Thursday, March 22, 2007

Danielle Bean: Mom to Mom, Day to Day

If you don’t know Danielle Bean’s writing, you might not know what to expect from a book with the subtitle, “Advice and Support for Catholic Living.”

You might pick it up thinking, “Who is this woman to give me advice? Has she lived so long and so perfectly that she can dish up the goods on my life when she doesn’t even know me?”

Then, you might open it, and read Danielle’s preface, and find out that she is the kind of woman to pick up an advice book (you know the kind I mean: one with a rigid prescription for how to eat, drink, live, marry, parent, sleep, breathe and forego sugar) and think:

Who does this woman think she is? I find myself furiously thinking as I flip to the back cover to read the author’s bio. Is her family really so perfect? Doesn’t her husband ever leave his balled-up, smelly socks on the bedroom floor and she snaps at him about it? Don’t her kids ever argue about who’s looking at whom and who got the last cookie last time and who got it the time before that and ….
And, you might next think, “Hey! I love her! She’s just like me!”

And, you’d be right (unless you’re the author of the aforementioned book that initially raised Danielle’s ire, in which case, I don’t even want to know you.)

Which is why you’ll love this book and this author. She’s so very real. I want her to live next door to me and come over for lots and lots of coffee while we ignore our children and catch up with each other. Because once in awhile, that’s what real mothers do.

What's in this book? Let me start by telling you what's not in it.

Danielle Bean will not advise you to rise every morning at four a.m. in order to squeeze in that bit of extra prayer time that you need (but, she does have excellent advice on prayer and lovely prayers at the end of each section.) She will not try to convince you that you can whip up gourmet meals six nights out of seven without breaking a sweat (but, she does know how meal planning can keep you sane.) She will not tell you how to create the perfect craft, such as carving bath toys out of soap, thus saving money and mess (but she will offer twelve months' worth of real ideas for observing the liturgical calendar with your kids.)

In other words, what Danielle Bean will give you is a bunch of truths. Truths about how the little things can pile up and make even the best of moms yell at little people (but she'll remind you that you’re not alone) ; about how marriage takes work (but is still the best thing we humans have got going) ; about how boring it can sometimes be to stay home (and yet how ultimately fulfilling and holy it is.) She will talk to you, as if you were having lots and lots of coffee together, about how to get the upper hand on the housework, how to live your faith with your kids, and about how prayer time really works at her house.

Because this is what Danielle Bean is about: striving for the very-real sacred in the midst of the very-real everyday. It’s all connected: the yelling, the commitment, the smelly socks, the prayers, the boredom, the faith, the toilet-scrubbing, the journey to heaven. We moms don’t get to travel a pristine path to holiness. Ours is peppered with dirty diapers, cranky kids, blown fuses and fishsticks. It’s a path that evokes an “Eeewww!” from many. It’s not pretty. And yet, it is the most exquisitely beautiful thing in the world.

Danielle Bean has seen that paradox, as genuine and strange as The Event it mirrors. Motherhood is a kind of crucifixion, a dying to self. From suffering and death come Resurrection. And from the struggles of motherhood joy, beauty and new life emerge.

That’s what Danielle Bean knows, and it's what she’ll tell you in this book: That it’s hard. That there are ideas that will help you. Here they are. Take them and use them. And, along the way, let your vocation transform you.

This isn’t “advice.” This is friendship of the very best sort. Because that’s what moms do. Mom to mom, we take care of each other.

Let this book take care of you for awhile.

Visit Danielle Bean's website, or Pauline Books for information on how to order.


Diane said...

Karen, you are so amazing. This is the most beautiful review of Danielle's new book that I've read (and there have been many excellent ones). I think it's time for you to write a book.

Oh, and if I ever get around to writing mine, will you please, pretty please, write a review for me?

Love you.

Denise said...

"Motherhood is a kind of crucifixion, a dying to self. From suffering and death come Resurrection. And from the struggles of motherhood joy, beauty and new life emerge."

WOW! That is the most perfect definition of motherhood I've ever read. Thank you for sharing your amazing review for the book. Your post brought tears to my eyes--

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle said...


What a truly magnificent review of Danielle Bean's magnificent new book!

Your words always inspire. I can't wait until I can write a review for your book!

God bless and love, Donna

Alice said...

This is an awesome review, Karen. You are tremendous!

Karen E. said...

Wow, you are all waaaaay too nice to me. Will you *all* come over for lots and lots of coffee? :-)

Jenn Miller said...

Karen, Great review. You pulled me in with your comments about one child. Would this book be a good fit for a mom of one, too?