It was really difficult for me to think of a time when I had cried tears of joy. Most of the time that I cry when I’m happy, my tears are tears of relief rather than joy.
I did think of a time that I did cry tears of joy. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is my story.
My Cherry Blossom (not her real name, of course) and I are both autistic. I didn’t get a formal diagnosis until I was put through testing just as CB had been two years previously. It explained a lot about me, and it highlighted how every flavor of autism is different.
I didn’t know that CB was neurodivergent until she lost her words. She started saying simple words at around nine months, but by the time she was two years old, all of that was gone. She was mute, and she communicated by gesticulation and grunting, and by hitting or kicking me whenever she got frustrated.
After CB was diagnosed, a local organization helped us get copies of Signing Time and Baby Signing Time for free. It turned out that verbal speech and ASL use different neural pathways, so while CB was in speech therapy to relearn how to talk with her voice, we were able to learn some signs in ASL together so that she could be heard even without spoken words.
Things progressed, and as CB was able to use more spoken words, we used ASL less and less (which is sad, because it is a great language that should have more fluent speakers).
I remember the first time she called me Mama. It was unexpected, and it was beautiful.
It may have been vain.
It might have been selfish.
I own it.
CB was my only child then, and I thought I would never have any other children back then.
I had wanted to be a mother all of my life, and to hear the word I didn’t know if I would ever hear again was miraculous, and I felt joy that she called me by my name again.
CB now talks a lot. She still has a lot of challenges, but she’s smart, and I believe in her. I believe that she will achieve anything she wants to achieve, even it takes her longer than other children.
CB relearned how to speak because she wanted to be able to speak, and I am proud of her for her hard work.
And I am selfishly joyful she calls me “Mom.”
I can live with that.