The Forever Dads

dads 2

I imagine it’s different for the dads. The dads like my husband.

Last night I sat in the bleachers of a cold hockey rink watching my middle son play hockey. I glanced back behind me and took note of all the dads standing in a row.

My husband was sandwiched in-between a group of 5 or so men. A snapshot out of the suburbia playbook.

They all shared a striking resemblance. Black jackets. Black facemasks. All wearing hats.

We are in the stage of life I suppose. Our peers are all just like us. Kids, mortgages, jobs, sports.

I overheard them talking about the new youth sports restrictions. And different youth hockey programs.

Every so often one would yell out a praise or a critique to their son skating down below.

They were talking shop. Like dads so often do.

I found myself studying my husband and thinking about his differences. And how it must be different for the dads.

The moms I know talk about autism all the time. The words flow effortlessly, the emotions not held back. Most things are heavy, but we are used to it. There are a countless number of places and people, whether in-person or online, where I can talk about the secret world of autism.

I imagine it’s different for men. For the dads.

It took my husband years to be able to talk about autism openly, but I know if asked about Cooper in this moment, he would beam with pride sharing all of his joys, successes, and quirks.

Because he loves his boys. All three of them. He doesn’t love one more because he plays sports or one less because he has an IEP.

There is no difference for this man. But I imagine talking about it is. Simply, because there are less opportunities to discuss it.

The weight of having a child with special needs isn’t lighter for dads. They just carry it differently.

Let’s give a shoutout to the dads. The forever dads.

The ones who carry treasures, sit at IEP tables, crush up meds and wipe mouths, adjust underwear waistbands that have bunched up, put shoes on the right feet, and pave the way for their little people. The little people who aren’t typically discussed rink side. But matter just as much.

It’s different for the dads. Except for the love part. That part is in abundance.

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. Follow us on FacebookInstagram, and join our supporter page, Coop’s Troops, for an amazing community full of support and understanding.

Kate Swenson

Kate Swenson lives in Minnesota with her husband Jamie, and four children, Cooper, Sawyer, Harbor and Wynnie. Kate launched Finding Cooper's Voice from her couch while her now 11-year-old son Cooper was being diagnosed with autism. Back then it was a place to write. Today it is a living, thriving community of people who want to not only advocate for autism, but also make the world a better place for individuals with disabilities and their families. Her first book, Forever Boy, will be released, April 5, 2022.

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