I try to focus on the hope part of my family’s story. We have so much hope for our boys, and we really do focus on the positives. We work tirelessly with all three of them to try to get them ready for that “real world” that awaits. I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t share some of the hard stuff. Well, I know I do that…but lately I’ve been stuffing the “hard stuff” deeper and deeper within me, and I just need to hit the release valve. I think that’s one of the more difficult aspects of being a parent. Finding the balance between the hope and admitting when things are just hard.
This past Sunday at our church, our religious education leader started the second grade pledges for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Catholic Church believes that before we are to receive First Holy Communion, we must confess any sins and have the grace of God with us. So, the children pledge to work hard and prepare for the sacraments. First, they learn about and prepare for Reconciliation (Confession or Penance). Once they have celebrated that sacrament, they are ready to prepare for First Holy Communion. It’s kind of a big deal…a rite of passage for our youth. I’m not sure how second grade became the *right* time, but it is. For most kids.
We were at Mass, struggling to keep Tate in our pew. He was fairly dysregulated that day, and it was hard for him to keep quiet. He really had a need for vocal stimming. Hubz was awesome about taking Tate into the waiting space every so often so he could get his cuckoo noises out. (The newest stim sound….it beats “poop”. Let’s leave it at that.) So, as we were walking the aisle and the waiting space with our second grader, other second graders were handing their pledges to our priest and standing in front of the congregation getting blessings and prayers for encouragement. And there we were…our second grader oblivious to the process happening around him.
This year there will be no First Reconciliation. Of course, Tate is so pure of heart and soul, I really think his worst “sins” are disobeying his parents and trying to get a rise out of his brothers. There isn’t a mean bone in that kid’s body. He’s not resentful. He’s not angry. He’s not mean. His confession would be really short, that’s for sure. And it would be a lot of pressure on him to follow the process. I know he’s not quite ready…yet.
Because there will be no First Reconciliation, there will be no First Holy Communion. And you know what, I’m not afraid to say that this makes me sad. It is hard. It’s yet another milestone that my child will have to wait to hit. He will get there. I have no doubt about that…but it’s delayed. Like so much else. And sometimes, sometimes that makes me want to scream and shout. It’s not fair! So not fair!! (I feel especially this way considering that he goes to Mass regularly (with some sensory breaks) and has attended religious ed since he was 4 (and now attends his SPRED group).
This is just one example of something that is hard for me, as a mother. I don’t think Tate feels left out or finds it unfair that he’s not standing up in front of the congregation right now. That would be very difficult for him. He struggles with being the center of attention. He also doesn’t grasp the meaning of our sacraments yet. (I think he only wants to get Communion because he thinks it’s a potato chip..and well, he’ll be sorely disappointed.) But, as his mom, and as someone who understands that the celebration of Communion with our church community is essential to being Catholic, it weighs me down. And shoves me into that hard place.