By Hilliary Holyoak

You know me—I’m that mom. The one you look at, wondering why she’s not doing A, B or C about her child’s behavior—silent judgment on your face. The mom who stands tall and fights back tears when you look at her disapprovingly. Or worse—when you look at her like you feel sorry for her, because her pride simply can’t swallow your pity on top of it all.


I’m the mom whose child is climbing the window washer’s scaffolding, or has picked all the leather off his brand new school shoes, or obsessively pinching his own hands with the clothes pin she reluctantly allows him to carry because it keeps his hands busy (and off your kid). The mom whose heart sinks every time the school’s number flashes across her phone. The mom whose boy is brilliant, sweet, thoughtful—to the point that he tries to understand the entire world all at once, and the hugeness of it all periodically crushes him.

I’m the mom whose child doesn’t want her to come to the school Art Walk because his butterfly sticks out from the other third-graders’ butterflies, like a kindergarten piece mistakenly displayed in the wrong class. The mom who tells her son that his butterfly is beautiful and she loves the colors he chose and it’s so special just the way he made it—only to have him look at her in tears saying, “I don’t want my butterfly to be special, Mom. I just want my butterfly to be like everyone else’s butterfly.”

I’m the mom who hates herself for the embarrassment that rears its ugly head when her child’s impulsiveness causes people to take notice, because she knows in her heart he can’t help it and wants so badly to be like other kids. The mom who isn’t sure what’s worse: feeling embarrassed—or feeling guilty about being embarrassed.

I’m the mom who holds my little boy at night, listening to him explain things she doesn’t even come close to comprehending, nervously visualizing the long road ahead, worried the world may one day eat him alive.

I know you know me because I used to be you. I was the other mom looking at that mom, wondering what she must have done (or should do), because her child doesn’t fit the mold of the “normal” kid. I was the mom with no idea how much of herself that mom put into weekly therapies, behavioral counseling, social group therapy, school conferences, learning plans. The list is so very long.

I’ve been given the gift of humility as I now move through the pages of life as that mom, humbled remembering what it was like to be you. Other moms, please know we’re acutely aware of the challenges we face, we really are doing the best we know how, and at the end of the day—when we’re holding our kids just like you—we don’t wish them to be any different. Because they’re exactly who they should be.

And that’s good enough for us.



Hilliary Holyoak is a single mother of three, spanning ages preschool to high school. Living in the spectacularly beautiful corner of America known as the Pacific Northwest, Hilliary is an avid environmentalist, animal rights activist and community event supporter. She also happens to be known as mom to an incredible nine-year-old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. Hilliary discovers pieces of herself in the moments she spends learning about life, both within and outside of motherhood – and these moments often manage to transcend into words on paper. You can connect with her via her Facebook page ( or email (

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