You think you know me well, but I don’t think you do.

I am the other mother.

The one whose child doesn’t run to hug her when she gets back home.

The one who gets tutted, looked at with mistrust, or told plainly that she may have spoilt her child, causing her to behave the way she does.

The one who, sometimes, leaves for work with a heavy heart after a weekend of love and everyday struggles.

The one whose wonderful, beautiful, amazing, happy child, gets very few invites to birthday parties – because my child doesn’t understand the concept of a party, doesn’t like noise or crowds, can’t do imaginary play and doesn’t know how to start a friendship.

I am the mother whose world is different to yours, but still the same. But you couldn’t accept those differences, adapt yourself to them, so where they used to be the beginning of a friendship there is now cold distance. You never call me. You never write to me. So I have learnt to find those friends somewhere else, and to appreciate what I have more than ache for what I miss.

And so five days a week I wake up, get ready, eat breakfast with my daughter, commute to work. I put my brain into working mode and try not to think about the future, the past, the challenges, the what could have beens. I pack my bag knowing full well that the two most special people in the world are waiting for me at home, but not knowing what I will find on my return. Autism is like a prism of many faces.

I am your friend, colleague, client. I am the long shadow within and the joy of everything she has achieved in her journey so far. I am the other mother, and I am closer to you than you think.