I Have to Grow Up Mama

Last night my seven year old had a hockey play date at the neighbor’s house.

He hit pucks and went wild and skated while the snow fell down.

I know because I saw a Snapchat that his father sent me.

I was home with Cooper and the baby playing puzzles and cars and arguing about snacks and the volume of an iPad.

As 9 pm approached, I started the bedtime process with two of my boys.

Cooper immediately pointed to the front door and said, ‘SSSSAAAAWWWWEEEERRR.’

I told him little brother was playing hockey but would be home soon. He didn’t like that answer but reluctantly made his way up to their shared bedroom.

He asked me a dozen more times for his brother and even tapped Sawyer’s pillow repeatedly. He asked me to keep the light on by pointing to the switch.

Cooper loves sharing a room with his brother. And while he rarely acknowledges his younger brother throughout the day, he needs him at night.

When Sawyer got home later, he ran in the house, told me he was starving, grabbed a bag of Doritos, and climbed his sweaty, tiny bit stinky, cute body onto my lap in the recliner.

He told me about skating. He told me about playing goalie. He asked if we could buy a fish soon. And then he asked about Cooper.

I told him he was sleeping but he really missed him tonight. I told him how his brother may not show it but he needs him so much. And how it’s hard on him when he’s gone.

Sawyer was silent for a bit and then said, ‘Mama, it’s like he’s not growing up. His pants get bigger but he doesn’t. I was wondering if soon I’ll be older than him. When I’m 16 will he still be little? Like will I be older than him?’

I held him really tight and explained all the parts of Cooper’s autism that I have words for. I did the best I could. But sometimes the questions make me sad and take my breath away and I just pray I say the right things.

‘Mama, as I get older, I’m going to be gone more. Someday I’ll drive. And have a dirt bike. And I’ll be in college. Does brother know that? Does he know I can’t stay home forever with him? We can’t share a room forever mom.’

Before I could answer he said, ‘I have to grow up mama. Does brother understand that? Because I don’t think he does.’

I don’t have all the answers. And even as I typed these words out this morning I let the tears fall as I thought about one boy going to college and another one pointing to the door.

My only advice…talk about the hard parts. The beautiful parts. The sad and the confusing parts. And the uncomfortable parts.

The parts that take your breath away.

Talk about them with your children and spouse and friends. With anyone who will listen and lend an ear. It helps. Trust me.

It’s the times I stayed silent that those parts hurt the most.

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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 our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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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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