Evolution of a Special Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day – A special day of reverence.

A day where many of us focus our love and efforts on showing our moms, grandmothers, and mother figures just how much we love them, and how much we appreciate all that they do for us.

For others, Mother’s Day is a day to mourn a loss, and reminisce about pleasant memories of the past.

When someone mentions Mother’s Day to me, my immediate mental image recall is of a specific photo on a particular mother’s day when the kids were little and I was completely overwhelmed.

The day that was supposed to be such a special day was more stressful than most other days of the year.

There were expectations that I could never meet. The expectations were my own that had grown out of family tradition.

Hello, my name is Val and I run a blog titled Autistic Interpretations. I have an autistic blind daughter. Jess is amazing and is now 31-years-old and is the oldest of my three children.


That mental image I mentioned, well, here’s the story behind the photo. That picture was taken right as we were about to leave the house for church, followed by visits to two mothers and two grandmothers.

To this day, I remember how I felt in that moment. Defeated, frustrated, maybe a little sad, and disappointed. I had spent the entire morning attempting to get 3 kids ready to go, and cooking food to take with us to a gathering.

That moment that we briefly stopped and took a picture, I had not had time to get myself ready to go. I was clean, my hair was dried, and I had quickly picked out a dress to wear. I had no time to style my hair, no time for makeup, no time to look special. It was time to go.

When I look at this photo, I see three unhappy kids and me smiling like everything was okay. That was the public me, putting forth the face that I showed to everyone else.

This was the story for all mothers days for many consecutive years. Maybe I remember this particular picture because it might have been the only Mother’s Day picture we took during those years.

As a 50-year-old with lots of life experience and 100% more self-esteem and confidence, I look back on those years and wish I could tell my younger self some things.

I would tell my younger self how unimportant it is to fit into a cookie cutter mold of how things are supposed to be. I would give myself permission to change traditions.

Then, I would put my hands on my younger self’s shoulders, look eye to eye and say, “Ask for help. It’s okay. It would not mean that you are a failure. Let your loved ones in on your secret.

Tell them how hard it is.” I would tell myself how keeping that secret for so long would impact my marriage, my happiness, and my health forever.

To younger mothers starting out on this special needs journey, please let me encourage you that you don’t have to be a supermom.

The more you try to be super, the less others understand how your life is impacted. Set your own expectations and let them be reasonable. Ask for help when needed, and accept it when it’s offered.

On Mother’s Days of the recent past, I admit that I didn’t go to church. I didn’t get up early and take time to look special.

Instead, I woke up when I woke up, and lounged around in my pj’s until I was ready to do something else.

Sometime during the day, I visited my mother. It’s almost that simple – except for the routine caregiving that is an everyday part of my life.


For the first time ever, we are traveling on Mother’s Day.

This year, I woke up in a really messy hotel room the morning after my youngest child graduated from college. With my two girls and their father, I had a seriously average complimentary continental breakfast.

My mom and dad stopped by for a quick visit after which we took way too long to get packed back up. We managed to get that done all the while keeping Jess content and calm.

Her dad was the one stressing out trying to figure out how in the world we were going to squeeze an incredible amount of luggage, backpacks, electronics, hats, pool floats, and food back into a sedan for a 3.5 hour drive. This year…

We’re going to Disney World!

Written by, Val Vaughn 

Val is a BSN Registered Nurse, an independent contractor, and a writer. Most importantly, she is a mother: to Jess – an adult with multiple disabilities including autism and cortical vision impairment, to a son entering his second year of Neurology Residency, and to a daughter who just graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education, American Sign Language English Interpreting.

In 2015, I began blogging as a way to tell Jessica’s story so that her voice can be heard, and to spread her joy. My biggest goal with blogging is to take some of the mystery out of what it is like when special needs children grow into special needs adults. I want to let others know that this life can be good – fulfilling and rewarding. You can follow our journey on Instagram: @autistic_interpretations, on Facebook: @autisticinterpretations or on our website at www.autisticinterpretations.com.

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Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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