Finding comfort through voices of experience

My daughter is sensitive.  I’ve mentioned this before.  She may not look like me, but she definitely has inherited things from me and sensitivity is one of them.  She also isn’t a big fan of change.  A year ago, she moved from the nursery to the toddler room at church.  She had quite a time adjusting.  We had almost two months of leaving her in the room with her in tears.  Then she settled in and realized that it was a fun room.

My little girl happily ready to go to church this past Sunday. Things took a turn shortly after this photo was taken.

This past Sunday, we all had flashbacks to those days.  It’d been about a month since we’d been able to be at church due to traveling and me being sick with a wretched cough for about a month.  When she got up on Sunday morning, I slowly started talking to her about church.  She was fine.  She was excited almost.  She continued to be happy as a clam as we loaded in the car.  She chatted the whole way to church.  She talked about being in the toddler room.  She chatted all down the hall to the toddler room.  Then we got to the door and she froze.  I knew things were taking a turn south.

First I tried to coax in her by walking her all the way into the room holding her hand.  I picked up a book (she loves books) and opened it up to look through with her.  I pointed out that the rabbit song my dad always sings to her was playing on the CD player.  Another little boy came over and looked at the book with us.  I thought she was settled, so I stood up.  I had barely headed for the door myself when she bolted, ran to my husband, threw her arms around his legs and dissolved in tears.  He knelt down and talked with her about being in the toddler room, how it would be fun, how we’d be nearby in the mommy and daddy room and how we’d come back in just a little bit.  She got in the door and began crying out for my husband.  The dear toddler room worker gave us a reassuring smile as the door closed.

It was heart-wrenching.  I turned around to face my husband with my own tears.  A seasoned mother and grandmother was coming down the hall.  “It will get better,” she said with a sweet smile.  “She’ll adjust.”  I just nodded.  There was no speaking around the lump in my throat.  We hung out outside the door for a bit.  Her crying stopped after a couple of minutes.  We debated whether to just go get her and leave.  It’s so hard.  We decided it would be better for her if she could just settle in.  We headed to the sanctuary.

I went back to check on her shortly thereafter and arrived right as shift change from the Sunday School workers to the worship service workers.  I talked to them about what was going on.  They went into the room.  I heard the meltdown start afresh.  A couple of minutes later after the crying lessened, the service worker, Tim, popped his head out and said he was happy to give her some time to settle in.  I agreed telling him where we were sitting and to come get me if she kept crying.

The first part of service, I kept tearing up thinking of my little one.  I felt better with some reassurance from the Sunday School nursery worker that my kiddo had settled in.  I thought about the older mom in the hallway.  I realized sometimes I need that perspective.  I need to hear from moms who have been-there-done-that and can tell me whatever we’re dealing with really is a phase and will get better. While unsolicited advice can be a bit much from experienced moms sometimes, many other times hearing reassurance is helpful and comforting.

I then thought of my own mom who dealt with this very thing with me.  I would sob when she left me at church (so many times she just took me into the sanctuary) and I sobbed through the first few weeks of preschool right after she would leave.  Until having my own child, I never thought of these things as being hard on my mom.  Now I know how gut-wrenching and heart-breaking they are as a mother.  I also realized that even though I now have a great relationship with my mom and miss her when we’re away from each other for too long, I never cry when she leaves me somewhere.  Heck, she never leaves me anywhere any more.  I moved off on my own years ago when I went to college and then got married.  But, when she’d dropped me off at at school for years, I didn’t sob.  I got over it.  It got better.  My daughter will get better, too.

In fact, when I slipped out during the offering to check on her again, I found the toddlers on a field trip to the gym to play.  I had to duck around the corner before she saw me, but it wasn’t before I saw her happily holding Mr. Tim’s hand, walking down the hall with the others.  When we picked her up after service, she told us she was cranky at first but then she had a good time.  She pranced out of church like she owned the place and hadn’t about ripped our hearts to shreds just an hour and a half earlier.

I’m pretty sure that experienced mom was right.  It will get easier (again).  And for good measure, I even talked about it with my own mom yesterday.  She also assured me it was the right thing to let her adjust.  She assured me that in the end, it would be good for my daughter to have play time with other little ones.  She assured me we are on the right path.  It was just what I needed to hear most.  After all, while I’m taking care of my daughter, my mom is still taking care of hers, too.

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