I am feeling sad sometimes these days and experiencing a heavy heart. Michael refuses to come to church with me. I saw it coming last year; all his questions, his boredom, everything being over his head. It is also so abstract, God, an entity in the universe he can’t feel or touch. Lots of neuro typical adults and kids have trouble with the concept. Yet still, going to church was something we did as a family. It got difficult for Dad to come, then it was Michael, now I go alone. I stayed away all summer knowing the summer was hard for him, and hoping, like last year, I could bring him back with me. No luck this year.
I finally realized I would have to go myself. And what’s so bad about that? It’s great in a way. I can fully be present at mass and worship. I am experiencing church in a more relaxed way. But I miss him. I miss his interruptions and questions and us going as a family. I have experienced going to different masses hoping that changing masses and seeing different faces would be less painful for me, but no luck. Instead I just missed the wonderful people at the children’s mass that I know and love. And, I realized I deserved to have my Sunday worship space back. Also, I am a stubborn woman. I do still hope that Michael will change his mind and come back to church with me. But I have let go of worrying. It wasn’t serving either of us.
Why am I taking this so hard? Well, you see, I wanted to give Michael the same upbringing, more or less, that I had had. I wanted to expose him to the same ideas and have him decide when he was older what he accepted or rejected. I also wanted him to know he has a home in our church, and that there are people outside of our special needs community that understand and respect him. Was I making my child a poster child? I don’t think so. In my own way, I wanted to normalize autism and disabilities and show Michael that who he is is something to be celebrated. He didn’t want this anymore though, and I have to accept t and respect his decision. I also viewed his moving away from church as a lost milestone of functioning in the non adapted world. Did he lose the skill? He has talked a lot about his social fears lately. Then I realized no. You and he did not fail. This is a skill he must learn in his own time. We’ve gone from him getting upset when I pray or talk about God, to understanding that it is my right to pray as it is his not to, for now. I am doing the best I can for my son. And, my son is an amazing little boy doing his best too. We must each do our best, follow or own path, and the Universe and God will show us each the way.
Exceptional Parents, where have you felt you failed your child? How have you beaten yourself up for simply doing the best and sometimes things not working out? Have you felt a milestone of progress has been lost? First of all, you did not fail. It’s ok. You’re human. They’re human. You are doing the best you can as a parent. You cannot blame yourself for everything that does not work out. You are not a therapist, and you do not need to solve every problem your child has. All you have to do is go with their flow, love them for who they are, and take care of loving and respecting who you are and what you need. Until next time.
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