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.
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.)
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:
- 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?
- What issues and concerns “block” your “Momnipotence”?
- 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.
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Copyright 2014 Lisa M. Hendey