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family: mother…

It’s a little embarrassing that I’m giddy about having ordered some icons.

I feel as though I’m waiting for family to arrive from out of town. I’ll tell you that I ordered them from a bookshop I like a whole lot called Eighth Day Books because I’m all about supporting the independent spirit. The hard part is waiting. I’m so conditioned by my internet addicition and big box store mentality that I get anxious knowing it will take a few weeks for my icon family to arrive.

The icon I am most expectant for is the Theotokos of Vladimir. This is the icon I sit next to at Liturgy. Growing up Catholic I did not feel a sense of connection with the mother of God, frankly. Even as a mother myself I did not even consider turning to her example or asking her help. It simply never occurred to me. It was probably no accident that we ended up near one another that first Vespers service. She sits near the back as I do. This particular icon strikes me most because in it, Jesus has his face to her cheek, a gesture I recognize from my own life.

My youngest still does this although the other three are less likely to press into me like this. It brings up a lot of emotion when I look at her. I see the tenderness and value that…in the next breath I admit I feel regret as well. I never envisioned myself as someone who’d miss the “baby/toddler/early years” of my children. I judge myself to be a mother who is better with the 8 years and up crowd.

It isn’t that I am not tender with them, touch is just not my love language, I suppose. I am more about the words we speak to each other. I love the conversation.

And then I realize the absence of this touch when I look at this icon…and I recognize the peace and also the fatigue in her face…and the devotion, the utter love in the face of the Christ child.

And I’m taken out…this is so much my struggle, one I could never have articulated as fully as this one icon speaks it. It’s in this that I begin to truly understand the purpose of the veneration of icons.

There’s more here, I reckon. There’s much more ahead than I anticipated and it may yet be harder than I expected.

#parenting #orthodoxy #motherhood #icons #veneration #theotokosofvladimir