My family and I joined the Orthodox Church during our parish’s Pascha vigil in 2015. I will never forget that blessed night. My husband and I watched with pride as each of our daughters were baptized. Tears streamed down my cheeks as our parish chanted “SEALED” while Fr. Alban chrismated us. Then with a mixture of excitement and a healthy dose of fear we partook of the Eucharist. For the first time in my spiritual life, I truly felt at home.
Incorporating Orthodox customs and traditions into our family has been a lot of fun, but also challenging. Neither my husband nor I were raised Orthodox, so this is all new to us. We do our best to immerse our children in the Orthodox culture, but sometimes we fall a bit short. Here is a list of a few of my Orthodox Mom fails:
- For us the 12 days of Christmas typically last about 4 days before we burn out. Every year I make elaborate plans to stretch out the festivities, but we have yet to follow through with them.
- My youngest daughter insists on being a nun when she grows up, the only problem is that she wants to be a Mommy nun. She hasn’t realized that nuns do not have biological children.
- My oldest daughter is very analytical. Lately, after bedtime prayers she will ask us why she can’t see God, her guardian angel, or the Saints. Apparently I haven’t done a very good job in explaining the spiritual realm.
- I haven’t even begun trying to teach my kids how to name the books of the Bible. The Orthodox Bible contains 77 book whereas the Protestant Bible has only 66. That catchy song I grew up with as a Baptist child just doesn’t work anymore.
- My youngest daughter once found it appropriate to loudly fart during Communion. To add insult to injury she then announced it to the entire congregation. I wanted to crawl underneath the non-existent pews and die.
- After spending all night at the Nativity vigil trying to prevent my children from catching their hair on fire, I ended up burning a large section of my youngest daughter’s hair. She reeked for days.
- My oldest daughter once spilled the entire bowl of Holy Water all over the floor. I scrambled trying to wipe it up with my shirt before anyone noticed.
- While visiting a monastery I went forward to venerate the icon in the middle of the room. I didn’t realize there was glass in front of it and I ended up face planting loudly into it. I hope the monks just shrugged it off as me being extremely pious.
- Let’s just say that elastic banded skirts and prostrations don’t mix well together and leave it at that…
- My children rarely make it to Liturgy with shoes on. We are always in such a rush to get out the door that something has to give… Typically it is the shoes.
Since our conversion, I have done my best to raise pious Orthodox children. I fantasize about elaborate Pascha celebrations and nightly family prayers complete with incense and candlelight. I dream about homeschooling them with the perfect Orthodox curriculum. I’ve toyed with the idea of naming a baby Seraphim. Reality doesn’t look anything like this.
My family has had a lot of Orthodox growing pains, but I don’t sweat the small stuff. Every time I watch my children light a candle at church my heart melts a little. I smile as they proudly waddle up to partake of the Eucharist. My soul sings as I watch them venerate the icons in our prayer corner. At the end of the day, I know that the faith is sinking deeply into their souls. May the Lord help us as we continue our journey.