I brought my middle son 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 when part of our world is missing.
I found myself looking around the skating rink for kids like my Cooper. The kids with differences. With disabilities. 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. Even though he wants to. He truly wants to be a part of this world that doesn't understand him.
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.
And I want to be clear here, crystal clear, because someone will twist my words. I don't miss a version of my son that I imagined in my head when I was pregnant. I don't miss the version of him that I thought he would be before autism was said out loud. I MISS HIM.
The him who loves trains and flaps his arms in joy and the him who is more himself than any person I have ever known. The him who cannot handle crowds or lines or bright lights or loud noises.
Cooper. He's amazing just as he is and I miss him.
He’s in fifth 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 skee 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.
The world doesn't understand that families like mine have to make choices every single day. Choices to stay home or go out into the world. And as my other three children age, the world demands more of us. So we have to go. We have to keep living. And the consequence is a part of your heart missing.
They say I shouldn’t have expectations. I am not supposed to care. But I do.
They say I shouldn’t be sad that he isn't here. Because he is happy. Or wish it was different. And that 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 my oldest son. 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.