While yesterday was the official Mother’s Day on the calendar. I don’t think that any mom waits for one day a year to receive recognition for her good works. It isn’t as if she’s not working, cooking, cleaning, raising the children and/or helping to impact the lives of others the other 364 days a year. Yes it is nice to be acknowledged for what you do but if you got into motherhood for the thanks and praises then I have to tell you, you have another thing coming. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very fortunate to have a partner who frequently tells me that I’m doing a great job with our child. I have friends who will comment, what a good job we’re doing with Miss K. The reality of being a mother is it is messy (and I’m not just referring to the poop and puke stage). It is messy raw emotions running around both on the part of the mom and the part of the child. If you’re like me and your child is in the toddler/pre-schooler stage, every day is a battle of wills. Your little person is trying to exert their independence, while you as the adult are trying to allow them to do this but also keeping them safe. There is a standstill at the front door because you won’t let them wear the water shoes (you bought over the weekend and didn’t put away) to school this morning. There are meltdowns because you put them in the car seat and they didn’t climb in themselves. Then you decide to sing while the radio is playing Sunshine in my Pocket and let me tell you, mommy should not be singing (according to my child). Then there is the jacket/no jacket decision because one minute they want it on and one minute they do NOT want to be wearing their jacket. But of course along with all of these emotions are the pure raw ones. When your child grabs your hand to cross the parking lot. When they whisper, “hold me mommy.” When you’re dropping them off to school and they come running calling you, because I need one more hug and a kiss. This is what being a mother is all about. The one hug that feels like it sets the world in motion for it to be an amazing day. The kiss that you know comes with so much love. The words, I love you mommy, that come with a look that lets you know for that one moment, all is right in the world. Ladies and gentlemen, that is what motherhood is about. It is raw, it is emotional and it is real. There are moments that you want to pull your hair out, that you second guess your decision and you worry and wonder about the world that these little people are growing up in. But then there are the pure moments that make it all worth while.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all of the women who are in Miss K’s life. It takes a village and we’re surrounding ourselves with our tribe. I know that Mother’s Day isn’t an easy one for everyone. For those ladies who have lost their moms, may have a strained relationship with them, who may have lost a child, have had a strained relationship with their child, who have chosen not to be a mother or who are trying so hard to be a mother, I hope that you were able to get through the day and know that you play such a huge role in the lives of so many.
And remember it shouldn’t take another 364 days before you say Happy Mother’s Day to your mom or thank you for all that she’s done to make you the person that you are today.
As I began to think about what to write about this week, Ι couldn’t let the week pass by without acknowledging the Sarakosti. Sarakosti or the Great Lent, is the 40 day Lenten period that starts with Clean Monday and ends on Holy Saturday night. I remember growing up and clean Monday was a big deal. My mom would make a lagana, we’d have tarama, and even though we were restricted in our eating, we made a party out of it. My husband, although not one to go to church, does usually fast before Easter and Christmas. This year he decided 50 days over the typical 40 days. It is a man’s prerogative to do as he likes. I have been trying to come up with some great Lenten recipes and came across something that I had personally never seen before, the Sarakosti poem. I think it will be a perfect way to begin to explain Lent to my almost three year old. As a former Sunday School teacher, I honestly can’t believe I didn’t come across this earlier in life as it would have been an amazing tool to use with the children. For my friends with little ones or those of you who are current Sunday School teachers, please check out the link here . A big thank you to our friends over at Orthodox Mom for bringing this great tradition to our attention.
As we embark on the Great Lent, prayers is also such an important part. Our nightly ritual is to kiss Panagia’s icon before making our way into my daughter’s room. Since she’s still young, all of the icons in her room are hung high up where she can’t reach. Over 15 years ago, during my Sunday School teaching days, we made this icon with our students. I still have it today and it is on a table as you enter our home. She must pass by it to reach her room so it has become the ritual to say thank you to Panagia, kiss the icon and off to bed we go. I was thinking how I could incorporate something more during Lent. I was able to find an easy toddler prayer on the website of the Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Lowell, MA of all places, bringing it back to Massachusetts.
Praying With Toddlers: each them early to venerate icons and to Cross themselves. Explain simple concepts of God and Jesus. Pray with them by helping enumerate their blessings: Jesus loves my _______ . Thank you God, for _______ .
Child’s Prayer: Heavenly Father, bless my parents and all those who love and care for me. Help me in all ways to be respectful and obedient to them according to Your will. Send down upon me Your grace to perform all my duties carefully and faithfully, to avoid unacceptable company and influence and to resist all temptation that may come my way. Help me Lord to live a serious, good and godly life, praising You constantly and glorifying Your holy Name. Amen.
Your child is never too young or too old to begin to pray. They have a wonderful Orthodox Prayer Book, that you can find in full here. Thank you to the Transfiguration Community for this wonderful resource.
Kαλη σαρακοστή σε ολλους σας.
So as I sit here and type I am trying to figure out the best way to continue the Greek language with the kid. Obviously I want to make sure she can communicate with her grandparents and family members in Greece. I try to think back about my upbringing and I can remember being in first grade doing spelling words with my tenant because my parents couldn’t help me. Thinking back to that moment, I’m sure I’m not the only first generation American/Canadian/Australian who was in that boat. Our parents immigrated to other countries so that we would have ‘a better life,’ which really meant more opportunities. Greek was my first language and I do believe it helped me learn English. I don’t want to have a Mr. Portokalis moment alla My Big Fat Greek Wedding but the root word of many words is in fact Greek. Saying all that how did my parents know how much to push me to make sure I learned Greet to not sound like an EllinoAmerikanaki and in my daughter’s case to have her not sound like an EllinoAmeriKanadezaki. Yes I totally made that word up but if you’re Greek, you get my point. I don’t want her to have that accent. I don’t want people in Greece to think of her being any less Greek because she wasn’t born there. A difficult thing for me to grasp is why so many programs and Greek Schools start at a later age. Most language is grasped in the first two to three years so why wait until the child is four or five years old? Would it make sense to come up with a curriculum that is play/song based to get our little ones going?
So help me out parents, at what age did you put your child in a Greek program? At what age did see your child engage with their Greek friends/family members in Greek? Do you think we should be doing more, earlier?