To My Sweet Boy

cooper 13

My sweet boy,

It’s your old mom here. I have something I want to tell you. Something I want you to know.
Years ago, during our hardest days, I made a promise to you Cooper. You didn’t know it. I made it late at night. One of those desperate internal conversations that happen at 3 AM in a scared mother’s mind.
We were two years into your nonverbal autism diagnosis although I was nowhere near an expert.
We had just said goodbye to kindergarten. It wasn’t working and you needed more. You deserved more. I was scared kid. I didn’t know if I was making the right decision or a crazy one…or both.
But I did it anyways. I trusted my gut. And we took that first bit huge step off the path of ‘typical’ and started our own new path, together.
I was going to figure this all out. I knew I’d fail at times. But I had to take the chance. Because the future was looking a little worrisome.
So, I made it really simple. I turned my focus to your happiness. Every decision I made, every time I fought for you, every time I advocated, I said to myself…
Is my son’s happiness at the center of this decision?
I was going to figure out what you needed in your life to be happy. Because, see, it wasn’t simple. Happiness for you was complicated. Even confusing at times.
You wanted to be alone. You wanted chairs lined up and curtains closed and everything in the bathtub. You wanted the darkness and quiet and loud and bright colors. You wanted beds stripped and tickles and probably a whole other lotta things that I knew nothing of. Because you couldn’t tell me.
I would study you kid. I would get down on your level and pray to God that you would give me a glimpse inside your secret world. Even if I couldn’t stay, I just needed something. I needed you. I needed to know more. I needed to open the door and sneak a peek around the corner. That’s all. Even if I couldn’t stay.
When it hit me, I may have to do this all blind, I made a promise to you kid. I promised I would wait. I would wait forever. I would wait next to you, near you, behind you, wherever you needed me to be.
And I prayed, that one day, you’d look up, smile and wave me inside that world of yours. Saying, ‘Hi mom. You never gave up on me. You were always here.’
I’ll wait kid. Don’t ever doubt that. And if you get lonely, please know that mama is right here. Waiting.
Love you buddy.
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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