“I've always wanted to be at home with my children”
How is being a full-time mother dealing with the idea of modern career woman? Do you feel like something is missing in your life?
I was working full-time until this past Christmas. Through some terrible dealings at work I lost my job. This was a blessing because it allowed me to be at home. I had been wanting to be at home for years and years but priests at missions in the U.S. are not paid very much so I was working to support us. After Christmas we were able to work on our house in order to sell it. The housing market has been very poor here so we were worried we would have a hard time. We moved in March and I've been able to be at home since Father is full-time now. Glory to God! We also sold our house last month. Again, glory to God!
I will admit that I have had some moments in which I felt bad because I was "just at home" now. Previously, I had been a rather important person at work (not in terms of my job title, but in terms of the difference I made) and it was harder than I was expecting to get used to. Occasionally I would feel inferior. I had to tell myself that I've always wanted to be at home with my children! Just because I'm at home now doesn't mean I'm any less intelligent or respectable. After working for thirteen years, I have had six months to get used to it. I also had to learn to keep an organized house! I had been home so little that Father had done more than half of the housework and almost all of the cooking. We were living upside down. He had also done all of the homeschooling and now I've taken all of that over as well. It has been a big adjustment, but I'm very happy. I don't feel like something is missing now. If I were at work, I would definitely feel like something were missing: me!
I really like your way of presenting serious matters colored with funny views. It’s really comforting! Let’s talk about your children’s education. In Romania homeschooling is not an option. Very few have heard of it. Please, tell us what is it and what are you doing with your kids in the program.
It's a shame that it's not an option in Romania. I know that that is the case in several other countries as well. Some parents have even had their children taken away from them for homeschooling.
Homeschooling is pretty much what it sounds like: education at home. In this country different states have different rules concerning homeschooling. In some states the parent must be a certified teacher. Others insist that the children be part of a formal homeschool group - many churches have them. The group may exist only as a formality (the children may not actually come together for any activities) or it may be an actual group with different parents sharing the teaching of different subjects, organized field trips, sports leagues etc. In some states there are virtually no rules at all. You just have to let your local school system know you're homeschooling and that's it. Likewise with standardized testing: some states require it, some don't.
The saying goes that there are as many ways of homeschooling as there are families! Some subscribe to a formal complete curriculum while others put it together from many sources.
We do the latter. This coming year we will have children in 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th grades. The youngest learns his letters, numbers and colors with me as he feels like it. Little ones learn primarily through living. The older ones take phonics or grammar (according to age - we'll have all grammar this year), spelling, penmanship, math, science (starting in 2nd grade), history (starting in 3rd grade), Christian Studies (Father teaches that, thank Heavens!) and the older ones take Latin. We've let Latin go this past year, but I want to get it going again. Father must teach that one too. I think they need to start Spanish (because of the large number of Spanish-speaking people in this part of the country) but we're still discussing that.
The books come largely from different sources. We're still feeling our way - sometimes we'll use a book and decide we like it and sometimes not. Needless to say, they all read. I do assign reading, but mostly (especially for the younger ones) I let them read whatever they want. I want them to learn to love reading. I can fine-tune it later!
“It's hard to imagine living in an Orthodox country”
Tell us more about Orthodoxy in America and especially in south, where you are. Here, in Romania, we are used to the idea of an orthodox majority (practicing the faith or not), and I thing very often we don’t realize the advantage of living in an Orthodox country. Do you see it as an advantage?
There are a few areas of the country where a priest might be recognized as being Orthodox. In my personal experience, this has happened in Pennsylvania. On the other hand, there are quite a few Byzantine Catholics in the area too and their priests wear cassocks. I have had to ask before getting a blessing (this happened in a hospital where I worked). In the southern U.S. (the Diocese of the South extends from New Mexico all the way to the east coast and up to Virginia and Kentucky - a total of 14 states!), Orthodox churches are few and far between. A lot of Orthodox Christians must drive for at least an hour, sometimes two or more to get to a church. The largest churches are generally Greek and they tend to be found in metropolitan areas. OCA missions are usually small, although there are several larger established churches.
It's hard to imagine living in an Orthodox country! I suppose in this modern world it has its advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes "cradle Orthodox" don't realize what a treasure they have and I think that secularized citizens (baptized but not practicing) can fail to give the proper respect to the church. On the other hand, I can't imagine the wealth of churches that exist in Romania and other European countries! I think that overall, I'd prefer to live in an Orthodox country, but my experience is very limited.
You know that the practice of pilgrimage goes back into far antiquity, into the Old and New Testaments record themselves. In these days traveling is not so arduous, nor even so dangerous, so something of the sacrifice of those journeys has been lost to us. Did you visit - together with your family or with your laypeople - the saint orthodox places from the USA? I mean the saint relics of Saint John Maximovitch archbishop of San Francisco, the tomb of Saint Raphael of Brooklyn or the tomb of the blessed father Seraphim Rose?
I would love to travel to California to venerate the relics of St. John Maximovitch and Fr. Seraphim Rose, but San Francisco is about 2200 miles from here and Platina is 2400 miles! Given the restrictions of finance, time and opportunity, sometimes we have to take closer pilgrimages. For many Americans, the practice of pilgrimage is very important. Mercifully, there are many monasteries in this country. We have taken advantage of the opportunity when we could. There is a Greek monastery, Holy Protection of the Theotokos in White Haven, Pennsylvania that we consider our monastic home. Our spiritual father is there. We became acquainted with Holy Protection in addition to St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, New York while at seminary at St. Tikhon’s (in fact, many people travel to St. Tikhon's to venerate St. Alexis Toth's relics.). We've also visited the Monastery of St. John Chrysostom in Wisconsin. We would like to take a trip to Texas to visit Holy Archangels' Monastery soon.
(to be continued)
Interview realized by Preoteasa Natalia & Preoteasa Eufemia
© Slujirea preotesei 2010
© Slujirea preotesei 2010