The Mistakes I’ve Made

I’m going to tell you a not-so-secret secret. I have made some mistakes over the years in my parenting journey.

Shocker, right? Not really I suppose. There are no perfect parents, and this stuff is hard.

I have three boys. They are 10, 8, and 2. I also am 28 weeks pregnant with a baby girl. Life is about to get a whole lot crazier.

My ten-year-old has autism and on paper is nonverbal. My 8-year-old is my emotional guy. And the toddler, don’t even get me started on him. The word feral comes to mind.

They are amazing though. Like, the best kids you will ever meet.

One would think I should clock in at level expert in parenting. But I don’t. Daily I am trying to navigate how to keep these little people moving forward and keep them kind and happy and good.

I like to tell myself that the mistakes I’ve made are because I didn’t know better at the time. There is a saying, ‘when we know better, we do better.’ I live by that when I think back about my mistakes.

It goes hand in hand with grace. I’m learning to grant myself grace. You should too.

If I could go back, I would change a few things about the choices I’ve made.

Like never introducing YouTube. Or Fortnite. Gosh I hate that game.

There are bigger things though. Choices that I wish I would have made differently.

Ones that I carry guilt for. And I share them with you, because maybe, just maybe, it will impact your choices positively.

Here goes. Truth time.

I wish I would have never talked about what causes autism in front of my autistic son.

Now to be clear, Cooper was born with autism. From the very first second I peered in his eyes, as I held him in my exhausted arms, autism was woven through him. I have no doubt now. There was no separating it out.

He was also born exactly who he was supposed to be. Like his blonde hair, and mole in between his two toes. There isn’t an autistic version of Cooper and a not-autistic version of Cooper. He is himself, no more and no less.

And one more thing, I don’t know why he has autism no more than I know why the sky is blue or the grass is green.

It just is friends. And as he’s gotten older, and we’ve settled into this different life, I’ve started caring even less about the whys. For me now, it’s about how do I be the best mom that I can be, to a complicated boy.

 A while back, over coffee, a friend asked me why Cooper has autism. I get asked this all the time. People genuinely want to know. I get it.

I was in a safe space and I answered how I typically do. Cooper was born this way. But then we went onto discuss all the things we’ve heard and read over the years. A quick Google search will turn up even more.

Maybe it’s pesticides. Maybe it’s the water. A vitamin D deficiency. Vaccines. Living too close to above ground electrical wires. Genetics.

As we were going through the scenarios from my kitchen table, I happened to look into our living room and made eye contact with a very engaged Cooper.

He was listening to everything we were saying.

I immediately and abruptly stopped the conversation. I politely said, ‘we are done talking about this.’

And the little boy, with very few words and porcelain skin, seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, and smiled at me, as if saying thank you, before he looked back down at his ipad.

I was immediately flooded with guilt.

I had messed up. Hugely. I had assumed so foolishly that he didn’t pay attention to adult conversations. And I was wrong.

But it was so much more than that.

How awful it must have felt to listen to people talk about why he was born the way he was. As if debating if he could be better. Or different. Or as if God had made a mistake.

No one should have to hear that. I had messed up and that night when I tucked him into bed, I apologized and vowed to do better.

My son will never feel less than by my doing ever again.

And as I smooched his ruddy cheeks and tickled his tummy, I whispered in his ear that I was thankful that he was born exactly who he is today.

A wonderful, smart, funny, talented, the sky-is-the-limit, loved and treasured little boy. And who was perfectly woven together.

I vow to do better because I know better.  

Written by, Kate Swenson, Cooper’s Mom

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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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