It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written; I’m sorry. After losing my job, I took some time to find a new job (thank God!!) and take advantage of my “extended vacation” to spend time with the kids and my family. My nephew’s baseball team has been kicking ass this year, and we’ve been spending a lot of time at his games, cheering him and his team on. We just got back from watching his team win 3rd in state for their class, and it’s made me do some reflecting…
The moment you find out you’re pregnant, you start to dream of what life might be like with your new beautiful bundle of joy. After you find out the sex of the baby, I think most would agree that those dreams start to take shape even more, and as your child grows it’s hard not to project those dreams onto them. Becoming a boy mom after 10 years of a house filled with all things pink and princess-y was a huge deal for my ex husband and me. We were so excited, and we both had our own ideas of the things we wanted to share with our baby boy.
For me baseball was always my #1 dream for my son. Growing up in a home with a father who worshiped the sport, baseball and softball were always a staple in our house. My sister and I played softball almost all our lives, and my dad absolutely loved the St. Louis Cardinals, so we were definitely a Cardinals family, although anytime there was a baseball game on TV- no matter what team was playing- it was on. I dreamed of the days when my dad would get to share his love and knowledge of the sport with Sawyer, and I couldn’t wait to watch him take the field for his first game of tee ball. However, after Sawyer’s autism diagnosis, the harsh reality set in that many of the dreams we had for our son may never come true. I realized I may never get to play catch with Sawyer, or see him play baseball with friends, and it made me so sad. That is one reason I cherish watching my nephew and his friends play ball as much as I do; I know I’ll never get to see Sawyer on that field.
After Sawyer’s diagnosis, I mourned the life I thought we would have had with him. It’s normal; most special needs parents go through a period of grieving after receiving a special needs diagnosis. It didn’t take us long to get through the grief, though, and accept that Sawyer’s diagnosis was not a death sentence. We realized that life with Sawyer would be much different than we imagined, but we have always loved him for the special little angel he is and his diagnosis did not change that; if anything, it deepened our love for him and renewed our fierce sense of protection for him.
We have always been big believers that we never know what Sawyer can do until we try; we have always encouraged new experiences for him. We don’t push, and we’ve been careful to make sure we always have a backup/escape plan if he can’t handle it. As I’ve touched on before, sportsmanship is something Sawyer has always struggled with, and learning all the rules of a sport can be overwhelming and frustrating for him. A few years ago, we tried soccer; I signed him up after he came home from school begging me to play, and he absolutely loved it at first, but once his team stopped practicing and started playing other teams, his love and excitement for the sport fell apart fast. I kept hoping that he’d show interest in another sport, but so far he hasn’t. He absolutely hates baseball, which has left me heartbroken; not even trips to Busch Stadium have interested him. He goes to my nephew’s games with me, but he mostly just likes going to play with other kids at the ballpark; he doesn’t enjoy watching the games themselves that much. Sawyer does enjoy shooting basketball with my nephew on his over-the-door baseball hoop, though, so my sister got him his own for his recent birthday, and he absolutely loves it. Since he likes shooting basketball so much, I signed Sawyer up for a basketball camp, and I’m curious to see how he handles learning the actual rules of the sport and playing as part of a team instead of just shooting for fun.
I know Sawyer may never be a “sports kid”, and that’s ok. The dream of watching my child belong to a sports team still burns in me, even if the flame barely flickers anymore. Sawyer loves video games, and I’ve accepted that my child may end up being a game developer instead of a star athlete, but it doesn’t mean I don’t still feel a tiny twinge of sadness for the life I thought we’d share.