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 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:
- 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?
- 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?
- 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