If you talk with a parent of a special needs child they will talk about their journey. And the diagnosis. For some people they are shocked when the diagnosis comes. For others, it happens more slowly. It evolves I guess.
Whichever path you are on there will ALWAYS be parts that hurt. Look at me. I am doing better every day. I really am. But I still have very lows moments and days. Moments where I cry in private. Moments where I watch Cooper closer than I’ve ever watched Sawyer. Analyzing every movement. Listening to every sound. And hating autism. Hating this invisible monster that stole moments from me. I don’t suspect that will ever go away.
But with that comes growth. And acceptance.
There are certain things I have accepted that I would never get with Cooper. I don’t know if he will ever say mom. Or tell me about his day. Or be excited to show me something he made. Or go to a best friends house. I don’t believe he will ever have a girlfriend. Or get married. Or have kids.
And most days I can forget about these future milestones. I shove those suckers way down deep inside. We are just like any other mother son duo. We laugh and play and snuggle. Mostly, I don’t even notice that there are no words.
But there are certain things, even after 4 years, that really, really hurt me. Seeing the relationships that NT children have with friends and family are hard for me. Seeing the bonds. God that shit hurts. It’s not that Cooper isn’t loved it’s that he often doesn’t seek out the attention like other children do. He is not demanding.
Hearing kids say funny things. Or act silly. Play dress up. Whatever it may be. It’s hard.
Seeing kids get excited over parties and gifts and events kills me.
Seeing kids join in and play breaks my heart in two. Let me rephrase that, my already broken heart stays broken when kids gather around to hear a story or play a game.
I will take the boys to the park and the second we get there Sawyer darts off to make friends. He is drawn to children. And Cooper plays by himself.
Two worlds. Two very different little boys.
Seeing kids play sports. Teams of children. God that hurts. T-ball, soccer, dance, whatever…you name it. It’s like a knife.
School pictures hurt. I never thought I would get a school picture of Cooper. I even avoid looking at them.
A month or so ago I saw a class picture of my niece. And I teared up and quickly hid my feelings. I assumed I would never get a picture of Cooper from school. Or not at least one that looked ok.
And then there was this.
And I can’t even put into words what this picture means to me.
I wonder if the teachers at his school know what this picture means to a mom like me. I know they were patient with him. And I know that this isn’t the first one taken. Or probably even the tenth. And I can guarantee that if you turned the camera around there are teachers and aids behind the photographer laughing and being silly trying to engage Cooper.
I could hug them. I actually love them. They cared. And that means so much to me.
I needed this so badly. This silly picture. I need us to feel normal sometimes. As strong as I act I just need it.
And dare I say that this picture gives me hope. I sometimes forget that we are indeed moving forward. Our pace is slow, and staggered, and full of emotion…but we are moving forward.