Maybe I'm doing something wrong or have the wrong expectations, but this year's Holy Week isn't as bad as I had feared, at least so far.
This morning we celebrated the Eucharist with the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, and everything went pretty well. Timmo and I came home, and he didn't even wake up when I put him down for a nap straight from the car. Teddy and Lucia went shopping with Daddy for most of the things we'll make on Holy Saturday as well as things we're just running out of, and roses for the crown for tonight and rose petals for Holy Friday's Lamentations. He brought them home and put things away and everyone at least rested if they didn't actually nap.
Then about two hours before tonight's service, my husband looks up from his researches on decorating a crown with roses and says in an alarmed fashion, "There's the icon of the crucifixion for tonight." So he went to the church to get that icon as well as another icon (to get the floral pins out), get more flowers (first place didn't have any good ones), grumble about traffic (it has seemed especially bad this week, including this evening's "Let's merge onto the busy highway starting around 20 mph" driver right in front of me), and finally get enough good flowers (he has good taste in these things, we think) for the icon. Then he came home and wrangled food into the children and clothes onto them, and took them upstairs so I could murder flowers with pins in a hasty manner and then just about snatched the icon (the crown having already been taken out to the car as soon as it was finished) and vanished, leaving me to finish the wrangling job (okay, so it was mostly me waddling around trying to find my shoes and sunglasses and realizing that the rest of everything was still in the car).
Here's basically how tonight's service went: change a diaper while husband starts service, prayers and hymns, first gospel in the narthex, prayers and hymns, (repeat for four more gospel readings including a poopy diaper), go downstairs to put baby to bed, come out to chastise and feed oldest, go upstairs and get to be in church for gospels 8-10 (maybe?), unhappily find another poopy diaper by feel, and come back up for some closing remarks by husband, then venerate the cross with a little girl who won't and without a little boy who just
fell asleep. (I had the service on my phone thanks to Fr. Seraphim's Digital Chant Stand
, having loaned out my Holy Week book, but even then it was easy to lose my place, and I realized I could have stayed upstairs so the baby and I could have watched the cross procession, but he had just
started settling down...)
I don't really feel like I'm able to pay attention to the services much if at all, but I think I might be yelling less. I do feel like I have my Holy Week blinders on. Everything is streamlined and focused on getting to church (at least physically). Does everyone have enough to eat? Does everyone have something to wear to church? (Yes, since they don't actually take clothes off at night, just at mealtimes if they can't eat neatly yet. All three children are asleep in their church clothes, and Teddy has inexplicably added a sleep mask* to his nighttime attire.) Is there a path through the living room to get out? Are there enough clean diapers? Are they put together? Do we have time to lie down and rest? Is there enough energy to get anything above minimum done? (Above minimum tasks for today included picking up a piece of toast on the living room floor and tossing it outside for the birds; starting a load of laundry (I'd like clean socks for tomorrow); and getting more than half an hour done on AFR transcripts.)
*When Daddy opened the door for Timmo to come out this morning, Timmo didn't even give him the time of day: he went straight for the sleep mask which was right outside the door, started censing with it and chanting (mostly "Aaah"), and bam! prostration! (This kid does not bend his knees, just puts his head on the floor.) I guess he's absorbing something from all these services. Tonight we were mostly in the narthex, and he was censing away (everything is a censer: pillowcase, bead necklace) and heard "ages of ages" and carefully intoned, "Amen"—his first, to my knowledge.
Teddy had earlier made a connection between Judas selling Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and Joseph's brothers selling him
for 20 pieces of silver. (He really likes his Joseph book, a beautiful discard from some library that I found.) Then today he asked about Jesus' purple robe when talking about the procession of the cross in preparation for this evening's service.
I don't know what Lucia is picking up yet, but she seems to know what's going on in all the services, prompting me to get up or sit down or kneel. She even was ready to stand for the twelfth gospel pericope this evening.
So even if I think I am not paying attention to the services, I am certainly deriving the benefits of attending.