Unconditional love: Love or affection without any limitations or conditions.

You hear this term frequently, often associated with motherhood. This was certainly the case for me. Little did I know how the unconditional love I have for my children would take shape over the years.

The moment I felt the first flutters and when I saw their faces, I knew in an instant they would forever have my unconditional love—as babies, toddlers, adolescents, teenagers, and adults. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that my two babies are now in their upper 30s and grown men.

A moment in December 1987 changed everything for our family. Our youngest son, Ross, had not been developing as his older brother, Clint. We looked for help, and after several evaluations, we were given the news. “Your son has autism. You should enroll him in an early childhood program as soon as possible and begin looking for an institution.” 

RELATED: Building an Autism Bridge Between Generations

We had no idea what this diagnosis meant and had never heard the word “autism.” The library and telephone were our only means of research. “Looking for an institution” was never an option, nor were we going to spend any time trying to find one.

Our unconditional love for our son kept moving us forward. Through all the appointments, therapies, medical tests, special dietsno stone was left unturned. Our goal for Ross was to be the best Ross he could be. 

I watched our family of four grow in ways I could have never imagined. Clint was not only his older brother but his protector. The unconditional love he had for his brother surfaced daily, and it didn’t bother him that Ross needed more help. 

RELATED: Leaving the Nest is Not an Option for My Daughter

Greg and I both continue to encourage and provide opportunities for Ross to learn in as many areas as possible. We have watched as our sweet son grew into the man he is today. He does not live independently as we had hoped, and he relies on us daily. Some days are longer and harder than others, but we keep going. 

We have guided Ross through the challenges he faced at every age, striving to give him the incredible experiences he deserves. We offer love and support unconditionally, wanting nothing more than his happiness. What he gives us in return is priceless.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

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Marla Brotherton

My name is Marla Brotherton.  I am married to, Greg, my husband of almost 41 years. I am a proud mom of two boys, who are now grown men. Greg and I live in the high desert of northwestern Arizona with our 37-year-old son, Ross, who has autism. While autism has been an all-consuming part of my life, I found therapy and comfort through many avenues over the years. I have been in the candy business, owning and creating fine confections for over 30 years. I enjoy flower and food photography, singing, spending time with my children and grandchildren, and writing about our journey with autism.

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