by Dan Coulter, Coulter Video, April 28, 2005
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We all want to make a difference. We all crave feedback.
As Mothers' Day gets closer, I'm thinking about moms of kids
with Asperger Syndrome and other Autism Spectrum Disorders who
give a lot, but don't always get a lot of feedback from their
kids. The way their kids' brains are wired sometimes makes it
hard for them to express appreciation -- or let mom know how
much impact she's having.
But so many mothers keep up the support, constantly working with
their kids to help them overcome their frustrations and make the
most of their strengths. Some of these moms see breakthroughs in
younger children. Some watch for years for confirmation that
they're doing the right things and making a difference in their
kids' lives. This applies to dads too. We'll talk about dads
closer to Fathers' Day, but today's article is for moms.
Sometimes mothering is a shifting balance between joy and worry.
If you're feeling like, "I've had my allotment of worry and
would like a generous helping of joy, thank you very much," I'd
like to share a moment my wife, Julie, had recently. Our son,
Drew, who has Asperger Syndrome, has given his mom and me a lot
of joy over the years. But this was a first.
Julie was on the phone with Drew, who's away at college. After
they hung up, she turned to me and said, "Wow. For the first
time in 21 years, Drew told me he loved me without me saying it
This made me think about the young man Drew's become and all the
positive things I see in him that have been influenced by his
A song Bette Midler sings called, "My Mother's Eyes," came to
mind. The song was written by Tom Jans and it captures something
about the lifelong bond between a mother and child. Jans writes
about how he "got my mother's eyes" and about how the way he
looks at the world was shaped by his mom.
Part of the song goes, "Well I keep walking with my head held
high, with my head to the sky, with my mother's eyes."
Moms can give us our confidence and our conscience. My mom and
dad were shaped the Great Depression and World War II. They
always put their kids' needs first. At one time, my dad worked
at three jobs (one full-time and two part-time) to provide for
us. My mom was always there to make us feel safe and warm. She
could tell great stories and defuse her kids' arguments with her
sense of humor. Later in life, she did an amazing job of taking
care of my dad before he passed away.
I still see right and wrong through the things she taught us
kids and the example she set. I know I didn't express anywhere
near enough appreciation while I was growing up. But I always
felt special when Mom showed she was proud of me. (And Mom,
because I know you'll read this, I still care about making you
Jans' song continues, "Have I seen all that I could? Have I seen
more than I should? With my mother's eyes?"
Your kids may not always let you know how much progress you're
making, molding them into the best people they can be. They may
not know themselves.
But everything you do is helping to shape them and their values
and give them at least some of the keys you've found to unlock a
Whether or not you get direct feedback, I'm betting as you watch
them grow, you'll see how much farther they go than they could
have gone without you. And, as Julie and I learned, you never
know when you'll get a burst of feedback about how much your
guidance mattered. Is it possible to overestimate the influence
a mother can have?
I know it would be hard to find a better measure for my most
important decisions than how they'd look -- in my mother's eyes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dan Coulter is the writer/producer of the
video, "INTRICATE MINDS: Understanding Classmates with Asperger
Syndrome." You can find more articles on his website at:
Copyright 2005 Dan Coulter Used By Permission All Rights
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