Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stretched Too Thin

Dear friends,

I am struggling. I am the mother of an ever-increasingly-active two-year-old boy. And I am the choir director of our church, as well as the main chanter. These two callings do not work well together, especially as, stretched thin by those demands, I am thickening in the middle. (The baby is due the week before Holy Week.)

Today I received word from a friend on the parish council that he and another parish council member have been receiving complaints about Teddy's behavior. I did not ask for details.

It seems that I have different expectations of my son than everyone else in the entire parish, except my husband. This morning I was filled with joy because Teddy was singing along with the choir more than he ever has before. Instead of just "Lord, have mercy," "Kyrie, eleison," "To You, O Lord," and "Amen," he was singing the trisagion hymn and parts of other hymns in both Greek and English. At the same time, I was frustrated that he still kicks and bangs on the pews, with his feet and with his little cars. I am fine with him standing on a little box to see out of the choir loft, but this makes several members of the choir almost terrified that he'll fall down. He was stopped from going downstairs (after I had specifically said that he should, as he wanted a certain favorite parishioner who was downstairs and I told him he could go and see his Vickie) by one of the choir members who really upset him by picking him up and trying to keep him in the choir loft. She asked doubtfully, "Can he go down the stairs by himself?" People, he's been going up and down those stairs for months. By himself. Carrying toys and whatnot. Plus, I *told* him to go downstairs. Another choir member, better known to Teddy and myself, picked him up and talked to him, but he was still upset enough that I had to hold him almost the rest of the service.

He knows when the Gospel is. He knows he must either be held by me or sit or stand quietly. He sings, "Glory to You, O Lord," at just the right times, without any cues besides what's going on in the service. On the other hand, he's a wiggly two-year-old.

People usually come to me after I'm wrung out with trying to at least contain him when he's been acting up all through the services and say, "Oh, he was so *good* today!" So I appreciated being told that there have been problems with his behavior. (I wouldn't have brought him to the whole parish council meeting if I hadn't needed to tell the parish council things ... and, no, I don't trust my husband to remember them; he's got his own things he needs to take care of.)

The choir and I can't agree on a time for rehearsal. They say they'll come during Orthros (great, but I'm in church) or after Liturgy (I'm exhausted by then; again: I come to Orthros), but not after Vespers on Saturday. So then they're frustrated at sight-reading on Sunday morning. (I am one of very few people who can read music, and even for "Amen" some of them (who very much need to) just won't look up. Now I know what my band directors were always talking about.)

I don't mind preparing the music, and I don't mind singing planned (or unplanned) solos, even though this morning when I was going to review the music, I broke the plug for our electronic keyboard at home and have no idea whether I stayed in tone 4 for the hymn in church. Fr. Peter usually runs the rehearsals, as he's directed choirs properly before. We've talked about recording the hymns ahead of time and putting them on the church website, but there never seems to be time ... without a noisy boy in the background.

God gave me a husband and a son. The choir literally tricked me into being the choir director. (The parish has no money budgeted for a choir director next year, and there are few parishioners who are able, let alone willing, to step in.) It's painful to listen to this choir when there is no director. It's horrible to watch Teddy act up or cry and I'm not able to get to him because I'm in the middle of conducting a hymn. I love having Teddy in the choir, though. I love having him sing, even if he's playing with his trucks at the same time.

Because of the upcoming little one, my time as choir director is necessarily temporary, but with these new-to-me complaints, and with Teddy's increasing wiggliness, I think it will have to be shorter than I had previously expected.

Please pray that I am making the right decision. (I am sure there will still be complaints about the choir and about Teddy's behavior, myself chief among complainers as among sinners.) Teddy, my Theodore, my gift of God—he must come first. As my husband pointed out today in his focus on godparents: I will be judged for my efforts in bringing those in my care to Christ.

As usual, I wish there were an easy answer. Preferably involving ice cream. However, as in giving birth, the only way out is through, taking all my concentration and energy, for a most worthwhile effort.

O Lady who entered into the Temple today as a small child, the Holy of Holies who are yourself so near to God, intercede for me to your Son.

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