Orthodox Motherhood Series: Meet Emily

Orthodox Motherhood Series: Meet Emily

This is part of a new series I started this year! I often wonder what other mothers find wonderful and challenging about motherhood. I particularly wonder how faith impacts other mothers in their parenting journeys. My faith is centered in the Orthodox Christian Church, so I reached out to other Orthodox women to see if they would share some thoughts about parenting and faith. I’ve been delighted with their responses and I hope–whether you are Orthodox or not–that you find their answers inspiring and encouraging!

This week I’m happy to share thoughtful words from my friend Emily. We’ve been friends for several years, and are fortunate to be raising our families quite close to each other (within walking distance!). We also coordinate our local Orthodox mothers’ group together. Emily’s friendship has been an inspiration in many ways, not least in her example of faithful parenting. I hope her words are an inspiration to you, too!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family:

My husband, two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and I live in the city. I recently finished ten years of teaching to become a full time homemaker. My husband is a composer of music. He was first introduced to Orthodoxy about five years ago, and I became Orthodox just before getting married three years ago. While Kyle and I were dating, we took the inquirers classes together, even though he had already been Orthodox for a while. Through those classes I was able to see the meaning behind all of the beautiful mysteries that took place during liturgy and it gave new depth to the service and to my faith. Although I was at first quite hesitant of the faith, I thank God for allowing me to see how large and beautiful His kingdom is through the work of the church and it’s people. It’s been beautiful and difficult to raise a family in the church, but I’m thankful we are all together and seeing our daughter’s excitement for God and church is a true gift!

What is one of your favorite aspects of parenting?

My favorite part of parenting is seeing all of the new things our daughter is interested in and to see her faith grow. There is no doubt, motherhood is the most demanding role I have ever had. But my daughter makes me laugh, and brings so much delight and excitement to our lives. She is inventive, creative and compassionate. I could listen to her sing and tell stories all day long!

What is the thing you find most difficult about parenting?

The most challenging part is raising an independent daughter. The joy is she can make decisions, has opinions and convictions. The challenge is also all of those things and when they don’t line up with practicality, safety, or being on time. Also, my daughter has always struggled with sleep, which is a special form of torture that allows lots of opportunities to pray throughout the night, sometimes for hours at a time.

What is your best practical tip for creating an Orthodox home?

Love God and His church. Pray with your family, attend all of the services, participate in fasts, and care for others.

How has your Orthodox faith impacted your parenting?

I believe it’s given me a stronger push towards raising children in a way that will allow them to grow in fullness of their relationship with Christ and His calling on their lives, and in doing that, I’m also growing in my potential to be like Him by denying myself and putting on virtues that can be very challenging to put on.

What is the hardest thing about raising your children in the faith at the stage of life your kids are in right now?

Attending services can be a challenge in terms of participating myself in service and encouraging my daughter to also. However, it’s a good reminder that church isn’t about what you get out of it, it’s about what you are giving and offering to God.

What advice do you have for other moms raising their kids in the Orthodox faith?

Persevere, Lord willing, and with His help, we are doing the difficult, beautiful work of growing our salvation and allowing His light to grow and shine so that our children and others will desire that same light. There will be days you will wonder if it’s worth it, and you will be frustrated. During those times I try to remember how difficult it must be for Christ to see me act according to my own ways, and He still continues to be patient and love me. That gives me the push to do the same for my family.

What’s your favorite Orthodox parenting book?

To be honest, I’m not much of a reader. I’m working on it :). The two books I’m interested in reading are Blueprints for the Little Church and Parenting Toward the Kingdom.

What’s your favorite Orthodox children’s book?

We like to read H is for Holy. But our family reads about the life of the saints every night after dinner from The Prologue of Ohrid and my daughter loves to see the icons in it as we read.

Thank you so much for all these words, Emily! I love the way you said this: “we are doing the difficult, beautiful work of growing our salvation and allowing His light to grow and shine so that our children and others will desire that same light.” So very true, and a good reminder especially on the hard days/moments/hours! 

P.S. You can read the rest of the series here.