For years I worked for a very successful company in the film industry as the general manager. My responsibilities were a little of this, a little of that and a lot of everything. One of the things I prided myself on while in the work force was organization. I could work under loads of pressure and juggle several different projects on a daily basis. In fact the busier I was the more I liked it.
I find it ironic that the one of the things that hinders me most in my daily life now as a wife and homeschooling mother is my lack of organization. Some days when I feel especially disorganized and frazzled I have to laugh at how I used to manage in my old job. Everything in my office was perfectly organized, neatly labeled and filed. Everything in my office was very clean and neat. No one ever had to ask me where something was, how to do it or when because I was typically several steps ahead of them. Another life...
Now, don't get me wrong. I would love to still have those skills that I somehow, somewhere lost. I'm sure my husband wishes I had them back too (although he never complains). I'm certainly not condemning being organized-unless of course it's an obsession. But I find that the Lord truly does give us what we need. These days my oldest usually wakes up before I do...she's eight. Aren't I supposed to be up, showered, prayed, read, dressed, baked and all ready to go before anyone else hits the floor?!
Since my ability to run a tight ship did not seem to follow me home when I left that job for this one, I have had to change my expectations in a very large way. I spent a great deal of time beating myself up over the years for not being able to run my home life like I did with my old job. While I did live my faith in my job it is only now as a mother that I have really begun to live my faith. Of course I can contribute this to my marriage, but I largely contribute it to having children.
While I think that having a game plan, being organized and creating a warm and inviting home is very important for children (and my husband), I have since learned that remaining at peace and giving thanks to God in absolutely everything is the best education I can give my girls-despite my shortcomings. As I think back over the last couple of years and remember different learning, cooking, cleaning scenarios I've tried, that didn't really work, I just remember the anxiety I felt about not doing a good job within our home. Surely my family has felt my anxiety too on some level.
Being able to have a prayerful life and a peaceful heart is largely what managing a home is all about for me these days (I've yet to perfect either of these by the way). I've come to realize that the girls don't care how organized I am, although I will always strive to be better organized, what they want is my love, attention, prayers and direction-and this is not always an easy task. My girls don't need to see me stressed out because I can't think of what to cook for dinner, what they need to see is my ability to ask God for direction and gently begin to move in that way with humility and joy-and this is not always easy either. As my priest always says: "One foot in front of the other, just place one foot in front of the other." That is to say, just begin. Stop fretting about it, pray about it and then begin to move slowly. One can waist a great deal of time fretting.
I love being home as a wife and a mother. I love homeschooling the girls. I feel that my husband and my children are the greatest gifts God has given me, in addition to the Orthodox Church, but I do think it's the hardest work I've ever done. I find it the most challenging because while I can work hard on healthy meals, good curriculum and trying to sweep every day, it won't matter unless I'm living my life according to the commandments of our Lord. I can pray every morning with my girls, but if I'm not putting on Christ in all I do, then my girls will not know to do this either. I have seen the worst of me in my girls before and it is a sad sight to behold. It is very humbling and this is what I need.
I love this quote by Elder Porphyrios:
“What saves and makes for good children is the life of the parents in the home. The parents need to devote themselves to the love of God. They need to become saints in their relations to their children through their mildness, patience, and love. They need to make a new start every day, with a fresh outlook, renewed enthusiasm and love for their children. And the joy that will come to them, the holiness that will visit them, will shower grace on their children. Generally the parents are to blame for the bad behavior of the children. And their behaviour is not improved by reprimands, disciplining, or strictness. If the parents do not pursue a life of holiness and if they don’t engage in spiritual struggle, they make great mistakes and transmit the faults they have within them. If the parents do not live a holy life and do not display love towards each other, the devil torments the parents with the reactions of the children. Love, harmony and understanding between parents are what are required for the children. This provides a great sense of security and certainty.”
Elder Porphyrios on Nurturing Children
May the Lord bless us and grant us strength in His holy work!