The Big Things

Swenson kids 23
You think the big things are the most important. The ones that will make the most impact.

I used too.

Speaking. Joining a group or team. Driving a car. Graduating. First job, first love, first house.

Those are the milestones we work towards. Right?

And yes, of course they are important. But as I grow into being the best mom for my autistic son, and watch him grow into himself, I realize it’s the little things that make the biggest difference in our world.
That make the most impact on our everyday life and sanity.

A smile. Waving at a stranger. A clap after a job well done. Waiting in line. Walking safely in a parking lot. Going into a store.
A hug. A high five. Greeting someone when they walk into the room.
Seeing a video of an elephant, laughing uncontrollably, and showing mama and demanding that she be an elephant too.

Running to dad, gasping, and giving him the biggest hug when he gets home from work.
Grabbing a brother’s hand and having him lead around the bases in Miracle League.

Understanding it’s dad’s birthday, going to a store, picking out a cake, 2 balloons and a card, waiting in the checkout line patiently while mom pays and walking safely to the car. Something we’ve never done before.

Understanding when mom says, put your shoes on, grab your blanket, and wait by the door. And doing it. Listening.
Waiting. Having the motor skills to put shoes on.

Saying ‘uh-oh’ when mom spills her coffee and then giggling. Touching his baby sister’s feather hair, smelling it and eventually giving it a huge, blowout, slobbery kiss.
Opening and closing a car door. Reminding mom when she puts the car in reverse that she forgot your seatbelt. Then laughing.

Using a fork to eat lasagna. Getting dressed. Drinking from a cup.

When your child is first diagnosed, you think it won’t be ok until they talk. And play. And understand. And be like every other child their age.

So, you wait. You set your sights and heart on the big goals. But you feel like you are always waiting. For the huge things. Because then it will be ok.

Listen to me when I say…work towards the little things. Because they will change your life.
The smiles. The hugs. The eye contact. Putting shoes on. Grabbing a snack. Loving siblings. Going to a store and buying a balloon.

Work on those things. The rest will fall into place.

Like smiling for a photo. These are the big things.
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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