I Belong to a Boy With Anxiety

Today, I watched you slip away.

It happened bit by bit, piece by piece.

Slow at first. Then all at once.
The elephant in the room got you. The one that steals you from me now and again.
The one I refuse to lose you too completely.


You have it. Not me.
I am just the mother.

I am anxiety adjacent. I belong to a boy with anxiety.

I see it coming. I feel it and hear it. Other people have no idea. But I do.
At 4 am when you held your hand to my cheek, I knew.
When I saw you again at 5 am, all but one thing was erased from the family calendar.
Dozens of blankets move with you throughout the house. Providing comfort I imagine.
Hands clenched. Picking at toes. At fingernails.
Moving from room to room. Rarely stopping.
Buttons on your speech device. Over and over again. The same words yelling at me.
Nonspeaking no more.

Hundreds of times you look to me, holding up three fingers, pointing to the sky.

Needing me to reassure you.
‘Yes, grandma will get on an airplane and come home Cooper. Yes, you can stay three sleeps.’
I’ve said those two sentences so many times I could repeat them in my sleep.
Sometimes every 30 seconds. Other times you give me minutes before you ask again.
Anxiety. People outside our world have no idea.
No idea how it steals you away from me. From us. From this world.

You are still my boy. I can touch you. Kiss you. Smell you.

But you are different. You are consumed.
Most of me is thankful that you have me to be your support person. Because I know that most of the world couldn’t handle it.
Being anxiety adjacent.
The baby books never told me that I would have to protect you from an invisible beast. From yourself.
You are waiting by the window. Waiting for grandma. You don’t understand that she is gone until April. Getting you to understand feels impossible.

I belong to a boy with anxiety. And I refuse to lose him to it.

Because…he is the light that will drown out the darkness.
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.
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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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