I go to church every Sunday…
Well, ok, I’m lying. But that wasn’t always the case. Up until about four years ago I could’ve said that straight to St. Peter’s face. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with Lukas and started to ‘show’ that I stopped going. Why? I have a history of pregnancies not ending the way they’re supposed to and I became a little crazy about it. I pretty much avoided all situations where any well meaning individual might bring up my belly, babies, pregnancy, children in general… You get the point. I was pretty wacked for a while.
When my miracle baby finally came along I was beyond pure joy. I thought I would never be granted that gift, so every single day I am thrilled, humbled and utterly grateful. I am also extremely overprotective. Enter phase two of church skipping. There was no way I was about to hand my precious baby, my heart, over to the nursery volunteer of the week.
When he turned one I got a little (very little) better, so we thought we’d give ole’ church another go. Let me cut straight to the point and just give you a little play by play of that morning…
10:55 We drop Lukas off at nursery school, ask if we can stay with him for a few minutes to help adjust. But he runs off into the playroom without a care so we leave. “Wow, we could have done this months ago, he is going so well!”
11:00 singing, tithes, announcements
11:20 The flash: 402B, 402B, 402B
11:21 Hubby and I sprint into the nursery to find baby boy bawling his eyes out. He reaches for me, I try not to cry as I rock him and soothe him.
11:25. I tell hubby, ” you go back out there, I got this.”
11:30 I try to reintegrate Lukas into the playroom and sneak back into the service. He starts screaming and runs to me. I give up any hope of actually hearing the sermon.
11:30-12:30 awkward play in the nursery while the two helpers of the week talk amongst themselves and give me weird looks that say without saying, “your kid is weird. Your kid does not act like the other kids. Why doesn’t your kid want to play with them?”
We tried this a few more times over the next year, with the same result. And so ended our church going attempts. Fast forward to the present. Lukas has been in preschool for almost a year now. He is doing awesome and I think he would be able to go to the nursery now without any issues. Too bad he has aged out of the nursery. At three, he is expected to go to the Sunday School classroom with the other 3-5 year olds and have a playful, age appropriate lesson. Not gonna happen. Lukas still thinks he is the sun, the moon and all the planets. The rest of us are just stars from far distant galaxies that get to look on in wonder at his awesomeness. He travels on his own orbit, and no one is going to tell him otherwise, for now. He is definitely making progress, but still has difficulty in following along with (ahem) “Non-preferred activities.”
I miss church – a lot. Despite my propensity (and love) for a few tasty cuss words here and there, I still try to follow the ideals and principals that I strongly believe in. But this problem does not confine itself to the House of God.
There are other things I miss out on: dining out without my son running off to whatever bright thing that catches his eye, going grocery shopping with a non- military mission mentality, summer softball without my son running out onto the field after me as soon as I leave the dugout, visiting friends or attending gatherings without Lukas melting down from overstimulation and unfamiliarity.
Please, keep the invites coming! Just accept my apologies in advance if I have to leave early, or flat out decline. And most of all, try to understand that it’s not about you, it’s not about me – its about Lukas and doing what I can to make sure he learns how to deal with being in a situation that for us is fun and enjoyable, but for him is hostile and overwhelming. I will not do that by thrusting him into that situation and watching him squirm. There is no sink or swim mentality with autism.
And when it comes down to this little, incredible, beautiful and perfect being for whom I would cross oceans, climb mountains and even squish spiders, missing out on a few activities every now and again is not even a sacrifice, it’s just my new and blessedly wonderful life. I’m pretty sure Jesus is cool with this, and I hope you can be too.