Being Autistic and Childless on Mother’s Day

J Haley Phillips
2 min readMay 10, 2022

CW: mothers, children, childlessness, autism

Photo by Marina Shatskikh on

Mother’s Day always brings up a lot of feelings for me, but this year brought a whole lot extra to process and… honestly… I’ve barely scratched the surface.

This year I have 4 incredible “adoptive” moms and 1 wonderful “adopted” kid, so I got to experience just a smidgen of what a typical happy Mother’s Day might look like. Finally there was some happy mixed in with all the very not-so-happy stuff.

But I also started to think about how I’ve wanted kids for 15 years. I was poorly mothered for most of my life, and — perhaps as a result — have so much nurturing and mothering in me that needs somewhere to go. Yet here I am at 38, still childless. (I’ve never even been in a relationship where we tried.)

And the reasons started to sink in with fresh clarity.

I realized how enormous a role my autism has played in this.

From my past partners to my finances to my energy levels, and more, I can see how autism shapes all the itty bitty pieces that have come together to bring me to this place. And with this awareness comes a whole new grief.

Perhaps if I’d known much earlier, I could have taken steps or had support or created ways or … or … or …

I mean… just…
Perhaps I’d have been able to put myself in a position better suited for children.

I’m not saying that I blame not having kids on being autistic. (Even though a part of me wants to, I do comprehend the breadth and depth of this circumstance.)

What I’m really trying to get at is that this needs to be talked about:

Awareness needs to be more than a single month of puzzle piece posters, and we need to bust through the stigma and stereotypes.

Because if we know more about autism,
and if we can be aware of it earlier and provide support,
and if people like me can better understand ourselves
and have space to find methods and coping skills and such that work for us…

… maybe more autistic people can live the lives they truly want to live,
instead of lives they manage to patch together over the years.


Nevertheless, under the circumstances, I am D@MN proud of what I’ve patched together so far. And watch out, world, ’cause I’m far from finished.

Photo by Stux on



J Haley Phillips

I’m an editor/writer/coach with a focus on inspiring, empowering, and healing content. I love tea, travel, long hippie skirts, and diving deep into the Self.