Beautiful Me, Beautiful You: Chapter 2 {Momnipotent Book Club}


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

When I read books, I am a notorious underliner.  When I really like something, I tend to triple underline it and star it.  When I read chapter 2 of Momnipotent, “Beautiful Me, Beautiful You,” I think I underlined or starred something in every paragraph.  I have to ask: Danielle, were you peering into my soul when you wrote chapter 2?

Like Danielle, I am guilty of letting my glory years pass me by.  After reading chapter 2, I am more determined than ever to start embracing beauty–especially during this not-so-glamorous time of sleep deprivation, teething, and potty-training.  I am so grateful to Danielle for reminding us young mamas that beauty is not a bad thing, but that it is a “sacred duty.”  After all, we are made in the image and likeness of God Himself, so we ought to reflect what is true, good, and beautiful to the world.  In fact, when we get this beauty thing right, it can be “an ‘icon’ that points us toward heaven and gives us a glimpse of God.”

Unfortunately, beauty tends to be the first thing to go when I enter into mommy survival mode or feel like throwing myself a grand ol’ pity party.  When I don’t give beauty precedence in my life, it shows.  The days when I put myself together before the kids wake up tend to go better than the days when I throw on sweatpants and skip the mascara.  When I am put together before the kids wake up, I’m more productive, patient, and energetic.  God seems to multiply my time on those days!  On the other hand, when I neglect my appearance in exchange for some extra sleep, I feel like I’m in what I call “fire drill mode” until the kids’ nap time.  Instead of facing the day, I’m putting out fires and feel like I’m drowning by mid-morning.

In addition to my beauty regimen affecting how I feel, it affects my family.  Danielle is right on when she writes, “we are teaching the next generation of Catholic women to understand their full dignity and worth.”  The kids, especially our daughter, notice when I take care of myself.  Just like Danielle’s daughter, our Jane adores watching me get dolled up for special occasions and takes special notice when I style my hair or wear something new.  Conversely, they take note when I skip the beauty regimen.  “Mama, your hair is kinda crazy today!”  At least they don’t struggle with honesty!

The trouble for me (and most mothers of young children) is figuring out how to fit in all of the things that make me feel beautiful.  Danielle lists a few of the big things such as: nutritious diet, exercise, haircut, and flattering clothing.  I’m finally to the point where I have the menu planning down, I treat myself to sale clothing items when I find flattering pieces, and I’m getting better about  making regular hair appointments.

My biggest struggle was figuring out the logistics of exercise, showering, and getting ready with three little ones.  I had a breakthrough last week when I shared my struggles with my sister.  She helped me to pinpoint the problems, switch things around, and come up with a new schedule that is working for our family.  The changes were so simple, but they are having a big impact on the day-to-day around here.

For example, I started showering at night instead of the morning.  Just a few of the bonuses are: it frees up my morning time for uninterrupted personal prayer, I’m more inclined to get dirty playing with the kids, an evening shower is so relaxing at the end of the day, and I feel nice and clean for myself and my husband when we go to bed.  Instead of exercising first thing in the morning, I moved my gym time to the kids’ witching hour after their afternoon nap.  Instead of whining and fighting at home, they are happily playing with their buddies in the childcare room for an hour, and I am simultaneously getting a break while I take care of my body.  I can throw on some clean clothes when we get home, finish making the dinner I had prepped during their naps, and feel like I have my second wind going in to the evening.  Combined, all of these things add up to me feeling like a good, beautiful wife and mother.

As with everything, I have to make sure I am doing everything in moderation.  Otherwise, the delicate balance we have going will all fall apart.  So long as I’m not making gods out of the material things that help me to feel beautiful make our home run smoothly, that “sacred duty” to reflect God’s perfect beauty to the world remains intact.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. Are you missing out on your “glory years” and using motherhood as an excuse to neglect your appearance?  What is one step you can take to start reclaiming your glory years today?
  2. My sister helped me to rework our daily schedule so that I could find greater balance.  Do you have a close friend who can do the same for you?  What’s working, and what’s not?
  3. Consider your attachment to material goods and the power they have over you.  How can you increase your trust in God and release yourself from the attachment to material goods?

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 3: Nothing More Than Feelings. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Momnipotent Book Club page.

Copyright 2014 Catherine Boucher


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  1. I couldn’t agree more with Danielle’s point about getting up and ready to face the day before my day with my kids starts. Whenever I do that, I inevitably end up feeling more prepared, more productive and even (gasp) more patient. On those mornings when one of more of my little darlings outsmarts me and shows up raring to go extra early, I find myself feeling off-balance and struggling to catch up. It seem counterintuitive, but getting up earlier and getting my shower and five minutes of peace in my head before I launch into “mommy mode” makes me feel more rested than getting those extra few minutes of sleep.
    Also, I treated myself to an overdue trip to the salon for a hair cut and color – something pretty small has had long lasting effects of making me feel quite a bit prettier than I had been feeling. And, right or not, that puts a little pep in my step that my whole family benefits from. 🙂

  2. I agree with Marilee, getting up earlier used to sound awful and impossible – why would I ever choose to get up earlier than I already have to? Yet, when I do get up before everyone (and I still protest and hit the snooze a dozen times) I feel much more prepared to handle everyone…not perfect but just a little bit better.

    As far as taking the time to take care of ourselves, this was one of my favorite points from chapter 2:
    “I am sorry, ladies, but we need to talk about the ratty yoga pants…” That made me chuckle and wonder if non-ratty yoga pants – like the flattering type, are ok? 😉 Kidding…kind of. I agree, wearing ratty sweatpants that you may or not have worn as PJs the night before, may not be the best way to take care of your appearance. On the other hand, there were many days toward the end of my pregnancies when those were the only pants I could wear comfortably so, I guess yoga pants can have their place in certain seasons and situations of life.

    Anyway, she goes on to say:
    “Motherhood is not an excuse to neglect our appearance. There is no virtue in dowdiness. In fact, because we are teaching the next generation of Catholic women to understand their full dignity and worth , it is up to us to take good care of ourselves.”

    Good point. While we don’t want to be vain and caught up in our appearances too much, we also don’t want to give the impression that being a Catholic mother means being frumpy. I struggle with this a lot though since I have a hard time finding clothes that are both flattering and comfortable for all the “field work” I do (chasing kids around, etc.)

    Where do most people shop for good quality clothes that flatter but aren’t too expensive?

    • I am definitely a fan of the “non-ratty” yoga pants! Like you said, especially after being pregnant, they hold me in and make me feel GOOD about myself…so I would say they are approved ;). I go for the stretchy material that doesn’t fade, so in my mind, they stay looking nicely longer than faded cotton pants.

      I think the effort that we put forth through any given occasion shows the respect that we have for it. So whether it be church, work, or staying home, we are showing others how we regard it by how we look.

      I probably get a majority of my clothes from Old Navy, Gap, and Target (for the everyday wear clothes). I like to peruse online and keep items in my “bag” until it goes on sale or a coupon code comes out (I can almost always get 30-35% off, and even more if it is combined with a sale). And though pricey, some of my favorite tops are Anthropologie (definitely on sale, usually around $30)…They have super cute glorified t-shirts that I can wash and wear/not worry about drool and mess, but I feel fashionable too. J Crew factory has some great sales at the end of the season as well (think sale + extra 50% off!). If you shop smart, you can get new, quality items at Target prices! And even if I’m wearing a t-shirt, if it’s more fitted, I feel much better than something oversized and boxy.

  3. This was a fabulous chapter. (I’m going to go out on a limb and guess all of them will be like this!) As the mother of soon to be 7 children, ranging from 14 year old 9th grader to an 18 month old tazmanian toddler (I think she could give that character a literal run for his spinning money…), I find it refreshing to 1) see I’m not the only one going through the struggles everywhere. 2)seeing and feeling as though my “glory” years were also spent wiping noses, and battling little people. At the time I was in them, it seemed to drag for eternity and I remember one Christmas my parents bought me a REAL leather jacket. A beautiful, where on earth would I EVER wear this, jacket and I laughed and politely asked my mom if she minded that I return it because it was so “impractical.” Looking back, perhaps I should have kept it, for that date night that eventually happened several years later, but instead, I returned it and probably spent the money on more “practical” items like appropriate ‘safe to spit up on’ clothing. I also now find, as I approach my “new” glory years (soon to be 42) that I really try to consciously avoid the tabloid lines (Wegmans has a “tabloid/kid friendly check out line) and concentrate on making myself look beautiful not only as an example to my five girls, but to my husband and son especially. I try not to be vain, sometimes I just FEEL better with mascara and lipstick on!!! But I also make it a point to explain to my daughters, that even make up free is super beautiful and all natural is exactly how God created us originally- (maybeline certainly wasn’t pasted on Eve’s face!!!) So thank you for this insight. and to the moms of super young children- it’s sometimes so, so, sooooo hard to find your beauty in the midst of all the struggles, but I promise, if you do, you will feel amazing. And that time really does fly so very fast. Before you know it, there’s a 5’11” almost 15 year old teenage daughter complementing you in your maternity outfit and you just smile and say, ‘thank you, my love!’ Even if you feel old, lumpy, and gross!!!!!! 🙂

  4. When I read this chapter, I did see myself in some of what Danielle wrote. But I have to say, I am not one who does her hair or makeup on a daily basis. I am a jeans and sweatshirt kind of gal, and I’m unashamed of that. Hygiene is a different story. I have to shower daily, and I brush my teeth and wash my face religiously. I hate being stinky and sweaty. So I feel that, if I am taking good care of my hygiene and my husband likes my appearance au natural, why do I need to do my hair and fuss with makeup every day? Sometimes doing these things regularly takes at least 30 extra minutes for me, and it tends to instigate vanity in me, as well. I’d rather be myself and be proud of it than try to doll myself up every single day.

  5. I enjoyed getting to read everyone’s comments, thank you for your insight! Like others, I too struggle to find the time to “beautify” each day, but the chapter and comments gives me encouragement and a bit of a push to try a little harder. After my third daughter, I developed a diastasis (where my stomach muscles ripped, causing an odd shaped bulging belly). I often think of it as disfiguring and get angry as it is such a hard thing to fix. However, the reading serves as a good reminder to appreciate and love the beauty that God has blessed us with, and perhaps to replace each negative thought with one of gratitude. A thankful heart is a more peaceful heart, right?

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