Taking kids to church is hard.
Taking a sensory-sensitive kid to church is no exception. The music and echoes are just so overwhelming. Not to mention the big statues and crowd of people. We had tried the family room -- the speaker was louder than the main area! It was crowded and messy and not comfortable. So we resigned ourselves to limiting his attendance to the main holidays when we HAD to go as a family, but hubby had to go out with him almost right away. We were anxious parents. No one wants to make a scene in church. It was just a hard situation.
I confess-- it was a battle I had stopped fighting. For the sake of our family sanity, I have been just going by myself. It was just less stressful that way. I need church to fill me up for the week and a whole ordeal with an overwhelmed child was not cup-filling. I just tried to bring enough grace home each week for the whole family.
A visiting family member recently asked why I don't take him with me. "It's complicated," I said.
But I know that was a prompting. I had even recently given encouragement to another person in a similar situation about bringing their special-needs child to church. It is funny how sometimes we resist taking our own advice even if we hand it out so easily.
I used to go to church and sit with my Grandma. Some of the most tender memories I have of my grandma were from sitting next to her holding her hand in church. She'd give me a piece of candy -- Werther's -- during the sermon which I thought was so special, but realize now was so I would stay quiet, lol. At this past Sunday's mass I witnessed a young girl and her Grandma and memories came flooding back to me. The closing hymn was also her favorite hymn. Another prompting.
Last night there was an evening healing mass and I am so in awe of that and I wanted to be there. It was at a time of day where I wouldn't easily be able to do a handoff to hubby to watch my son and I felt called to try anyway.
He did so great being quiet. Since it was the "daily mass" format, there was no singing and he commented that he was okay with it because there was no singing. When the priest sang the Alleluia he said "when will he be done singing?" lol. He had an iPad and sat on my lap and kept himself as calm as he could which I know was a gift from God. He was starting to get restless after the homily and I said "this is the important part coming up: when they turn that bread and wine into Jesus" You guys! You should have seen the wonder in his eyes. He sure did pay attention. And when they rang the bells I told him, "It's becoming Jesus." He focused right in on that trying to get that wonderful mystery figured out, along with the rest of us. ❤️
He started getting wiggly; there's a lot of up and down and crowd responses during this point in the Mass. Then we started the Lord's prayer and I just watched this peace come over him as he began to recognize the familiar words and he beamed as he told me "Mama this is OUR prayer!"
We were probably disruptive with our whispering and his game music (which we negotiated to keep at level 1 so he could still hear it). He didn't sit perfectly and politely next to me and rise and fall with the motions of the crowd the way I see other 5 year-olds do in Sunday Mass. It was not perfect from the outside, but to me, it was perfect. He received the wonder and grace and joy of the presence of the Eucharist--probably to a greater extent that night than most of the parishioners who habitually do the motions. He gained confidence in his ability to handle an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation. And so did I.
Not sure if you're the same as me but I get caught thinking it has to be a certain way. That people think something about me. That if I can't do it the RIGHT WAY, then I should be ashamed, or that I shouldn't try because we don't fit.
But the truth is, Jesus is for everyone. I know this but sometimes I get tricked into not believing that to be true for my circumstances. The readings yesterday and today happen to be about children, the faith of a child. Of course they were! Because Jesus wanted us there! He wanted us to receive the gifts that He had waiting for us last night.
There is no shame in bringing children to church. It is hard, no matter what, but it is so good. It is so important. I have a renewed courage to make this a priority. It's definitely not Jesus who makes us feel shame or embarrassment or fear about our children's behavior in church-- it is the enemy. Even though I know the scriptures and know that we will receive grace, it can just feel so heavy and hard to fight that spiritual battle. But He makes a way for us if we seek it. I am so grateful that way was made for us last night and that I could tell you about it so that I may encourage others of you who can identify with this. Tuesday night mass might just be our new routine. See you there?
The listening program is going well! Already seeing some exciting results. I’m journaling the process and promise a full report later on my blog for those of you that care!
But for now I’ll just say:
1) I’m so glad we are doing this as a family 💕
2) Even just at day 1 I could feel the changes happening physically to myself and catch myself actually making eye contact with people in situations where I never have in the past. 🙌 We are seeing that with M too along with more confident conversations with neighbors and friends! I am soo enjoying what it is doing for me too. It’s so nice to know what he is experiencing too so I can support him fully as we go through it together. So much of what causes healing is love and connection and this process has been so full of that so far.
3) We have a few days left of the first protocol. Today is supposed to be our “tired day” and so far that is on point. So glad I have all my arsenal to support us. I’ve been using a lot of things from my bag of tricks to help reinforce the changes happening and help our bodies and brains do the hard work of transformation. Deep Relief this morning, chugging Ningxia, Omegagize, Sulfurzyme, and so many oils to support brain and nervous system, I’ll make a longer post about the oils but I’ll just say now that I hadn’t used more than 10 drops of this full bottle of Clarity that I got free last summer and it’s only day 3 and we are flying through it, my body is just cravvving that and it is pouring out of the bottle.
Soo glad we are doing this. ✨
PS - Since I've gotten some inquiries -- we are doing the integrated Listenjng Systems (now Unyte) Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) & Focus Home Programs with Brain Harmony.
This post contains an affiliate link to Brain Harmony, whom we chose as the home provider for the listening system. We have been loving working with Brain Harmony, and this home program is such a great fit for us. They are the largest provider of home program ILS systems in the country and I feel very secure in knowing that they have expertise in this, much more than the original provider who initially exposed us to the ILS systems.
it is a delicate dance with this boy. mustering courage to lead him where i am not confident myself, but also listening for him to lead me too; to show me what is too far, what is too much, and then taking the feedback and attempting to strike a compromise between fear and growth, not heeding too much of one or the other. in other ways he is racing ahead and i feel i am not enough to keep up with his interests and energy and high level of need. this is the daily push and pull and nuance with which our gifts beseech us. it is literally as if a new person is being birthed in me and i continue to labor - the expansion ever occurring in fits and starts over and over again.
it's a challenge to feel understood. he feel things more intensely than it seems others do, and in this rebirth, i am (re)discovering and learning to accept my sensitivities and the impact that his have on me as well, whether it is by empathetic exchange or epigenetics or just an awakening to something that has always been, it is real to me now as it is for him. regular activities need a great deal of planning, energy, and modulation. transitions are ripe with anxiety of anticipating and planning the next scene as i work to reassure him and answer for myself: do i know what to expect? have i been through this before? will the stimuli be too overwhelming? will i have a safe place? what will i do if it gets too hard? will i be accepted? will anyone understand me? why is this so hard for me? on the converse his passion and focus are unparalleled. he is an excellent communicator and he is exploring topics well above age-level.
in this journey i am being refined. i am being called to examine how outside opinions or perceptions affect my behavior and the choices i make. i am being challenged to be an advocate for myself and my family. to stand tall in my own circumstances and not look side to side. i must determine what we need and take action. make sacrifices. be courageous. no one else can do this for me. these are my lifelong weaknesses that are now in the spotlight. those are the things that my motherhood brings.
i find myself wishing for easier circumstances and envious of an alternate reality; feeling 'not enough' for this one. but that's not really the truth. of course there is no mistake in the way things are and we are given what we are given for a perfect purpose. i am blessed with this reality and just like labor, i shall ride the waves of expansion (contractions) and wait for a moment of rest before the next wave. in my "mindful birthing" training i was reminded that each moment in itself is tolerable, it is only overwhelming or scary or painful when we look too broadly. therefore, i shall follow each breath and call upon the spirit for guidance in each moment. and look back over the growth that we all are going through as the clock ticks by.
I am the mom of a Gifted 4 year old with Sensory Processing Disorder. we've known since birth that there was something special about him but it's been a journey of understanding and acceptance and navigating a challenging system where it's hard to get answers, hard to be believed, and hard to find support, and our life is unfolding with lots of grace from God as we are led just where we need to be, step by step. we don't have it all figured out and we don't need to but we are doing our best, and let that be enough.
Resources and more info:
Warning: Parenting a Gifted Child May Be Hazardous to your (Mental) Health Grayson School
It’s not just in your head: Self-care for moms of gifted children Not So Formulaic
I'm Lisa Yau, thanks for stopping by!