Why Can I Show Empathy to Others but Not My Mom


I went into quite an uproar. I was not thinking about the person who had been up since five-thirty in the morning and couldn’t sleep. I only thought about myself, my needs, and how I didn’t want to do my homework.

You see, due to my autism, I am incredibly literal, and that can make some school work harder for me to interpret now that I am climbing the ladder of my college-level classes. I felt insecure and inadequate but I didn’t know these were my feelings.

All I knew was I was mad. At these points and times, no matter what my mom does, I will not hear her until I calm down and have my epiphany on my own.

“Jennie, you want to be independent.”

She had helped me with parts she knew would be difficult for me to understand but left the parts she knew I was capable of, and I just wanted it done, but the next thing she said rang true yet enraged me. I guess because I don’t like always hearing the truth and taking it the wrong way. She told me, “Jennie, you want to be independent. You preach independence and how much you want it. You signed up for this, not me. I am not going to come home from work and do your homework when you are perfectly capable of doing it yourself.”

I finally went and took a break, stuck amidst a meltdown. I was not getting her message until we had a calm conversation on the couch after I had proceeded to bash her and my brother via text message because of my insecurities, which I hadn’t figured out yet.

One thing she texted stung my core. “Your brother moved out when he was eighteen and hasn’t asked for a penny since he left.” Oh, how I wish I were capable of such things, and I know I will get there.

We are not the only ones, and we are not alone. 

We did clarify that later and it amist my tears. She told me I am a gift, she loves taking care of me, and she would never have it any other way. She loves living with me, she loves being with me. Look at the people who do it. We are not the only ones, and we are not alone.

I went and sat down in my spot on the couch and started with, “I am sorry, Mom. I didn’t like what you were saying, so I wouldn’t hear it. That’s not right of me. I still need to hear you out, and I will work on it.” I also told her how I still feel inadequate, and that’s why I said those things, finally realizing why I did.

She told me that she is worn out and needs a break, not from me but from her life. She is overwhelmed and needs time to be and shut down. I started connecting the dots because I had felt the same way days prior.

You mean you are as exhausted as I was? So you mean you feel as stressed as I was? Do you mean you feel as emotional as I was? To all, I got an astounding “yep.”

Why can I show empathy to others so much but not my mother?

So that night, I lay there thinking, why can I show empathy to others so much but not my mother? I am guilty of not listening sometimes.

I need to tend to her equally. She is a human being, after all. So that morning, when I texted her, I didn’t just text about Jennie, her life, and what was happening in her head. I texted good morning and was surprised it was snowing, so I said that.

She texted how bad it was to get to work because of the construction cones and because it was pitch black and well across town.

I thought of empathy, so I texted, I’m sorry that must not have been an enjoyable way to start your morning. She said it wasn’t and told me she was now doing report cards. Which I knew wasn’t fun, so I said sarcastically, that it sounded like a lot of fun. With an emoji to show it was sarcastically.

It can be easy to take for granted all my mother does for.

Then I told her about that night and how it got me thinking: why can I be empathetic towards others and not her? While, if I am being honest, it can be easy to take for granted all my mother does for me, but I must never lose sight that she is human too. She deserves that same respect.

When I told her I would be working on my empathy towards her, she said, “Thank you so much.” It was simple, but I could feel the appreciation oozing out of her words.

Mothers are people too.

Mothers are people too, and now that I am growing up and starting to get stuff more and be able to handle more, our relationship is blossoming because we can work through hard things like this.

I will come to a point where I get it, and it might take some time, but I will always get there. I love my mom more than words can say. She is my fiercest warrior and always willing to come to battle when I need her. I would do anything for her, too.

Written by Jennie Logan of Jennie’s One Voice

Avatar photo

Jennie Logan

Jennie Logan has been passionate about writing and sharing her story for as long as she can remember. She has given presentations about autism to her peers in hopes of more acceptance. Her teachers in elementary school encouraged her, and now she is attending college to pursue her English Degree in writing. She wants to spread the word that being different is okay.

Share this post: