When you have exceptional children, liturgical living can be a struggle. I’ve developed this sensory-friendly Lenten resource for Catholic kids, featuring flexible, adaptable ideas for prayer, sacrifice, and good works.
Seven years ago, our parish held its first veneration of the cross. We were running late with the four-year-old and the baby and when we got there, we had no place to park.
The baby was fussing.
I hadn’t slept much the night before.
3:05. The front doors of the Church were closing. I turned to my husband.
“I think we might just have to go home.”
A shoe whizzed past my shoulder. The car shook as the four-year-old bucked. In hindsight, she was having a double whammy of a meltdown, triggered by sensory issues and unmet expectations. In the moment, though, we were frustrated and mortified. We had no idea she was a Twice-Exceptional – we just knew she couldn’t deal with life like other kids. Everything – new textures, new experiences, new routines – was like walking on eggshells. If plans changed or the environment was too busy, we’d have an over the top meltdown on our hands.
I was done. Every time I thought we were making progress, some random issue would throw us off. She was at the age where I had started to teach her about liturgical practices, and all my Catholic mom friends were going gangbusters with activities from mommy blogs.
Our daughter’s unmet needs and my unrealistic expectations had equaled disaster.
I was ashamed of myself.
Thankfully, we’ve all grown. She’s 11 now, and coping is so much easier for her. But where one child’s moved forward, another has taken her place. My seven-year-old struggles with anxiety. She is a sensitive worrier and a strong empath. We’ve been fielding a host of questions about suffering, death, and redemption, and we have a frequent need to dry tears during mass. Her tendency to identify with Jesus’s passion is both encouraging and terrifying.
The upcoming Lenten season has the potential to make me worried. How do we approach this with such a sensitive kid? How do we keep the focus on the beauty of the season, instead of the struggles that might make it hard?
I know we aren’t alone in our needs or situation. There are other moms, other families, who want to experience the fullness of the liturgical season but haven’t yet found a resource that works. To that end, I’ve created a gentle, flexible, hands-on resource for exceptional families, and i’m excited to share it with you today. It combines prayer, Lenten sacrifice, and adaptable activities for an attainable, works of mercy focused Lent.
In this free, printable resource pack, you’ll get:
40 ideas for Lenten sacrifice – a new option for each day
7 weekly prayers – a set for mom and a set for the kiddos – centered on the cardinal and theological virtues
7 sensory-friendly, hands-on activities, based on the five senses and adaptable to your family’s needs
I created this Lenten resource to be flexible and forgiving: I wanted to shift the focus away from quantity and toward quality. There’s no specific order to follow, so you can pick and choose your family’s activities based on the rhythm of your day. I’ve also provided blank spaces for customization: you can add your own good works and ideas for sacrifice, or even add in the Scriptures for the week. The point of this resource is to provide a low-pressure, adaptable starting point. You can do as much as your family would like.
As the mother of gifted, special needs kiddos, I’ve had to change my expectations. I’ve had to learn to be grateful for both the trials and the triumphs, and I’ve had to lean on Jesus, a lot. My life isn’t going to look like other families’. There are going to be days when the intensities, the anxieties, and the sensitivities are just too much. Our liturgical living efforts aren’t going to look like Catholic Icing or Shower of Roses or anything at all on Pinterest.
And finally, I’m okay with that.