They’ll be fine, really.

Not too long ago I was lamenting to my spiritual father that the chaos of a large family in a small house was very frustrating. “I’m an organized person,” I said. He looked up and said, “Really? I’ve never met a homeschooling mother of many children who was an organized person.” I laughed and said, “Well, in my head I’m an organized person! I’m an organized wannabe.”

I wannabe a lot of things. I’m a Martha Stewart wannabe. I’m a saint wannabe (obviously not wanting it enough, right?). I’m a homeschooling guru wannabe. I’m an author wannabe. I’m a saintly, homeschooling, crafty author wannabe. Sigh.

So what got this going? Well, I’ve always felt rather guilty that I’m not a crafty mom. “Ha ha,” you think, “you’re covered up with crafts!” Well, yes, my crafts. Not children’s crafts. I don’t do Lenten activities, I don’t do Advent activities. I don’t have my children memorizing prayers and reciting them back. They don’t illustrate the lives of the saints. (Well, ok, saint coloring pages.) At heart I’m not an elementary school teacher. Really, I’m a very selfish person who wants to get away and do my own thing. I talk to children with normal adult vocabulary, restating with simpler vocabulary as necessary. When we play Clue, I play to win. Ok, I’m rambling now.

We’ve been at church every single day since last Saturday. We had the usual Saturday Vespers, then Liturgy on Sunday followed immediately by Forgiveness Vespers. Monday through Thursday evenings we did the Great Canon of St. Andrew and last night we had our first Presanctified Liturgy. Between that and keeping up with the usual house, meals and laundry, I have hardly been able to think straight. It’s worth it, of course. Several times during this past week I’ve noticed that the children know these prayers by heart. Except for Ribby, we don’t stand in the choir so we don’t have the books to assist us. The children sing like songbirds, bringing things up from year-old memories. Now, I never sat down with any of them to say, “Children, we are going to memorize the hymn of ___.” They just learned them by being in church and hearing them over and over and over. The boys know the services through serving in the altar. The girls sing and ring bells. They participate in processions and decorating the church. Without having heard lectures on the virtues of charity, they come to us and offer money for various needs. God is making up for the deficiencies of the mother.

Once upon a time I thought I would have organized classes for the children in sewing and crocheting/knitting. So much for that. I threw up my hands and forgot about it. But, because of their individual motivations, each girl has asked for help with and learned to do various things. I don’t tell them what to do, I just am on hand to assist as needed.

 Ribby knits. She’s learned how to use double-pointed needles and is working on hats for Calvin’s Hats now. She spends most of her free time reading (wonder who she gets that from?) Like all the girls, she’s wonderful with Miss Moppet.

  Duchess embroiders her own designs and works on plastic canvas. She has always been good at drawing and she’s transferred that talent to the needle. She builds incredible lego houses. She pores through cookbooks and creates things in the kitchen.

Flopsy crochets and sews. Really, of the three of them she’s the most crafty. She’s a miniature Martha Stewart. She makes miniatures from clay, twigs and bark, makes doll quilts, crochets animals, sews doll clothes and yesterday made herself a skirt and wore it to church. They all get books from the library to search for ideas for new things to make.

Ginger recently told me he wants to learn how to sew since it says in his “Dangerous Book for Boys” that all boys need to know how to sew. He builds things with legos constantly – the more creative, the better. He designed his own comic strip and hands us new strips every few days. He is never happier than when he is in the altar and spent his own money for a nice prayer book in which he has made liturgical notes.

I’ve had a few lessons with Pickles in crocheting. (He learned how to make a chain, I learned patience.) He likes to role-play and draws quite well for someone who’s just seven. He too loves legos. 🙂

Really, they’re all learning despite me, not because of me.

So take heart, all you mothers who are like me. Your children will do just fine even if you’re not ultra-crafty, even if you don’t take them to homeschooling conventions, even if you’re allergic to salt-dough and never sit down with them to memorize the Creed. They’ll learn how to cook, how to sew, how to do laundry, how to build, how to entertain babies and small children, how to sing in church. They’ll be just fine. Just keep praying.

18 thoughts on “They’ll be fine, really.

  1. Love this. I am the same way… non-crafty, not-very-creative about teaching things like prayers, so it is encouraging to hear how your children are still thriving and learning and growing.


  2. I love this post. In our Sunday School, we've tried to create a Hymnology Program to teach the kids the hymns and what they mean, and we keep running into obstacles and at the last meeting, a teacher said, “haven't we Orthodox just always learned hymns by being in church? Isn't that the right and natural way?” He's so right. Truth is, our generation is all about creating structured 'opportunities' for kids to learn (OK, kids, Tuesday is crochet day! Go get your little needles and personalized kits!) and it's goofy. We are causing ourselves a lot of stress, forcing our kids into unnatural conditions, and comparing ourselves with one another. I've given up on it myself, and my kids, like yours, are gravitating to natural interests and learning along the way. Like all humans have always done, ever. 😉 Yay for the less organized, less ambitious moms! The kids are coming out better anyway.


  3. Yeah, while I'm crafty, I'm not so much a craft with kids (except at Sunday School) type of person either.
    They'll be ok indeed, every project is fabulous!


  4. I can attest, after homeschooling five kids, to what Mat. Anna says – each (now grownup) kid of mine has learned so many things while under our roof, that I never knew how to teach. I did try to inculcate an attitude of “I can learn what I want by trying, from books, or from someone else who knows.” And that someone was not often Mom!


  5. You hit it smack on the head! Our children learn from watching us and yes, actually attending church! I have always been amazed at my little man who wants to follow the service in the book and who can chant from the pews. As far as crafts go…I love them! Isn't it obvious, I love doing them with the children, my own and others, but then it's more about the process…meaning having fun with it, rather than the result. Great post, Matush!


  6. Thank you for this. I do not have children at this point but lots of my friends do. I look at their Facebook posts about home-making or home-schooling and often think that I don't have the talents needed to be a good home-schooling mom. (I am an academic married to another academic — between the two of us we have barely enough practical skills to get by). Your honesty is both refreshing and comforting. I really appreciate it.

    — Valja in Norway


  7. Thank you so much. I am a new Khouria with four little ones, and am constantly afraid that I am not doing enough. This is so inspiring, and also helped me to look at the things my children already love to do and realize that I AM teaching. Just not in a traditional way all the time.


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