I was trying to remember earlier today when the lovely and talented Donna-Maria Cooper O'Boyle first came into my life. I know her bestselling Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers landed on my bookshelf in 2005, and that our friendship truly began to blossom around 2008. I know that since I first read her work and in the years since, Donna-Marie has been for me a mentor and a role model. I know that even before we had the pleasure of meeting, dining and praying with each other in person, Donna-Marie's sweet voice has been a fixture in my heart, encouraging me along my daily path of motherhood.
I often look at my friend Donna-Marie and wonder how she so successfully, and more importantly so gracefully, "does it all". People ask all the time how I balance the joys and pressures of writing, blogging, speaking, travel while preserving my faith life and giving my best to my family. One of my secrets is surrounding myself with prayer warriors like Donna-Marie. I never doubt that on a moment's notice, I can drop my sweet friend a note and that she will immediately take my intentions to prayer. This humble woman who has carried on a personal correspondence with a saint is never too busy to give her heart to those around her. Some of her most eloquent writing has been born out of those simple and yet profound moments of grace that most people miss in life.
Although she does her very best to go out and speak to groups and to share her ministry online, on television and on the radio, most of our readers will likely never have the chance to meet Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle in person. But unlike many other authors' work, Donna-Marie's writing beautifully echoes the person she is in the "real world". To read her books is to have the feeling that a trusted friend is alongside you, coaxing you, praying for you, and encouraging you. I'm so happy to share my recent conversation with my dear friend Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle, and I encourage you to visit her website and to treat yourself to her work today.
Q: Donna-Marie, congratulations on the publication of yet another wonderful book, Embracing Motherhood, and on all of the success you've had with your work lately. Please take a moment to briefly introduce yourself and your family to our readers.
Donna-Marie: Thank you very much, Lisa. First of all, I am a Catholic wife and mother of five on earth and three in heaven. I enjoy nature, the arts, and God’s beautiful Creation! I live way out in the back woods of Connecticut (with the bears!) and I travel the country to meet up with my readership when speaking at conferences, giving retreats, and doing book signings. I am a catechist, a speaker, and an author of ten Catholic books (with 2 forthcoming) and I host an EWTN TV show called “Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms.” I created the show to provide inspiration and encouragement for moms. I thoroughly enjoy my motherhood and am no stranger to the deepest of joys and the arduous challenges that come with the territory. Because I am, I try to pass on as much encouragement as I can to Moms.
Q: Please give us an overview of Embracing Motherhood. What is the main focus of the book, and how does this book differ from others you've written on the topics of motherhood and family life?
Donna-Marie: Embracing Motherhood is, first of all, not a book for the perfect Catholic family (is there such a thing?). The main focus of the book is to encourage, affirm, and bring Catholic mothers and grandmothers hope and inspiration in no matter what family situation they are in. And, don’t let the book cover fool you! It’s beautiful, but the book is not only about tiny infants. Rather it speaks about kids of all ages.
Since most mother's lives are typically filled to the brim with the care of their household and family as well as work outside the home, they may seldom have the opportunity to reflect on their lives as mothers and how they are to serve God through their vocation of love. Yet, no matter how much time or inclination a woman has to learn more about becoming a better mother or how to better deal with everything that motherhood entails, the fact remains that, since the beginning of time, motherhood is a vocation filled with the deepest blessings and joys, interwoven with sorrows and challenges. It is a vocation in which a mother is intimately meshed with the human beings who have been entrusted to her care. In Embracing Motherhood, I give mothers the chance to reflect upon their holy vocation and to discover many reasons to revel in it.
This book differs from the other motherhood books I have written in that in Embracing Motherhood I have included many more issues which today’s mothers need to be aware of, and speak of the struggles they face, along with including many tips, advice and the Catholic “tools” to handle the situations. There’s a whole chapter dedicated to the “really difficult stuff” and I’ve included many statistics and research in this book.
You can see a book trailer of Embracing Motherhood at my website www.donnacooperoboyle.com and the book is also available in audio (narrated by me) and available at my website along with all of my books.
Q: Can you offer a few basic "survival strategies" for those moms who are in the trenches of raising little ones?
Donna-Marie: Sure, Lisa. Most importantly, I’d like to say to them, “You are never alone.” Many times the moms in the trenches may feel very alone in dealing with the demands of the family and the household—usually exhausted from sleepless nights and long days of “never a dull moment!” It may appear that dishes, demands, and diapers are all that her life is about. Apart from the community in the care of her family, she may feel isolated. But, in truth, God is always with her and throughout her busy days she can unite her prayers to the great big Church while she is in her little domestic church at home.
As well, there are not too many pats on the back at home for mom, right? She could begin to feel that her work in the home is not very significant or she may even feel unappreciated when in fact, she is raising little saints to heaven—which is really quite amazing!
I like to affirm mothers in their holy vocation—in essence, to tell them, “Hang in there, Moms! You’re doing an incredible job mothering your family. Don’t listen to the culture, listen to God and follow your heart!”
Either in person or through the Internet, Moms can surround themselves with like-minded mothers who understand their desire to raise the children on the straight and narrow and the need to protect them from the dangers of the culture. By doing so, mothers can enjoy Catholic and Christian camaraderie as well as not feel alone.
Q: You and I share the joy of being moms to older children. How does your mothering vocation change, evolve and develop as your children age? What are some of the unique joys and challenges of parenting older children?
Donna-Marie: My biggest challenge in raising older children is in letting them go! It’s always a bittersweet moment when each one walks out the front door and on to college or their own apartment. I do know though that they need to spread their wings. Mothers always pray and hope that the firm foundation of prayer and good values they’ve laid down in the family will remain in their children’s lives forever.
No matter how old my children get, I am still very involved in their lives. I love how we all stay in touch with one another—sometimes it’s in sending a note or photo of something new in their life through a text message, or communicating through phone calls, emails, and getting together through Skype when we’re on opposite sides of the world. Any chances we get, we gather together, celebrate an occasion, go for a walk, cook a meal together, and laugh about funny family memories.
A mother’s vocation naturally evolves and changes as her children grow. I’ve always said that in a sense, we grow along with them. As they mature, we still guide them and are right there ready to offer advice when it’s appropriate, but we sort of learn “the dance”—when to say something and when to keep quiet and allow them to make their own decisions.
Q: Please share a bit with us about your EWTN work and how the television segments you've done compliment Embracing Motherhood.
Donna-Marie: As I briefly mentioned above, I created a show which I host at EWTN called, “Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms” as short bursts of inspiration—each about 5 minutes long to offer encouragement, affirmation, Church teaching, guidance, and prayer. Right now there are fifty segments on various domestic church topics. They cover such things as carving out times for prayer, teaching our family to pray, the pain of miscarriage and how to respond to a mother who has miscarried, how to create a prayer table or prayer corner in the domestic church, how to deal with the demands of society and the craziness of our ungodly culture, dealing with demands for perfection, and much more. The first 25 segments have been produced on a DVD and is available from my website as well as from EWTN’s Religious Catalogue. The next 25 segments will air in the near future and will also be available on a DVD.
Q: What's next for you career wise and on the family front?
Donna-Marie: Good question, Lisa! God only knows for sure! But I do know of a couple of things. I have begun two new radio shows. One is called, “A Cup of Tea with Donna-Marie” and one is “Food for the Family’s Soul.” More information about them is available on my website (www.donnacooperoboyle.com). I have a new book coming out this fall published by Ave Maria Press titled, Rooted in Love: Our Calling as Catholic Women. This book speaks to all Catholic and Christian women: single, married, mothers, and consecrated religious. I have another book coming out in the spring, which is geared to Catholic mothers.
I am currently working on a very exciting television project, which I will share as soon as I am able to. Stay tuned!
What’s new with my family? Well, I’m so excited that my youngest, Mary-Catherine will be coming home from studying abroad (in Paris and Rome) very soon. I just hope that in my excitement, I don’t tackle her when I see her at the airport!
My oldest, Justin will celebrate his first wedding anniversary this summer. We’ll hopefully all find many occasions to gather together at the house to create new memories as we reminisce our older ones.
Q: Are there any additional thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?
I hope they’ll feel free to visit my website: www.donnacooperoboyle.com and check it out. I have some You Tube videos of some of my shows there, links to many of my radio shows, as well as all of my books. In addition, one can get to any of my blogs through my website. I hope they will visit me there too. I’m also on Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/donnacooperoboyle and have a “fan” page there: https://www.facebook.com/donnacooperoboylefanpage as well as on Twitter.
Readers can also subscribe to my email newsletter through my website or blogs if they’d like. In it, I update with news and inspiration—food for the journey.
Thank you very much for this interview, Lisa. Thank you for all you do at Catholic Mom and beyond to help mothers. God bless you and yours!
Visit Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle at www.donnacooperoboyle.com.
Copyright 2012 Lisa M. Hendey
About the Author
Lisa M. Hendey is the founder of CatholicMom.com, a bestselling author and an international speaker. A frequent radio and television guest, Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and communications. Visit Lisa at LisaHendey.com or on social media @LisaHendey for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish, school or organization. Visit Lisa's author page on Amazon.com.