Momnipotent: Introduction and Chapter 1

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First I would like to welcome you to my online reading of Momnipotent: The Not-So-Perfect Woman’s Guide to Catholic Motherhood. I am ready to dive right in and share my thoughts with you. I am sharing my reaction and feelings to the book. I don’t think everywomen has had the same experience as me or will come to the same conclusions as myself. We are all unique in our experiences, but our “feminine genius” unites us.

Introduction:

I have been a mom for 13 years now and for most of that time I have been struggling with my identity as a Catholic woman, wife, and mother. I have all too often uttered the words that Danielle Bean didn’t dare utter, “I am not happy. I hate this life. I want to give up!” During those times I didn’t feel like I had anywhere to turn and I was sinking fast. No mom wants to admit those deep dark feelings, but they come when we are weak and tired. It is not so easy to find comfort in the secular world. Even if you go to church seeking the comfort of another mother, I think we are often intimidated by everyone looking like they have their act together. The good news is, those moments pass and there is such joy and peace to find in motherhood. I am on a motherhood high right now. I feel the joy and peace of being right where God wants me to be. I am so thankful to writers like Danielle Bean who tackle the subject of Motherhood. I am thankful to you who are reading (and hopefully commenting) that we can be a source of comfort to one another during the dark times.

Let’s start with the title of this book, Momnipotence.  Danielle Bean defines Momnipotence as “a special charism that all moms have. Momnipotence is the special array of gifts given by God-lived out in particular through the vocation of motherhood-that blesses our families and the world.” I know I always need reminders like this, that God has given me a special array of gifts to carry out my vocation to motherhood. Yet there are many times when I don’t feel like I am even equipped for the job. I am thankful for the gift of knowing there is a God and He will walk with me on this journey.

Chapter 1

After reading this chapter, I was overwhelmingly struck with gratitude for another woman putting into words how I felt. I am from the sesame street generation. I received the messages that subtly and not so subtly degraded motherhood. I was told that I could be anything I wanted to be. I was told that I could have it all. I believed it all, hook line and sinker!

When I was four years old I decided I would go to Harvard and become a doctor.  I watched Sesame Street as a kid and I am sure that I listened to the song that the author, Danielle Bean, referred to.  All through elementary school, junior high and high school I worked toward my goal of medical school.  During that time I looked at motherhood and marriage as obstacles to accomplishing my goal.  Not only were they obstacles, but it was ingrained in me that they were beneath women and completely oppressive.  I was empowered to never be oppressed by a man.  Never rely on them and be completely self sufficient.

I went off to college with this sense of feminism to conquer the world.  At the same time I left for college, God was calling me to His Church.  As I became more interested in being Catholic, I was sure the Church was backward on all of its “rules” about women (sex before marriage, abortion, the pill, having a large family, gay people, etc).  I started off being the cafeteria Catholic because I knew the Church needed to modernize and would come around to my way of thinking.  I am soooo laughing at myself right now.

 Then the summer before my junior in college I met my husband to be. He was a devout Catholic man struggling himself with the world view of women too. As we dated, there was a welling in me that was calling me to marriage and motherhood.  It was completely biological. At first I took on the mindset that, I could have it all.  I could go to medical school, marry my love and eventually when the time was right have children.  My future husband was supportive, but when I talked to medical students and learned the rigors and time demanded of them, I couldn’t see how I could have it all.  I felt like a failure.  I couldn’t have the happy marriage/children and pursue a medical degree. I had to decide which was more important. I was tormented inside.

 Thankfully for myself, I was seeking God and the love that only He could give.  For the first time in my life I felt God’s divine love and sought to understand the church.  I started to see the beauty of God’s plan for me.  I couldn’t explain it to my family or friends, but I knew that I needed to give up my dream of a doctor and marry my college sweetheart. It meant exploring different jobs and taking on a new role in my life.  People were shocked and stunned, but inside there was peace and joy.

 A year after I graduated college, I married my college sweetheart.  We were only 23.  Many family members thought we were crazy, but we were following God’s plan in our lives. I was working for a pharmaceutical company putting my degree to work. As we talked about when we would be open to starting a family, another biological urge welled in me. I wanted a family. I wanted to kids and somehow  I knew that I needed to be their primary care taker (yikes, a stay at home Mom!!).  I went back and got my teaching credential thinking that a job in teaching would give me the flexibility I needed. (I was still determined to be a career women and take care of my kids.) Yet, the thought of working and being a mother divided me. My husband thought I was crazy and quickly pointed out he didn’t make enough money to support a family. Three years after we got married I was pregnant.  Seeing those 2 lines on the pregnancy test brought so much joy, excitement, and even fear. I looked my husband in the eye and said, I have to be a stay at home mom. He laughed nervously. I prayed.  Two weeks later he got a job that was equal to both of our salaries.

Now, can you imagine me explaining to family and friends that I wouldn’t go back to work after I had the baby.  This was the girl that dreamed of being a doctor, decided on a lesser career of being a teacher (a women’s profession), and now was going to enter the world of stay at home mom. I have had family members tell me that I wasted of time and money going to college. All my potential was wasted in their eyes. I had even felt like I let down the pioneer feminist who paved the way for me to attend college and aspire to be a doctor. I was pulled in two directions. I had the peace of entering motherhood knowing I would be staying home with my child and I felt the disappointment of the modern world that made me feel like I had betrayed all the women who forged the way for me to be a successful, career women.

I would like to report that I was strong enough to shut out the world and sailed off into the sunset happy and fully content with my decision.  Instead, it was been a roller coaster ride of emotions.  Some days I have been happy and content and other days I seconded guessed my decision.  Not many of my friends or family at the time were stay at home moms and it has been lonely and isolating at times. The street I live on was empty during the day and I didn’t have many people to share in my journey. All I had was God’s call and a biological drive to be the best mother in the world. So I set out on the journey searching for the truth about being a mom.

Can’t wait to hear your stories and comments.

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9 thoughts on “Momnipotent: Introduction and Chapter 1

  1. That last paragraph pretty much sums up my current reality: lonely and isolated in a deserted neighborhood full of huge houses whose lights are rarely on. Is anyone even occupying these lovely spaces? We moved to our current home when I was on the way up the career ladder, drawing a salary with a fat 6 figures, and enjoying the daily professional accolades and showers of praise. Our lights were rarely on once upon a time, too, as we were out living the high life.

    Then Lucy came. The my dad died in the blink of an eye. His death forced me to ask some tough questions. I knew then that if I died in a blink of an eye, that my biggest regret would be denying my husband his wife, denying my children their mother, and denying myself an opportunity to fulfill my vocational call.

    It seemed so easy and clear back then, that choosing to do the right thing according to God’s will would bring me great peace. Oh where or where has that great peace gone? Shoot, did I ever experience it? Maybe for a day! 🙂 I’m on the roller coaster still. I want to get off. The second-guessing is straight from the Devil to keep me riding the ride and second-guessing E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G I’m doing. This Lent, I’m praying for guidance on how to combat this spiritual warfare with confidence and strength.

    Thanks for sharing your personal journey. It’s nice to link hearts and hands, digitally at least. Looking forward to you future posts.

    • I am so sorry that you are struggling right now. I get so much inspiration from you that I can’t imagine you struggling. I guess that is why talking and sharing is so important. Yesterday I was on the roller coaster high. Last night 2 of the 4 kids woke up every few hours. The almost 3 year old was tired and yelling at me most of the morning. Then the oldest started with a fever. It was a lonely and trying morning to say the least. Plus a speech therapist came to evaluate the yelling 3 year old so I had to look like I had it together. I am exhausted and at times I wanted to run from the house crying. The common sense side knows that “this to will pass”, but the selfish sides wants to give up and run away.

      I can only imagine your feelings being compounded with the new title of Deacon’s Wife. The devil sure does want to isolate us and use whatever he can to tear us down. Sounds like you a very aware of the his deception. Stay near to the truth and get out of the house and connect, connect and connect (or flip on the computer and cyber connect). I am thankful for you for sharing. Let’s hold each other and all the mothers who are struggling in prayer tonight. God Bless.

  2. It is so refreshing to hear you say that being a mom is not always perfect. I would agree that it is like a roller coaster. There are days when I am so grateful that I’m a stay at home mom and that I can devote my time to my family, then there are days like when money is tight, that I question if I’m doing the right thing. Our life would be more comfortable if we had two incomes instead of one. I guess I haven’t fully embraced my vocation to motherhood, but is it so wrong to want to be successful in the world? To want to give your children material goods or an opportunity for better schools? What if I did work? Would that be so wrong? I truly believe what I am doing now is what God is calling me to do, but the temptation to look for other things is there , the pull if the world is strong.

  3. It is so refreshing to hear you say that being a mom is not always perfect. I would agree that it is like a roller coaster. There are days when I am so grateful that I’m a stay at home mom and that I can devote my time to my family, then there are days like when money is tight, that I question if I’m doing the right thing. Our life would be more comfortable if we had two incomes instead of one. I guess I haven’t fully embraced my vocation to motherhood, but is it so wrong to want to be successful in the world? To want to give your children material goods or an opportunity for better schools? What if I did work? Would that be so wrong? I truly believe what I am doing now is what God is calling me to do, but the temptation to look for other things is there , the pull if the world is strong.

    • The pull of the world is indeed strong! It is hard to discern where we should be. I think the best advice is to constantly evaluate what God is calling you to do. Do you want to work to escape the house (at times very appealing)? Do you just want to make money to indulge yourself (again sounds so nice)? Are you working because your family needs the money? Working outside the house is not evil. It is always how and what we do with our time that concerns God.

      One of my first Catholic blogs that I read was Simcha Fisher. I will never forget her advice. I am paraphrasing, but she said never take a strong position that you can’t change your mind when the circumstances change. Right now staying at home is the right choice. Maybe next year or in 5 years working outside the home will be right.

      Thank you for commenting!

  4. My suggestion to all is to simply enjoy where you are today. Easier said than done. My lesson of the last 10 years is that God has plans for us that we just can not comprehend. My husband and I have done every combination of home and work through planned changes, layoffs, and general crisises. I am now working an executive time job on the opposite side of the country from our home of 25 years. I am thankful for my job as we were both out of work for a while which is fun until the fear takes over. I really miss the precious time I had for 4 years being home with my son and high school daughter. Looking back, I spent way too much time worrying about the past and the future and not being present in the middle of the mess. I don’t think it is about being home or working – it is about finding the grace in being in the present – valuing the tiny moments and being kind to ourselves to take care of our needs as well as our families. To ask for help, to take a nap, bath, walk, a moment to regenerate.

    • Barbara your insight is beautiful. I was just listening to a pod cast the other day from the Jen Fulwiler show and her guest said that “we are never more in union with God then when we stay in the present moment.” It is so true!!! How many times do we waste our time wishing we were somewhere else or doing something else? How many times do we dwell on how we should have done things differently? It does steal our joy away away with worry. This lent I have been trying to stay present in the moment and not think about the future. In order to do that I have had to give up being the ultimate planner/organizer. I have to stop thinking how nice it will be when my kids can potty in their own. I have to stop thinking about how I am going to fit it all in. It’s not easy for me!
      Thank you Barbara for commenting!

  5. Thanks so much for starting a blog community around the book study! I have been attending the meetings at St. Tim’s but I might have to take a break when my (first!) baby is born about a month from now. So it’s awesome to know I have the option of still participating.

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