A Conversation with Cooper’s Brother

Last night I was putting my four year old to bed after a particularity hard autism day. I’m to the point in our journey where I can openly admit when autism is hard. I can also admit when motherhood in general is hard. I have two amazing kids.

Cooper, my funny, silly, train loving boy, who has autism, is six years old. And his brother Sawyer, is my energetic, smart, curious four year old.

Together, they are the perfect storm of joy and chaos.

Yesterday, Jamie and I had reached our max. Rigidity and traveling don’t mix. I know that. But we did it. We made it. We survived another holiday weekend.

I was pretty thankful when bedtime rolled around. I was hoping for super quick and easy so I could collapse on the couch and relax.

Every single night though I make a point to sit with Sawyer alone in his room for a few minutes. It’s our time. He needs it and I need it.

We shut the door and just talk, read stories and snuggle. I often wonder during these times what it would be like to read and snuggle both of my boys at the same time.

See, Cooper’s autism prevents moments like those. He’s too wiggly. Too anxious. Too busy. He’s either moving or he’s sleeping.

So, after he’s asleep, I climb in his bed for a few minutes and get my time. I smell him. I hold him. And I whisper in his ear how much I love him. It’s the only time he’s not in motion.

Anyhow, last night was especially special. In two months Sawyer will be five years old. He’s growing up right before my eyes. He talks like a teenager and has the emotions to match. But when he is cuddled up in his jammies and holding his blanket he is still my little baby.

These are the moments I love. The moments we both need.

As we were reading his bedtime story, ‘Guess How Much I Love You,’ he stopped me suddenly to ask questions about when he was a baby.

Our conversation went like this.

Sawyer: What was my first word mama?

Me: It was mama silly. You know that.

Sawyer: (Thinking for a while) What was Cooper’s first word?

Me: Cooper doesn’t talk bud. You know that.

Sawyer: Not now mom. When he was a baby. Before he had autism. He must have talked then. What was his first word? Was it mama too? Or train? I bet it was train. Which one was it mama? What was it like before he had autism? Did he love me? He must have talked then.

Me: (Welp) Oh Sawyer, your brother loves you more than anything. He always has and always will. And nope. He has no words bud. Not even when he was a baby. You know that. Remember, he has autism.

Sawyer: (Thinking for a while) Well, he may not talk to you mama but he talks to me. Sometimes, he sneaks in my room in the middle of the night and says, ‘I love you brother.’ But he won’t say it to you or any other grownups. Just to me. You need it so badly mama and that makes him sad. He found his voice mom. He’s just scared that you aren’t listening. I hear him though. I bet if you just wait he will someday talk to you too. What do you think he will say to you mama? I bet it will be about trains. And love.

Me: Excuse me babe. Mom needs to grab something from the kitchen.

I was a sobbing mess. Those are the moments where I know I am doing something right because yes, I question it all the time. Am I spoiling Sawyer too much out of guilt? Am I doing the right therapies for Cooper? Am I doing enough? Am I enough in general?

When I think about Sawyer and his future my hopes and dreams are simple.

I want to teach him kindness. And love. And patience. I want to teach him that disabilities are not scary. I want him to fight for what is right. I want him to advocate for his brother.

But most of all I want him to be happy doing whatever it is he wants to do. And to have no animosity against his brother. I want him to accept Cooper and truly see all the joy he brings to our lives.

I want them to be brothers in every essence of the word.

And tonight was one of those nights where I was reminded that I’m raising him just the way I had hoped I would.

He said words so beautiful and insightful that I was at a loss for mine.

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.

Photo Credit: Kacie K. Photography

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Comments

  • AE

    November 26, 2017 at 9:43 pm
    Reply

    This is beautiful Kate.. Sawyer is an amazing brother and you know why? It's because you are an amazing loving mom to both your sons, […] Read MoreThis is beautiful Kate.. Sawyer is an amazing brother and you know why? It's because you are an amazing loving mom to both your sons, your love to your family is palpable. We live parallel lives you know, I put my 4 year old NT daughter to sleep every night and stay with her in bed until she drifts to sleep, it's our special time, she's so kind and often asks about her brother even during her special time :) Read Less

  • Carmen

    November 26, 2017 at 11:25 pm
    Reply

    There is so much of this piece of writing that I see in my own kiddos. Autism is confusing for siblings, and it's hard. […] Read MoreThere is so much of this piece of writing that I see in my own kiddos. Autism is confusing for siblings, and it's hard. And it's also a big teaching experience (I don't say teaching moment bc it's a series of moments) some people live their entire lives never having or do and never learn about seeking to understand or kindness. That's a sad situation. Our ASD kids will have a profound impact on their siblings that we as parents have the chance to shape. You are doing a fantastic job at this Kate. You said at one point you didn't know there was a choice in the matter. I had to laugh bc I think this too when ppl say this to me. Doesn't make it easier, but it's nice to hear someone else say it lol. Hugs!! Read Less

  • Lizzie

    November 27, 2017 at 8:29 am
    Reply

    Once again, just beautifully written and so familiar to me. These posts never fail to make my cry but often in a good way. […] Read MoreOnce again, just beautifully written and so familiar to me. These posts never fail to make my cry but often in a good way. They bring comfort knowing that others are in exactly the same place as me and that my worries are their worries too. Thank you. Keep writing x Read Less

  • Maria

    November 27, 2017 at 9:40 pm
    Reply

    This is so beautiful, thank you for sharing, you are raising an incredible caring and sensitive young man in a complicated situation, this is […] Read MoreThis is so beautiful, thank you for sharing, you are raising an incredible caring and sensitive young man in a complicated situation, this is proof that there is love all around him . Read Less

  • Diana Shirley

    November 28, 2017 at 11:31 am
    Reply

    Omgosh this brought tears to my eyes. I have been talking with one of my classmates and I told her about your page and advised […] Read MoreOmgosh this brought tears to my eyes. I have been talking with one of my classmates and I told her about your page and advised her to follow you. I think she can learn from your journey, I hope you don't mind. I just feel like you are such an inspiration and I love to share help and insight to others. Read Less

  • Pat Taylor

    November 29, 2018 at 3:07 pm
    Reply

    This one brought me to tears Kate. Sawyer, like you has such a loving kind heart.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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