had a different one, and given that my kids were born there, it felt only right that I should get that one too. This mothering is hard work, you know…you get a perk, you take it. I took all three, wouldn’t you? Spectrummy Daddy worked out that he still only got the one day, so when we left Luxembourg I had to give that one up. I still keep two though. I have Cubby, so I’m mothering twice as hard as I was before!
The one thing I haven’t managed in the last five years is to spend a Mother’s Day with my mum. We have to make do with a call. We usually do a skype video call so that she can see Pudding and Cubby. Or at least so that she can see Cubby, because Pudding tends to canter out of the room as soon as she hears the dial tone. The more we try to draw her close, the more she backs away. She needs to be in just the right frame of mind to talk, but guessing when that is, and accommodating time zones is not the easiest. Trying to create and maintain relationships with loved ones at a distance is a hard enough endeavour, you throw an ASD into the mix and it becomes
impossible hopeless insurmountable a challenge. I tried the tactic of calling while the kids ate lunch, in the hopes that she would stay in her chair and be seen in the background at least.
Instead, all the stars aligned in the sky. She came up and crawled into my lap. She gave her grandparents five minutes of social Pudding, the one who adores the limelight. She had a conversation, blew kisses, she told her grandparents that she loved them, and then made up an impromptu song about Mother’s Day for her Nanny (to the tune of Happy Birthday). It was everything I’d hoped for since Florida. It was everything I’d hoped for since that phone call five years previously. Later her other grandmother called- it was her birthday. We couldn’t really hope for two such rare performances on the same day, but that was what she delivered.
In fact, the whole day she was just a golden child. She was incredibly well-behaved, and a delight to be around. It was a day when I could really see the beautiful fruits of my labour, and relish in the pleasure of motherhood. A Mother’s Day. A gift to her grandmothers, and a gift to me too. I hoped it would last.
Yesterday was a lousy one. One day she was perfectly in sync, the next she was out of it again. One day she was so incredibly present, the next distant. One day she sought affection and connection, the next she was aggressive and withdrawn. Nothing I did helped, I just had to let her be. The contrast of one day to the next was sobering. The real mothering happens when it isn’t so easy, trying to be close when I’m pushed away. It doesn’t matter, I’ll still be here every day. I’ll wait to be pulled back into her orbit, ready for that next magical alignment.
Even if it turns out I only get a day like that on Mother’s Day, at least I have another one to come this year.