Monday, May 11, 2020

Microstory 1361: My Mother

Nick Fisherman: I see the tables have turned.
Tavis Highfill: I don’t own a table anymore. We got rid of it, because it was taking up too much space, and I just use TV trays.
Nick: You know what I mean. I’m the one interviewing you today.
Tavis: That’s right.
Nick: Was this planned from the very beginning?
Tavis: It was not. The other day, my sister suggested I write a piece about our mother for Mother’s Day. She arranged her own piece of music for her, and this will be my gift. And bonus, that’s one less “suitability interview” that I have to come up with.
Nick: Oh, that’s a nice idea. So, how about it? What can you tell me about your mother—our mother—uhh...
Tavis: I was diagnosed with autism when I was twenty-seven years old. But, of course, I was autistic my whole life; it just wasn’t something that we knew. My family had to make a lot of accommodations for me, because of how I was. I didn’t like certain foods, loud sounds bothered me, and my biggest problem was that I didn’t understand people. I don’t see the world the same way others do, and I just didn’t get why. None of us did. Had I received my diagnosis early on, I think it would have been easier for them. Even in the 1990s, they would have had resources. They would have been able to speak with mental health professionals, and had me speak with them. When I acted out, they would know why, and would be able to deal with it accordingly. But that isn’t what happened. My family had to develop ways to communicate with me on their own, with no help. My mother was particularly patient and compassionate, and I can never thank her enough for it. I’ve always had a very relaxed relationship with her. I can talk to her about anything, knowing that she’ll give me the best advice—not for just anyone—but for me specifically, because I require some very specific advice. Our relationship has only grown stronger with time.
Nick: Oh, interesting. Full disclosure, though; I’m only jumping in, because this seems like a logical place for a paragraph break.
Tavis: Yes. So, when my sister conceived this project, she said I could write a piece about mothers in general. But when I tried, I realized it probably wasn’t possible. There is just no comparing my mother to others. She’s special, and I know a lot of people say that, but she is. When I was very young, I heard something on TV about gay people, and at that point, that was a word I was not familiar with. I asked my mother what it meant, and she told me that some boys feel more comfortable with other boys, so they date each other, instead of girls. She said that the same is possible for girls. She never so much as hinted that it was wrong, or that I should treat such people differently. Diversity was celebrated in my family, and I don’t know how my parents did it. I don’t know how they freed themselves from the prejudices of their hometowns, in the time that they were living in them. However they did it, I grew up without those prejudices. I wasn’t raised to feel that I shouldn’t talk to the black children in my class. I wasn’t made to feel that there were certain expectations of me because of how I was born. They signed me up for tap dancing and gymnastics, and let me quit baseball when I wanted to. They never had to teach me to treat women with respect, because at no point did I make a mistake. They never needed to sit me down, and explain why women were equal. I didn’t realize until I was much older that women aren’t actually treated as equals in this world, because my parents created a world where that wasn’t true, and simply let me be in it. I hear about people trying to figure out how to teach their kids how to behave, but the best way to do that is by example. Raise them in a loving family, like I was, and it will just come naturally to them. That is what a mother does.
Nick: That’s lovely. Thank you for this, self. And to our readers, you can watch a special edition of my sister’s video series I-Miss-You Music Mondays right here.

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