Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How to be a Perfect Mom (& Priest's Wife)

Are you still here? Good- because I have more advice on how to be perfect! Again, some of this advice will work for any mom, some I failed at and have learned my lesson, some I never really had a problem with, and some I still fail miserably at- here we go again...

Your attitude determines your kids' attitudes (gulp.)- If you are glum and bitter about being flexible on holidays, your children will be, too. If you gossip about a parishioner, they will have negative words to say, too. If you complain about fasting, of course the children are going to have bad attitudes! It is difficult and sometimes embarrassing; children are mirrors of their parents- especially in the early years. Try to make life an adventure and they will be more likely to keep the faith when they are adults.

Don't expect your kids to be more organized than you (gulp again.)- Do you expect your children to make their beds while your own bedroom is messy? I am guilty of this. I am working on this. I definitely feel more peaceful and satisfied with our little house when it is clean and organized. And it is much easier to help with parish life when we can find the bulletins or music books or stationary supplies.

Little pitchers have big ears-This is where the chamomile tea with husband comes in- really try to shield your children against the harsh realities of life while you can. Do they need to know that their father baptized yet another child at the hospital who wouldn't make it through the night? Will they benefit if they know that a parishioner said something negative to me? I try to be charitable in my speech in general- and especially when the children are listening.

Model respect for differences- My kids know that I wish everyone were Christian and Catholic and more were of the Byzantine variety. They also know that there are bits of truth everywhere and we as a family are not going to condemn anyone. I might judge someone's behavior but I cannot (thank God) judge a  person's soul. I hope my kids are getting the idea that God really loves everyone. A practical way of modeling respect for differences is not allowing our children to ridicule other cultures. My girls are singing a song in Hebrew for choir, and the boys in the group (of course) were exaggerating the 'ch' sound and pretending to spit. My girls just sang the song beautifully- I was proud of them

Help them cultivate friendships with other priest's kids- We are a rare breed. Use email, Skype and snail mail so that your kids are not the only ones.

Help them cultivate friendships with kids from the parish and not from the parish- My big girls go to Little Flowers with friends from our Catholic homeschooling group. None of these girls have been to our missions, so my daughters conform to the Western-rite ways when they are there. They have a great time with these solidly Catholic pre-teens, but it is also nice to be with friends who are of the same rite and whose parents come from the same old country where it is strange when a priest isn't married with kids. I think having friends from both groups is important to my children's tolerance of diversity and their future in America that is not Eastern-rite. They need to be able to respond and deal with the comment- "Your Dad's a PRIEST?!" But they also need a break from the Western way of looking at things.

Help them find their niche at church-  As your children get older, they will (hopefully) be willing and able to serve in different capacities at church. Encourage them and remind them that just because their father is in a position of greatest influence does not mean that they can be a 'mini'- boss. And just like you, their obligation as they get older is to participate (my mother insisted that we sing at Mass even when we were semi-sullen teenagers- we obeyed and survived) in the Liturgy. Every other task is a gift to the parish and should be their choice to make.

Pray with them & Pray for them- PKs should be guided in their relationship with God. Yes, they are always in church and they participate in the life of the church.  This leads parents to have a false sense of security. Parents- don't relax. Satan just loves scandal and is trying to trip us up- be vigilant. Help your children have a personal relationship with God.

A few random ideas on making church days run smoothly-
  • Buy a van- I suppose SUVs are 'cooler,' but there is nothing worse than having to tell a parishioner that your child smashed their car while opening a car door. Sliding doors, je t'aime.
  • Figure out how you can refrain from buying stuff on Sundays- it is just more peaceful staying out of the Temple of Stuff on Sundays. Have dinner waiting in a crockpot, freeze yogurt overnight and bring to church (it will be yummily semi-frozen for a quick snack when services are over), get gas the night before, & pretend you live in rural Europe where stores are closed on Sundays and people prepare for it- Sunday comes every week!
  • Lay everyone's clothes (socks, undies and shoes as well!) out the night before. My mother did this; it probably helped her sanity with five children. My sister with all those boys is quite organized- the boys always wear khakis. Their wardrobe is limited, but they always look respectful and put together.
  • Yesterday I wrote that you might have a box ready and waiting for church days, filling it with things along the way. If you have really young ones, make sure the box has a tight fitting lid or they will undo your work and bulletins and linens will be scattered throughout the house.
  • ANY MOM- Please write YOUR go-to tips on getting out of the house Sunday morning peacefully in the comments below.
& yes- sometimes even the priest's kids just need to "smile and wave."

source: dreamworks

One aspect of being a good priest's wife has been missing yesterday and today- self care (it isn't selfishness!). So I guess I am not finished with this series...more to come...


  1. self-care? what's that?

    oh... you mean that thing where you do something for yourself like shower, read a book, or... something not for church, your husband, or your screaming two year old?

    (yeah... you can tell how good i am at it.)

  2. My two sons wear black slacks and white polo shirts to Divine Liturgy on Sundays, since they both serve at the altar, and even if they're not scheduled they may be called to sub at the last minute. And I am slowly switching my daughter's Church clothing to all solid colors so that everything coordinates.

  3. MommyMagpie- girls are more complicated- I'm trying to keep all out-of-season clothing packed away

  4. With two babies under two years old we have to be very organized around here. On top of having all the clothes laid out on Sat. night, I also do my hair the night before so it only needs a quick touch up in Sunday morning. I also ALWAYS make sure the house is clean enough for surprise guests before I go to bed. More often than he will admit, we will be walking to the car after Liturgy and my husband will look over and say "I invited Deacon X and his family for brunch..that's ok right?" I always have the supplies for a pancake brunch for 10 on hand.
    We also have a "daddy bag" which contains everything we would need to take care of the kids for 3-4 hours (diapers, colouring, snacks). This bag helps the kids get through a 2 hours church service in a language they don't understand. It goes everywhere with us.

  5. Know what time you have to start getting ready in the morning, especially if your husband isn't so good at it. In our case, we has to have eaten and bathed by 8:45 in order to leave the house at 9:30. My husband thinks that is way too long, and frequently pushes it by spending some extra time reading the paper. Inevitably, that means we're rushing around the house trying to get last minute things together. (Ok, it really means I turn into an insane maniac, as I hate to be late anywhere, but especially church.) Also, always assume you're going to have to nurse and change the baby just as you thought you were going to walk out the door and adjust accordingly.

  6. I will most definitely be neither a wife nor a mother but I though this was great advice!

  7. Kim- I love your ideas! I forgot to write about the importance of the bags...just a few months ago, my sweet 1 1/5 year old threw up all over her church clothes just as we were getting out of the car- I had no change of clothes for her! :( Another reason for a van: take a change of clothes for everyone! and a small cooler of drinks and other things for after Liturgy! and lots of diapers and wipes! and some source of protein so the kids don't go into donut overload!

  8. Elizabeth--- life isn't always fair, but we are the queens of the castle that determine everyone's calm...sometimes I just pack the kids in the car so we can be waiting for him :)

  9. Patrick- but you are in training to be Super Father (either father of a few or of a parish- not 'and' because you are Roman) ;)

  10. Hahaha...I can TOTALLY relate to the "donut overload". Every parishioner gives my son a "little bit" of their donut and before I know it he's probably eaten three or four!! Change of clothes is good too, luckily we only live a 10min drive from church.

  11. I have definitely loaded up the kids and waited for him in the car. I've also left him behind, to come in the second car when he's ready. I always let him know ahead of time that I'm going to do it, of course. I just say (as sweetly as I can in my stressed-out, late-for-church sort of way) that we're going to go ahead and go, he can come when he's ready. He usually manages to pick up the pace and come with us, but occasionally I have gone alone.

  12. Gah, I had a comment the other day that I thought went through...guess not.

    A little late to the party, but here's what has worked for us.

    Make sure that you have small bills/coins on Saturday (or even during the week)--for the candle box/basket...and of course for mirevanja, which isn't always announced beforehand.

    Write out your checks ahead of time. If you tithe with cash, you can also gather that up ahead of time. I write the checks out, stuff the envelopes and tuck them into my wallet on Saturdays while balancing the checkbook or paying bills. There used to be a scramble in the morning to grab the envelopes, writing the checks in the car (or even one time during the homily!).


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