Dec 26, 2011 0 Share

Many Ways to Love

The author hugging her children in Times Square in winter.
Photo by Coenraad van der Poel

My husband asked me when I was going to write a column about what it was like to not get a hug from your son. My immediate response was a bit on the defensive side. I told him that Cameron lets me hug him from time to time, and that allowance is more than most moms get in the autism universe. But then I started to think a bit about the well-intended writing prompt. I’m sure my husband notices that I never miss an opportunity to grab our daughter and smother her with kisses. It stands to reason that he would think I’m aching for that type of interaction with Cameron. While it’s quite true that Cameron isn’t very demonstrative, he does show his love in countless other ways that feel just as good as a spontaneous warm hug. How does he love me? Let me count the ways:

Cameron strives to live up to the expectations we have of him. He does his chores without prompting. You don’t know how good it feels to open the dishwasher, expecting to have to unload it, only to discover that Cameron has been there first. Everything is put away where it should be, and anything left in sink purgatory has been moved to the dishwasher. That feeling of pride and love overwhelms me when I realize that Cameron has done exactly what he’s supposed to do.

Cameron respects me and understands that we have different priorities. Cameron has a pattern of dressing, in that he wears a certain type of shirt on certain days of the week. When one of his button down shirts had to go out of the rotation due to a missing button, he dropped casual hints about the needed repair. He understands my challenge with a needle and thread, and only sporadically asked how the shirt was coming along. I knew how important that shirt was to his routine, and the fact that he didn’t nag me about it for the month and a half it took me to finally get around to fixing it made me proud. He knows I’m busy and never considers his needs more important than mine, even if they are.

Cameron wants to be more independent and he appreciates every little nugget I teach him that gains him more independence. Whether it be cooking an omelet or tracking his bank account, Cameron really wants to learn. And when he expresses his gratitude for this education, whether in words or actions, I feel as though my heart may burst with love.

Cameron is certainly no Momma’s Boy, that’s for sure. But it’s clear to me that I’m one of his favorite people on this planet. I remember when he was 4 years old and I was going through a particularly rough time. We were drawing with chalk on the sidewalk, and he said, “Draw Mommy.” I drew a stick figure with great hair. He said, “Draw Mommy sad.” I drew tear drops on the face of the stick figure with great hair. Cameron patted the sidewalk and said, “Oh. Poor Mommy.” I didn’t need him hugging my neck at that moment to know how much he loved me.