I received this book with eager expectation, mainly because the title alone intrigued me: Momnipotent. Could it be possible that author Danielle Bean was suggesting that mothers are all-powerful like Almighty God? Certainly not. But the play on words was unmistakeable and appropriate, especially as I delved further into each chapter. Everything was written to appeal to the mom who is overwhelmed, pensive, stay-at-home or working outside the home, moms of two kids or perhaps eight, moms who are organized and those less so.
The book’s message was a universal appeal to motherhood.
Engendered in the pages were anecdotal snippets from Bean’s experience as a mother of eight, which draws the reader to attention and even a bit of knowing laughter. In one sense, the book is an easy read and in another way it is not; it is easy, because it is so well written, so poignant and succinct without being too lofty or intellectual. At the same time, Bean asks some very important rhetorical questions of the reader, questions that should leave every mom feeling both empowered and yet ready for self-reflection and potential change.
To me, this defines a good book, and not just a good book, but one that stands apart from most of the rest of literary works being published these days as being genuine, sincere, and authentically Catholic.
Naturally, a mom who is not Catholic would still derive much personal satisfaction from reading this book; but as a Catholic, I feel that Bean’s perspective enriches my own and nurtures my particular type of motherhood that is directly related to my faith.
I often feel I’m left on the sidelines when I read books about motherhood, even well-intentioned books that do an excellent job of explaining the ups and downs that most mothers experience. But because I am a mother of two children with special needs, I often cannot relate to most other moms regarding our primary vocation. Bean’s book was different. Something in Momnipotent spoke deeply to me and left me feeling as if I not only relate to other mothers, but that I am one of them, too.
That is the message of universality that this book speaks. It is written from the heart but in a mutually challenging fashion: Bean does not exclude herself from continual growth in the area of motherhood. She journeys with the reader, encouraging anything other than stagnancy and mediocrity. She encourages vitality, for us to own our motherhood as a proud aspect of our identity.
She is even so bold as to claim that all women are called to motherhood.
And I think she is right. Certainly not all women are called to biological or even adoptive motherhood, but that doesn’t exclude them from the innate ability to nurture and care for others. Bean acknowledges that every woman is gifted in her femininity, and all women should be confident that they are, indeed, called to motherhood in some way.
This, too, is a universal but also specifically Catholic message, which adds to the rich quality of the content. Bean uses depth of thought and reflection so well that it doesn’t leave the reader feeling emotionally or mentally exhausted, but rather enlivened and emboldened to discover what her specific call to motherhood truly is.
For me, it is living out my primary vocation as mom to Felicity and Sarah. But beyond that, it is a call for me to care for my elderly neighbors, convalescing friends and even lending a listening ear to the ‘tween girls who stop by to visit Sarah on a rare occasion. Yes, they end up talking more about school, music, and hair rather than spending quality time with Sarah. But I realize it’s just the way females are wired: to talk, to reflect, to listen, to share.
And that is the universal call to motherhood that all women share. That is what unites us at the core of our being. And that is, in essence, what Momnipotent entails in its fresh-yet-timeless message.
Copyright 2014 Jeannie Ewing