A Word to the Momnipotent Among Us: Interview with Danielle Bean {Momnipotent Book Club}

8

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.

Momnipotent Book Club

I’m so excited about the next book club project that we are about to undertake. I’ve been blessed by my friendship with Danielle Bean for several years. And while this cutie is younger than me, I have always regarded Mrs. Bean as a true “mom mentor.” It’s not that I have an overly idealistic “worship” of Danielle. Rather, having had the chance to read her books, podcast with her, be on her TV show, and most importantly just to spend time with her, I’ve come to know that she is absolutely a “real Catholic mom” just like the rest of us.

Over the next eight weeks, we will all have the opportunity to “hang out” with Danielle and to learn about this concept of being “Momnipotent” — beautifully explained in this video — and what it means for us in our own spiritual lives, families, and  homes. Today, I’m happy to share my recent interview conversation with Danielle. I urge you to join us in the weeks ahead to enjoy her fantastic book Momnipotent: The Not-So-Perfect Woman’s Guide to Catholic Motherhood.  (Find our reading schedule here.)

Danielle Bean

Danielle Bean

Q: Please briefly introduce yourself and your family to our readers.

My husband Dan and I live in New Hampshire and we have eight children, ages 19 to 7. I enjoy my work as a writer and editor, but what I enjoy most of all is being a wife and mom to my family.

Q: Danielle, I have had the great blessing of calling you “boss” and “editor” as well as “friend” for many years. Please share with us how you heard your calling to become a writer and how that vocational call has brought you to this point in your life and career?

I have always enjoyed writing and felt called to it, even if only as a hobby or creative outlet. When I became a mom, though, my priorities shifted and there was little time to pursue outside work of any kind. When my kids were all very small, I stayed home with them and put my writing aside. When I was pregnant with my fifth child, though, I found myself with a lot of time in the evening (Dan was working nights) and decided to spend some time working on my writing.

At first, I had no career goals in mind; I just enjoyed the creative process. But eventually, my personal essays found a regular “home” in places like the National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, and Faith & Family magazine.

My opportunities for work grew from there, but it was always important to my husband and me that we prayerfully discern each new project or job offer before I agreed to take it on. I have always worked from home, and I wanted to be sure that I still put my family first in all things. I have said “no” to some offers that were very tempting because we determined they were not a good fit for us. I have also said “yes” to some opportunities that I later needed to change my mind about because they turned out to be too hard on my family life.

All along it’s been a discerning process, and I have certainly made some mistakes along the way. For the most part, though, I feel that God has guided me in making my work decisions and I feel incredibly blessed to have been given the opportunities I have.

Q: So “Momnipotent”! What a cool title — tell us how you conceived of this project and what it’s all about.

I want to be clear with readers that I do mean the title of this book tongue-in-cheek. I am certainly not “omnipotent” or perfect; none of us are. What I really like about the word is the combiniation of the words “mom” and “potent.” I want readers to focus on and learn about the special strengths God gives each of us in our motherhood.

We women are strong and gifted in unique and important ways. We are meant to use our feminine gifts in the service of our families, our communities, our Church, and ultimately God.

In the book, we talk about specific strengths women have and the ways in we can use them for the greater good, or mis-use them in ways that compromise our femininity and potentially hurt ourselves and our loved ones.

Q: As we get ready to read and enjoy the Momnipotent book as a family study here at CatholicMom.com, what are you hoping that our readers will take away from their time with this book?

What I hope more than anything is that women will learn that they are not alone. I have such a heart for struggling moms because I have been there myself. Motherhood is hard, and the worst feeling in the world sometimes is feeling like you have to put on a happy face and that you are alone in the struggle. We can only benefit gathering together and sharing honestly about the blessings of motherhood, but also the very real challenges of our vocations.

We women need each other. We need the kind of unique encouragement and support we can only get from one another. The themes in Momnipotent are ones that are close to every woman’s heart. Whether it happens in your parish, a home study, or here online, we women need to share openly and honestly about the realities of our faith and family lives.

Q: What are a few “Momnipotent” things you learned about yourself during the creation of this book and the companion video series?

I learned what a blessing other women are to me in my vocation as a mom. In preparation for writing the book and designing the study, I talked to women online, and my friends and sisters in real life, about important things like faith struggles, family size, work balance, emotions, marriage, and communication. Their collective wisdom and their stories of faith and triumph were such an inspiration to me.

Thanks be to God for faithful women who share their stories and their struggles so honestly and so generously! Thanks be to God for the kind of encouragement we can gain from our sisters in Christ who have been in our shoes, survived the worst of it, and lived to tell the tale!

Also, in the process of writing Momnipotent, I learned to lean hard on God’s grace. There were many times when I felt that the entire project was a mess or that I would never find the time I needed to complete it. But in the end, whenever I remembered to approach this project prayerfully and put it all in God’s hands, He never failed to open a window of opportunity for me. I really can “do all things in through Christ who strengthens me” and you can too. The trick is remembering that He is in charge, remaining faithful in our prayer lives, and giving Him the glory.

Q: What advice would you give to women who are new moms or even pregnant now about how they can be a happy and holy Catholic mom?

I think it’s important for moms, and young, vulnerable moms in particular, to know that there is no one right way to do that. Being a “happy and holy Catholic mom” looks different in every woman’s life.

I think one of the most beautiful things about our faith is seeing the many different ways in which God calls women to the vocation of motherhood. My vocation is different from yours, and yours is different from Erin who lives next door, and hers is different from all the women at her parish … and thanks be to God for that!

Q: I think I already know the answer to this, but how can non-Moms and men relate to a book like this?

Momnipotent is a resource for every woman, regardless of her state in life. As St. John Paul II teaches us, all women are called to motherhood, and all women find their dignity and fulfillment through motherhood. That might mean biological motherhood, adoptive motherhood, or spiritual motherhood — all of these are different ways in which we we women can use our feminine gifts of nurturing, compassion, sensitivity, and self-giving love to foster relationships and build human connections. All of these are forms of motherhood, and it is my hope that every woman will benefit from learning more about her feminine gifts in Momnipotent.

Q: Danielle, thank you for the ongoing gift of your friendship and for creating this beautiful resource to underscore the beauty and dignity of our vocation to motherhood! Are there any closing thoughts you would like to share with our readers?

I want to thank you, Lisa, for the opportunity to share Momnipotent with your readers! I also want to encourage any woman out there who is hesitating to participate to give the book club a try. Each individual’s presence and participation is a gift to the others in the group, and it is my prayer that you will bless us with your presence, and give us the opportunity to bless you back, with a fresh dose of inspiration and encouragement in your motherhood!

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. Why are you interested in reading the book Momnipotent: The Not-So-Perfect Woman’s Guide to Catholic Motherhood and what do you hope you will learn in the process?
  2. What issues and concerns “block” your “Momnipotence”?
  3. If you could ask Danielle one question, what would you ask?

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 the Introduction and Chapter 1: What Women Can Be. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Momnipotent Book Club page.

Want a reminder?

You’ll get an email with a link to the newest post. Sign up by filling out the form below with your name and email:


Email Marketing You Can Trust

Don’t worry, we won’t share your email address.

Copyright 2014 Lisa M. Hendey

Share.

About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children’s fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa’s articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

8 Comments

  1. My copy literally just landed on my front porch – thank you, lovely mail carrier!! I can’t wait to dig in.
    My hopes are to learn more about mothering with grace and humor as well as my continued, lifelong pursuit of greater patience!

  2. I’m excited to join this book club – my first online book club! What I appreciate the most about what Danielle says is how she hopes to support the struggling moms – which any mom can relate to. It is helpful knowing we are not alone, God has given us a community to sustain us and send us His Grace.

    Danielle – I do wonder how you balance your writing work/computer time with your family time?

  3. Thanks for your question, Erika! The real answer is that is only with God’s grace that I can do anything at all. We can find peace, balance, and joy in our lives when we remember that one small thing and put everything in His hands first.

    Practically speaking, though, my days are an ever-shifting, constant flow from one kind of work to the next. Working from home is a real blessing, but it can be very challenging too. I don’t stick to a strict schedule, but I find having a general routine with chores, schoolwork, and mealtimes helps me find pockets of time in my day for work. Some days my home and family really need me and they take precedence. I can always catch up on work in the evenings if needed. Other days, I warn everyone that I have a big project or important deadline, I plan frozen pizza for dinner, and everyone is expected to pitch in while I get it done. It makes for some crazy times, but some fun family memories too. 🙂

  4. Danielle, THANK YOU so much for this book! My Catholic women’s study has decided that Momnipotent is our next book, and we will be reading it with the CatholicMom.com crowd. We are all so excited to read it together while gaining the wisdom and insights from you and the other CatholicMom.com women. This book is such a gift!

    Danielle, what does your discernment process look like when you’re faced with a big decision like a writing project? I’d love to hear how you and your husband go about determining what God is asking of you.

    • Thank you so much for your kind encouragement, Catherine! The discernment my husband and I practice is not any kind of fancy process. When we are presented with an important decision, we try to make some quiet time together where we can focus on talking about it. We both add the intention to our daily prayers and our family prayer times, and remain open to hearing what God wants to tell us. Sometimes this is hard — because family life is busy and distracting — but when we make the time to talk it through and don’t rush our decisions, we usually are blessed with confidence we are choosing the right thing.

      One thing that really helps me as a wife is that I pray for the ability to trust my husband’s judgment, especially if we initially disagree about how to handle something (this rarely happens with important decisions). Instead of praying to “get my way” I pray to know God’s will through my husband’s guidance. This helps me find peace, even if I am occasionally disappointed with the outcome at first. One thing I can tell you for sure — there have been times when I have reluctantly accepted Dan’s decision about something only to realize in the long run that he saw potential problems or conflicts much more clearly than I did in the moment. God made men and women different for a reason! Our perspectives are different and complementary. So important to remember the infinite value of that!

  5. Hi Danielle,
    I’m on the “Momnipotent” writing team and thrilled about it! I love the interview here; I feel you were very authentic and approachable, and I appreciate that a lot mom-to-mom.

    If I could ask you any question, though, it would be this: What is your best advice for a novice writer like myself? I really found encouragement in what you wrote about how your writing evolved and that you put your family above any career. It was also beautiful that you mentioned you and your husband always carefully discern what projects you will take on and what you will decline. I feel very similarly, but the position I’m in right now is that I am doing a lot of non-paid, volunteer writing work (which I truly love), but I’d like to eventually “graduate” into some paid writing, as well. I know full well about query letters and agents, but I just honestly don’t have the time to pursue that full force, as I am a mom of two girls with special needs. It can be very draining trying to keep my head above the water at times.

    That being said, I reiterate my question: what would your best piece of wisdom or advice be for an aspiring writer like myself? I am not a journalist, but my strong suit is usually reflections or meditations. I usually just write about my personal experience, not dispensing advice.

    Thanks for launching this awesome book of yours; I read it in 2 days!

  6. I am so excited to join my first online book club. I am going to be a first time mother and am very excited. I know there will be struggles and I know it won’t be easy. But God has me right where I need to be. Looking forward to reading this book. Thank you Danielle Bean!

  7. I hope to find a better balance between giving to my family and taking care if myself. Burnout and I go hand in hand as if late. 🙂

Leave A Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.