Yesterday caught me by surprise. One of my younger ones came home from school and quickly spiraled down into a very loud, dysregulated state. I tried everything I knew, gentle words, loving touch, food, rocking, sensory support (deep pressure, tight hugs), giving space, offering a change of environment (sometimes a shower is calming). Nothing. I couldn’t seem to help him out of the swirling vortex.
I called Russ (who was planning to work late) and asked him to come home for dinner. I cried when he walked in the door and hugged me – I felt like I had been in a battle since 3:30. We got through dinner, and then my boy unhappily cleaned up the overturned chairs, strewn schoolwork, and shoes. We were aiming for the earliest bedtime possible, hoping that a good night of sleep might make for a better day today, so by 7:00 we were gathered in the family room to read our Advent book, Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent.
We lit a small candle, turned off all the lights (I had a headlamp), and I read a chapter to the children. They became engaged with the story, and the turmoil of the afternoon faded. As we finished the chapter and said goodnight, I pulled my son close and told him I didn’t want him to go to bed until we had made everything right. He leaned in and told me he was sorry for what had happened and asked me to forgive him.
I said, “I wonder what caused so many big feelings today?” He tearfully answered, “My Mom and Dad died and I don’t even know my grandparents.”
When I least expect it, my children’s grief can well up and swallow them whole. Sadness often presents as anger – it feels so much safer to be angry than to let the overwhelming sorrow sweep over them.
He hasn’t woken yet this morning, but I’m going to do what I can to help him ease into the day. My plan is for a good breakfast, a calm and organized mom, time for our Jesse Tree, and prayer before he heads out the door. I hope his heart will be calmed and he’ll accept connection and support before he heads to school.
Tomorrow I’ll have the final post in the series, Once an Orphan: The Journey to Secure Attachment. So many of us have been blessed by Sarah’s words; what an honor to have her share them here.
Have a good day, friends.