Sundays have been such a challenge for us in the last few months. For a variety of reason, I have ended most Sundays in tears for one reason or another.
To begin with; Caleb has been really struggling with being at church. Something was setting our sensory boy off about church and he would spend 99% of our time there having a complete sensory meltdown in the halls- which often included lots of screaming, hitting, and flailing in my arms. Basically every Sunday Caleb and I both cried in the halls of church. Him because he was feeling overwhelmed by something he couldn’t communicate to me and me because I was feeling like a bad Mom because I couldn’t figure it out and because I felt alone there in that place trying to help our son. I felt like Sundays involved Caleb and I battling something I couldn’t see or feel so I didn’t know how to help him. We have involved all of Caleb’s therapist in trying to solve this puzzle. Caleb’s behavior was stumping us all and one of his therapist even came to church with me and the kids to try and figure it out.
Added to that dynamic is that I am still not a pro at going places with all five kids by myself. When people typically have kids they do it one at a time with at least a nine month period in between to help them adjust to each new addition- we went from zero to five in less than two years. No adjustment time and with the exception of Caleb and Baby Otter the kids came in multiples. We are coming up on a year of being a family with five children all four and under and I am really just starting to get my footing. So taking the kids to church by myself (because my husband does not attend) is very stressful for me. I would see other large families who had their children all sitting calmly, or at least calmer than one screaming in the halls and four other kids that still need some help, and I would feel like I must be doing something wrong. It seemed like it was just too hard.
The final stress of our Sundays lately has been the insane number of things that has happened to our family in the last few months- multiple surgeries, injuries and kids who were sick for about two and half months straight. So we missed far more Sundays than I am ok with- so while I was trying to hold it all together in the middle of that storm if we missed church that week there were tears then too because I felt I was failing my kids.
It has been a crazy adventure lately. However, this last week was amazing. In speaking with Caleb’s therapists we decided that Caleb just cannot handle a three hour time at church right now. Not until he can communicate better and we can figure out what is setting him off or at least what helps make it better. We even figured out a way to make that work. Tyler will come with the kids and I to the first hour of church, the Sacrament meeting, and then he will take Caleb home while the other kids and I stay at church. Yay for a solution!
Unfortunately, Tyler had a medical procedure done Friday and was not up for coming this week. I decided to take the kids and leave after the first hour, when a dear friend volunteered to drive the big boys home allowing them to stay for Primary. I woke up with a different mind set than I had in the weeks prior. I was not filled with a sense of dread, instead I was confident that it would all go well. I knew that my kids would still not all sit calmly in a pew and I also knew that Caleb might have some moments he struggled but I was sure we could navigate it. The kids and I went to the Relief Society room so that the youngest three (2, 2 in 6 days, and 10 months) could move around a little more and not fuss because they felt stuck. Caleb does better there than he ever does in the chapel. Everything went great! I mean the younger kids were running around like little terrors but they were not crying and the big boys sat fairly quietly. I realized the key to a calmer Sunday is for me to keep things easier for Caleb by letting him leave after an hour and to realize a successful day at church for us will look different in reality right now than it did in my head. Managing realistic expectations and realizing success to us will look different than success to other families is the secret. I am so proud of all five of my little miracles.
For more information about sensory processing disorders visit The Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support website.