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Challenge: Raising Siblings

My son, please choose a partner who will love your brother

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My son, I want to say thank you.

Thank you for being mine. For being here. For growing up.

For being six years old and doing and acting exactly like a six year old should.

Thank you for keeping me firmly grounded in reality.

For being easy. And simple. And letting autism be in control when it needs to be.

Thank you for asking me questions. And telling me stories. For playing sports. And having playdates and birthday parties.

Thank you for giving me all the milestones and memories that a mother dreams of. But mostly, thank you for being you.

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I want to tell you a few things.

I know you won’t understand them now. And that’s OK. But someday you will understand.

I want you to know I am sorry. Mommy is so unbelievably sorry somedays.

Sorry that she isn’t enough.

Sorry that she can’t give you more. And sorry if you have ever felt second. Or less than.

I need you to know sweet boy that you are everything and more. You are enough.

And I need you to know that I am so unbelievably thankful that you are Cooper’s brother. You were picked for him Sawyer. Handpicked out of all the other children in the world.

God picked you because you are special. Because you see the world differently. Because you see the unique beauty that exists in the shadows.

Some day, you won’t see this as a burden. I promise you that.

I know autism confuses you. I know there are times when it even scares you. Embarrasses you. There have even been times when it hurts. My hardest parenting moment involved protecting you. And choosing.

You don’t understand why it has to be so hard all of the time. You look to me for answers. To explain the whys and the hows.

Somedays I have amazing answers and explanations. But other days, on hard days, my answer is simply ‘autism,’ And you have learned at six years old to accept that answer.

Somedays I wonder if you will need to recover from all of this. If you will leave at age 18 and never look back. Or spend long hours on a therapist’s couch talking about your childhood. I pray not.

You need to know that mom and dad are doing everything we can to give you a normal life. We would never expect a thank you. I just pray someday, when you have babies, you look back and think about your childhood with love. And know just how hard we worked to keep your life normal. And constant.

Thank you Sawyer.

Thank you for being so kind. You are wise far beyond your years too. You are the big brother in every way. The responsible one.

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Some days I wonder if you are actually a teenager. And I secretly wonder if you would have grown up so fast without autism.

There are moments when I will look at you and wonder if you will take care of your older brother after I am gone.

Will you love him like I do? Will you shave his face? Will you dress him? Will you change his diaper if needed? Will he live with you? Will you protect him when my life’s work is done? Will I pass the torch?

How can I ask you that Sawyer?

I want you to go to college. Get married. Have babies. But part of me has this favor to ask of you. I need you to love your brother after I am gone. I need you to treasure him and keep him safe.

I need you to think about him. But it's about more than just you buddy.

When you choose a partner, will you pick one who will love your brother? Please. One that won’t think of him as a burden. But a blessing. Choose someone kind and patient. Who will overlook the hard and treasure the precious parts.

Because he is our treasure Sawyer. Our most vulnerable treasure.

The pressure of that is unbelievable. I have been carrying the weight of it for 8 years. And I gladly will until the day I die. But will you feel the same way?

It’s a real conversation that you and mommy and daddy will have to have. Someday we will have to talk about it. But not today. Not yet.

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Sawyer, when I think of your future, I want you to be happy doing whatever it is you want to do. I want you to fight for what is right. I want you to be fearless in the face of adversity.

I want you to love your brother. And to have no animosity against him. You need to know Sawyer the he didn’t choose to be different. And he isn’t making your life harder on purpose. It just is what it is. And that’s a whole other lesson in itself.

I want you to accept Cooper and truly see all the joy he brings to our lives. I want you to be brothers in every essence of the word honey. You two were made for each other.

Now that you are 6 and he is 8, I see it starting. Do you know that he asks for you all the time now.

He says ‘SSS-AA-ER’ and points to the door. He waits for you buddy. Like the little brother waiting for his big brother to get home. He is becoming your biggest fan.

Thank you for loving him Sawyer. And I want you to know I love you so very much.

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