Do What You Are Doing and Devilish Details: Chapters 7 & 8 {Momnipotent Book Club}

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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 Lisa Hendey and Sarah Reinhard were assigning chapters for this Momnipotent book sharing experience, they said that they prayed to the Holy Spirit first and then randomly chose us. We were assigned the chapters before we writers even had the chance to see the book! I eagerly awaited my copy to see what I had been assigned. I ripped open the envelope, turned to my chapters and, well, let’s just say that I could hear the Holy Spirit laughing.

My assignment was Chapter 7: Do What You Are Doing and Chapter 8: Devilish Details. Chapter 7 is all about multi-tasking. All moms do it. In my own world, I’m prone to be having a conversation with my kids while doing household chores, reading a book while watching the preschooler play outside, or answering questions from three different people while trying to help one child with math and another with writing. I’ve also been known to pray in the shower, and while taking a walk, and driving in the car.

Of course, then there are the times when I don’t get to complete any one task because one of my children needs me to do something else. These are the times when the laundry is half-folded, the dishes are half-done, and I managed to take out the trash, but forgot to put another trash bag in the barrel. Oh, and that list of items on the to-do list – those never happened.

I like to think that I’m pretty good at multitasking. I do try to keep my priorities straight and do as much as I can each day. Every day, I ask God to help me accomplish what I should, but sometimes I do get very frustrated because what I want to be doing is not what God has me doing at a particular moment. I have my list of “to-do” items and God has His.

Danielle Bean invites us to reconsider our priorities. She encourages us to ask ourselves whether our vocation requires us to do whatever it is we are doing. If the answer is “yes,” then we are where we need to be. This is something I need to continue to work on, to not only fulfill what is required by my vocation, but to not be resentful of it and wish I was doing something else.

Then there was Chapter 8 which was all about comparing ourselves with others. I have struggled with envy for as long as I can remember; it’s a chronic illness. I say it every time I go to confession. Truly, I should just move into the confessional and be done with it.

Bean talks about the self-loathing that women feel when we come in “on the losing side of a comparative exercise.” Been there. Done that. Daily. I was reading this book, comparing myself to the author, coming up woefully short. Some days I just need to avoid social media because I feel so incredibly worthless after reading everyone’s updates that I want to just curl up in a ball and surrender (I’ve battled depression most of my life – I realize it is my issue, not the issue of the people posting – I’m honestly glad that they have wonderful lives).

Bean reminds us that “It’s not fair to compare our own insides with others’ outsides.” Instead, we need to use our womanly gift of noticing details about others for good. We need to act compassionately towards others and try to help them in their hour of need. I think that we need to remember that other people have crosses we don’t know about. We never get to see the full picture when we see the positive picture others put out for the world. Everyone can use kindness and prayers. And as for my envy and self-loathing? Well, I get to keep fighting it every day. It is part of the cross that God gave me. Maybe you could say a prayer for me? I could use all the help I can get!

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss

  1. Do you struggle to prioritize your to-do list? How can you make better choices so that you are better fulfilling the vocation God gave you?
  2. Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others? Can you make a list of things to be grateful for in your own life? Is there something kind you can do for one of those women you envy?

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 9: Sensitive Strength. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Momnipotent Book Club page.

Copyright 2014 Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

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About Author

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur is a life-long Roman Catholic, homeschooling mom of two boys and an adopted young girl. The editor of Today’s Catholic Homeschooling, she is also the author of “The Catholic Baby Name Book” and “Letters to Mary from a Young Mother,” and has a Master’s Degree in Applied Theology. She blogs at http://spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com

4 Comments

  1. I enjoyed the whole book but the chapter about doing what you are doing has stuck with me the most. Like you, I try to do all at once but usually end up accomplishing nothing.
    Especially with smart phones, it’s so easy to “just check that one thing”, or quickly reply to that “one email” while I put the laundry in. But that “one thing” easily turns into more and soon I’ve used all my time using my phone instead of getting the laundry done. I think all these tools are good, if used prudently.
    Whenever I find myself getting overwhelmed with everything I’m trying to do I repeat Danielle’s saying, “Age quod Agis,” – do what you are doing. It helps me put down the unnecessary distractions and refocus on what I need to do in that moment.

  2. I struggle with too much multi-tasking and envy as much as the next woman. In fact, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit when I began this book, I was distracted by what I think in large part was a case of envy.

    Danielle Bean is a talented writer, and I’ve followed her blog and then Faith and Family Live, Catholic Digest, etc. for a decade. From everything I know, she is a wonderful, Catholic woman. Her experiences have probably uniquely qualified her to write this book.

    And yet as I was reading affirmation that motherhood is “enough,” I keep thinking, “Yeah, it’s all good and true that being a mom is enough, but the author has published four books, edited two national magazines, had a thriving blog, co-hosts a television program, is a regular guest on Catholic radio, and runs a business mentoring writers. Oh, and she’s got twice as many kids as me, and she home schools them. Plus she makes her own bread and pie crusts!”

    I wrestled with that for a while hoping that somehow it would be addressed later in the book, and I guess in the last chapter it was. I need to keep my eyes on my own paper and what God wants from ME.

  3. Patrice, first of all, that is so cool as to how the authors were selected! I honestly didn’t know that until I read your post. Second, I do admit there is a guilt I feel on a regular basis in not knowing I am using my time wisely and prudently, if I am prioritizing my tasks and to-do lists according to God’s will. Thank you for this reminder so much!

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