How Am I Supposed to Not Miss Him?


I brought my son Sawyer to skate night last night. A school event at a local roller skating rink. There was pizza and music and arcade games.

Kindergarten through fifth grade. Families. Siblings. So many kids.

I laced up his roller blades and watched him be a little boy. Skating way too fast. Being silly. Telling stories. Playfully pushing friends. Dancing. Doing the limbo.

He has a social life. Friends. He’s growing up.

As I sat there watching, holding my baby tight, I was suddenly overwhelmed by all the feelings I’m not supposed to feel. The ones that we as special needs parents get shamed for feeling.

Sadness. Anger. Frustration. Longing.

So, as moms and dads, we typically hide them. We choke on the words. We try to blend in. We fake smiles.

I found myself looking around for kids like my Cooper. Families like ours. Only I couldn’t find any. Not tonight anyways.

Autism. Anxiety. Sensory processing disorder. The words that prevent my sweet boy from coming to stuff like this. Anything outside of our home really.

The words that split us up as a family.

My feelings were strong tonight. I felt like a fish out of water. Like an outsider. Almost wondering if I’m more comfortable in the special needs world instead of the typical one.

Maybe it was all the boys running around and telling stories like little boys do.

I miss my other son.

He should be here.

He’s in 7th grade. He should be playing and having fun. I should be taking a photo of my two big boys. Brothers.

He should be here skating. And playing ski ball. And trying to get hundreds of tickets.

He should be with friends right now. This very moment.

Both of my big boys should be here.

They say I shouldn’t have expectations. I am not supposed to care.

They say I shouldn’t be sad. Or wish it was different.

I’m supposed to embrace all of this. Be happy. Thankful. Accepting.

And 99.99% of the time I am. Because my son is amazing. Absolutely amazing.

But as I sit here, holding my baby, watching my middle son turn in his tickets for trinkets, with boys his age, I miss him. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

I’m not supposed to say it. But I will. Because I miss my boy. It shouldn’t be like this. It should be different. We should be here as a family.

I think I’m allowed to say that. And if I’m not, I guess someone will remind me.

Maybe the super parents that are far better than me can tell me how to get over missing him. Because I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

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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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