Welcome to the Momnipotent Book Club! We're reading Danielle Bean’s new book, Momnipotent: The Not-So-Perfect Woman's Guide to Catholic Motherhood.
When Lisa Hendey and Sarah Reinhard were assigning chapters for this Momnipotent book sharing experience, they said that they prayed to the Holy Spirit first and then randomly chose us. We were assigned the chapters before we writers even had the chance to see the book! I eagerly awaited my copy to see what I had been assigned. I ripped open the envelope, turned to my chapters and, well, let’s just say that I could hear the Holy Spirit laughing.
My assignment was Chapter 7: Do What You Are Doing and Chapter 8: Devilish Details. Chapter 7 is all about multi-tasking. All moms do it. In my own world, I’m prone to be having a conversation with my kids while doing household chores, reading a book while watching the preschooler play outside, or answering questions from three different people while trying to help one child with math and another with writing. I’ve also been known to pray in the shower, and while taking a walk, and driving in the car.
Of course, then there are the times when I don’t get to complete any one task because one of my children needs me to do something else. These are the times when the laundry is half-folded, the dishes are half-done, and I managed to take out the trash, but forgot to put another trash bag in the barrel. Oh, and that list of items on the to-do list – those never happened.
I like to think that I’m pretty good at multitasking. I do try to keep my priorities straight and do as much as I can each day. Every day, I ask God to help me accomplish what I should, but sometimes I do get very frustrated because what I want to be doing is not what God has me doing at a particular moment. I have my list of “to-do” items and God has His.
Danielle Bean invites us to reconsider our priorities. She encourages us to ask ourselves whether our vocation requires us to do whatever it is we are doing. If the answer is “yes,” then we are where we need to be. This is something I need to continue to work on, to not only fulfill what is required by my vocation, but to not be resentful of it and wish I was doing something else.
Then there was Chapter 8 which was all about comparing ourselves with others. I have struggled with envy for as long as I can remember; it’s a chronic illness. I say it every time I go to confession. Truly, I should just move into the confessional and be done with it.
Bean talks about the self-loathing that women feel when we come in “on the losing side of a comparative exercise.” Been there. Done that. Daily. I was reading this book, comparing myself to the author, coming up woefully short. Some days I just need to avoid social media because I feel so incredibly worthless after reading everyone’s updates that I want to just curl up in a ball and surrender (I’ve battled depression most of my life – I realize it is my issue, not the issue of the people posting – I’m honestly glad that they have wonderful lives).
Bean reminds us that “It’s not fair to compare our own insides with others’ outsides.” Instead, we need to use our womanly gift of noticing details about others for good. We need to act compassionately towards others and try to help them in their hour of need. I think that we need to remember that other people have crosses we don’t know about. We never get to see the full picture when we see the positive picture others put out for the world. Everyone can use kindness and prayers. And as for my envy and self-loathing? Well, I get to keep fighting it every day. It is part of the cross that God gave me. Maybe you could say a prayer for me? I could use all the help I can get!
To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss
- Do you struggle to prioritize your to-do list? How can you make better choices so that you are better fulfilling the vocation God gave you?
- Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others? Can you make a list of things to be grateful for in your own life? Is there something kind you can do for one of those women you envy?
Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week's reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.
Next week, we'll cover Chapter 9: Sensitive Strength. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Momnipotent Book Club page.
Copyright 2014 Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur
About the Author
Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur has a Master’s Degree in Applied Theology and is the author of The Catholic Baby Name Book, The Power of Forgiveness, and Our Lady of La Salette: A Mother Weeps for Her Children. A mother of three, she is the editor of TodaysCatholicHomeschooling.com as well as a freelance writer and editor.