Getting Real With Amalia Starr

Just hearing the words, Mother’s Day, sends tears streaming down my face and forces me to sit down. It makes me reflect on the past, where I have come from to where I am today.

My first son, Matt, was born forty years ago. He was adorable, sweet, and easy to parent. Then two and half years later my second son, Brandon was born and my life began to fall apart. Yes, he has autism, epilepsy, and severe learning disorders. The road has been more than bumpy, it has needed paving many times over and major construction work often. It has been a very long and extremely difficult journey. I don’t want to pretend that getting to where we are today did not take tons of hard work from both Brandon and myself. But what made it work was patience, acceptance, and most of all, love, unconditional love. Yes, I know you have heard this before, but it is so true.

Brandon has given me a second chance in life, an opportunity to become a much kinder, caring and loving person. He has given me the strength to discard or change old negative behaviors.  He has taught me the true meaning of life by forgetting anything negative, and to focus on what is important – the here and now, today, not yesterday, not tomorrow. He simplifies life and focuses on what is at hand. He does not have many friends and is not able to express himself very well and is very naive. He has great difficulty in making his bed and opening cans are nearly impossible. He will never be able to drive a car so walking and buses are what he relies on to get him to where he is going. He is a simple man at age thirty-eight, and yet even when the professionals told us he would never be able to live alone we did not listen.

Brandon is a very determined man and when he wants something, he gets it. What a fabulous trait to have. There has not been much that he has wanted over the years, but living alone was not up for discussion, because he had to live by himself due to all the negative treatments he had received from his peers over all the years while growing up.

Yes, as parents we are fearful and extremely worried about our autistic children and what will happen to them as adults, and rightly so. But sometimes we are asked to dig deep, very deep, and to trust and be courageous, more courageous than anyone thought possible. There were many times I would ask myself if I had made a big mistake by allowing my son to be on his own. But over time, I saw Brandon grow and develop from experiencing everyday life. That was encouraging enough to allow my son to continue his dream of independence.

Next week, Brandon will be celebrating fourteen years of independence. His life is far from perfect and never will be. Almost everyday there are challenges for him to work through. My goal is to keep Brandon living independently long after I am gone. I will work with him until the day I leave the planet. He is my inspiration. He gave me my calling. Today, I am an autism motivational speaker, independent living coach, and author. We have a very rich and deep connection, even when no words are spoken. As far as for my oldest son Matt, this is the year to rekindle the beautiful relationship we once had.  It is true the squeaky wheel gets the grease. It is time Matt gets more attention from me.  The beautiful part of all this is that it is never too late.

Moms, I know you too work very hard so please do something special for yourself today. You know what they say, “If mom is happy so is the rest of the family.”

Happy Mother’s Day!