St. George
Serbian Orthodox Church
Carmichaels, PA

Being a Mother in the Twenty-First Century

Note - This talk was given by Christina Sivak at the St. George Kolo Slava on August 30, 2009. It speaks to issues young mothers face in today's world. Tina and her husband Phil were married in the St. George Church. Their young daughters were baptized at the St. George Church. Tina is an intensive care nurse at Washington Hospital and a student at the University of Pittsburgh in a Nurse Anesthetist Program.

When Father Rodney asked me to speak on the topic of being a mother in the 21st century, my first thought was I'm sure my feelings are not the same as many other moms out there. So, I thought I would begin by looking online to see how other mom's are feeling. The first article l found was titled "Overwhelming Hell." Let me just say that is not the way I feel.

Now, there are days that I do feel overwhelmed, exhausted, stretched to the limits, and frustrated, and there are the days that I just cry. The Jesus prayer is forever on the lips most days.

I often find myself thinking, in today's modern world with digital cameras, microwave meals, and disposable everything, why don't I have more time than mothers in the past? I just can't figure out what I am doing wrong. Rare are the days that our family doesn't have somewhere to go or a to-do list a mile long. Rare are the days that my husband and I both have the day off together. Family time is limited today.

Multi-tasking is the common theme rather than the exception. When I only have one "free day" a week, I eat my lunch standing so I can unload the dishwasher at the same time. We play the "sock matching game" and shoot the laundry in the washer game, so we can add a little fun to a day packed with work from morning to night.

Being a two income family is not a luxury, but a requirement for most, even for modest life in today's society. In addition to raising children, managing the household, and being a wife, today's mother provides a necessary income. Personally, I planned ahead and was able to take a whole year off work when I had my first child, Anya. We survived on a tight budget, but I wouldn't trade that time for any amount of money. With the addition of number two and a strained economy, staying home is not an option. The dollar just doesn't go as far as it used to. I made the decision to further my education so that I can provide for my children now and in their future. Hopefully, I will be able to retire early so I can watch my own grandchildren. As the role of the mother changes, so does the role of the father. Once the breadwinning disciplinarian, the father is now an income provider, cook, housekeeper, and baby washer. Now, more than ever in the past, do I feel that the mother and father must work together as a parental unit to raise and protect their children. Not a day goes by that I don't thank God that I have a husband that is a devoted father to his children. It is vital that we have the same goals, values, and beliefs. I found out that my husband was Russian Orthodox on our first date and I thought "I'm going to have to marry him." I am grateful that we found St. George, or should I say St. George found us, to help guide us as we raise our family together. It is so very important to me that my children grow up in the church with God as part of their everyday lives.

The world is not as safe as it was in the past. Gone are the days that the kids can go to neighbors for milk and cookies. Fourth graders are selling marijuana in school. Protecting your child seems more difficult and more urgent than it was in the past. I have to admit that I may be slightly overprotective of my children. One of the women I work with told me the other day that whenever she feels she's being overprotective with her children, she asks herself "what would Tina do?" I know I can't shield them forever, but I will as long as I can. One day they will go off on their own, and I can only pray that God will guide them to make the right choices in life and keep them safe.

Years ago it was the more common for people to get married and move in with their parents which provided an extended support system. Now the nuclear family relies on daycare and the grandparents travel across state lines to visit a couple times a year. I am blessed that I have my parents near me and my children. I don't know what I would do without them. I would probably have to work every day that my husband is off and pursuing a graduate degree would be out of the question. I can't go twenty-four hours without talking to mother. I feel sorry for people who don't have a good relationship with the parents or can't see them often. My family means the world to me and I hope to instill that in my children. I thank God everyday for my mother and I can only hope to be such a wonderful mother to my children as she is to me.

Although this century has brought many changes to the mother's role, the ultimate goal of a mother has withstood time. To love and protect their children is what a mother always has done and will continue to do. I appreciate every moment that I have with my children. I just wish there we had more time to enjoy each others' laughter and love.

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