The three boys alternate between walking and running all the way home. They barely stop at the street to make sure it is clear before bolting across – talking excitedly all the way to our house about what they will play with first and the funny things that happened at school. At the house there is a brief disagreement about whether they will play inside or out. The vote is 2 to 1 for inside. The guests want to play inside, the host knows he has lost on 2 counts (the sheer numbers and the manner rule that dictates guest gets first choice of activity). He is disappointed but no voices are raised coming to the decision, no feelings hurt. It takes all of 30 seconds and then they are agreed and all head inside.

Once inside they all throw off their shoes and backpacks, practically falling onto the toys before they even have their things off. I place snacks on the table and alert them they are there and then leave the room. I listen from my computer desk upstairs – the negotiations, the pretend battles and the plans for bigger and better adventures. No one calls for me. No one fights or gets physical. No one needs assistance in anyway.

I am not used to being this mom. I love it (I think), I have longed for it but it feels foreign. For my entire time of being a mom I have been actively on duty during every moment. I don’t know how to be the mom who dissapears and only comes back once in a while to check in. I WANT to be that mom – I don’t want to be a helicopter parent. I have just had to be. So this, this is very unfamiliar yet I hope it becomes more common.

While I sit at my desk and the boys play I am painfully aware that 2 of the three older siblings of these boys are down the street at the school, playing soccer. For the past two years that was my son as well. This year things are much different. My oldest is, at least for now, attending a Day Treatment school. There will be no soccer team for him this year. That hurts but I am also thankful that we are in a better place than we were several months ago. That we are on our way back, maybe to future soccer teams. There is also my awareness that if my oldest were home at the end of the school day on this particular day, these friends never would have been able to come over and my youngest never would have had this experience. That’s hard to swallow. We wanted to believe for so long that we were doing a great job at managing C’s needs and yet still fulfilling the needs of J. But how could we have been when C’s daily rages meant not only was J expected to keep himself busy but no way could having people over ever have worked out? 6 year old boys should be able to have friends over.

So it is bittersweet that my youngest gets to experience “typical” 6 year old boy activities and I mourn a little for the “typical” experiences that C worked so hard to achieve and then, at least momentarily, lost. I grieve for all those experiences that C (and I) never got to have. I love where my boys are at right now, the stages and the experiences. I am so grateful for so much. But today is bittersweet.

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