Imperfect Catholic Moms Unite
Today I have the great pleasure of sharing with you Good Enough Is Good Enough: Confessions Of An Imperfect Catholic Mom by Colleen Dugan out now from Ave Maria Press. I’ve long been a Colleen Dugan fangirl, so being asked to take part in the Good Enough is Good Enough Book Launch Blog Tour is really quite a joy.
I’ve enjoyed reading all the other reviews, interviews and blogs thoughts about her amazing new book. This struggle of perfection in parenting and the feeling of failure has long been a part of my own momma-thought process. Just knowing I wasn’t alone made this book worth the read. However, I took away much more than that I learn not only am I not the only one, but realized these feelings seem to be pretty normal. That just my desire to center my family’s life on Christ, even in the most imperfect way, will still bear fruit. All we can offer is our desire to be faithful, God is generous to bloom even a mustard seed of fidelity into great things!
I wanted to share with you three quotes from the book that particularly touched my heart and a few thoughts on each. Would love to hear your thoughts on them as well, please drop those musings in the comment section below.
Can I Not Pee in Peace?
“While I never would describe myself as selfish before I had kids, I couldn’t deny that fact after. A ticker-tape of script ran through my brain all day, Reflections on the frustrating conundrums I faced as a parent too many little people:
* Can’t you just leave me alone while I pee in peace?
- * Who cares if the pretzel stick is broken? It still taste the same!
- *For the Love of All Things good and holy, please don’t put beads up your sister’s nose!
- I was never the poster woman for serenity before I had children, yet the perpetual squabbles among my children, combined with their many demands, exacerbated my impatient. I was both shocked and humbled at how easy it was to feel anger at a small child who had little to no self-control. Parenting challenged me and a way nothing else had. I couldn’t escape my imperfections even when I wanted to. Those weaknesses were there before my eyes — and the eyes of my children — all day long.”
- ~ Colleen Duggan, Good Enough is Good Enough
*Disclaimer: I used voice to text for inputting the Good Enough is Good Enough quotes – hilarious and erroneous versions may occur. Mea Culpa to Colleen and Ave Maria Press.
Every single Confession, since I’ve had children, have included the words “and I have been impatient with my children.” The biggest regrets and saddest moments in my motherhood life have come from looking back at those moments where I completely lost my poop with my kids. Those moments you can’t take back and regret to the soul of your being. Yet, not one of those meltdowns has gone without a sincere apology to my kids (and God).
As they become young adults, and are still coming to me for advice or to just chat. Or when each of the boys recently posted on social media how much they are grateful to have my husband and myself in their life. I feel like those apologies certainly did go a long way. I know bringing those feelings to confession were a huge part in the healing process as well. I often forget that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing. I am grateful that Jesus teaches us how important forgiveness is. It is the heart of the Gospel, and clearly within any family quickly becomes the heart of the family. Being human, is not something I take well, I’m always complaining and confession of all the sins that are just part of my humanity. I’m grateful that God forgives, and I’m extra grateful that my kids forgive.
Now just a quick word about “peeing in peace”. I thought that was difficult with my boys, then the Lord sent me a child who is deaf. At least with my hearing kids, when the door was closed and those little hand and eyeball appeared under the door yelling, “Mama, Mama are you in there.” You could just yell back I’ll be right out. That didn’t work with my Faithy. She was relentless, knocking and knocking. Now, however, those are memories of great joy and laughter to our family.
“ Shouldn’t this whole Mass thing be easier for everyone involved? we wondered. As if the struggle to get our children to Mass wasn’t enough, once we were there, we then spent 60 minutes in tremendous anxiety over their behavior. We worried about what other people would think. We were worried we were distracting other Parishioners [side note: voice text transcribed that word as: prisoners] and that other people would question our discipline tactics if one of the kids decided to throw an epic temper tantrum in the middle of the consecration
…. This compulsive worry caused my husband and me to adopt some unreasonable parenting practices. Instead of simply redirecting crazy kid behavior at Mass, we decided to eradicate their silliness. We became Mass Nazis, removing rewards and toys and any other privileges we could think of whenever our children’s behavior was too much. We threatened and controlled and bribed and left Mass each week exhausted and in great need of a family nap. No wonder all my kids hated church! It was a 60-minute power struggle and which we were determined to hammer a love for the church into our children’s hearts.”
~ Colleen Duggan, Good Enough is Good Enough
Oh my gosh, did you finish reading that and think, “been there and done that!”
My firstborn son was premature and diagnosed very early with AD/HD. His attention span was even less than that of a gnat. He also struggled with severe behavior issues. Mass was so stressful when my two boys were little, that I actually joined the choir, so I could get peace during Mass. I watched my sweet, often sweating, husband from the choir loft above. There I would sing God’s praises for all to see. This of course, made me look good to prying eyes, instead of seeing the horrible parent I really was up there just trying to escape the stress of my misbehaving children. My husband definitely earned some points toward sainthood by wrestling the two for the 60 minutes each week.
When we added Faithy to our family, I finally had to make the decision to leave choir and sit in the pews to help my husband. At the beginning, her language was very limited, so needing to interpret of the Mass into ASL was also very limited. I spent most of the time wrangling her in and trying to curb her ‘bratty” behavior at mass. It was a mystery to my husband and I. She didn’t act like that anywhere else but in Mass. Do you ever feel like that? Like your children do not behave in that bizarre way except for in Mass? I feel like Don Bosco’s image of the Little demons tapping on their children’s shoulders to distract them was truly more than just a dream. It truly seemed to happen every week in Mass With my kids!
The hardest part for my perfect parent problem was that you can’t see Faith’s deafness. We were in a new parish, where our story was not known. You could not tell by just looking at her that she had just been adopted at 4 years-old, and that was still in this process of assimilating into a new family. I felt like I wanted to stand up and explain her situation to the entire church after weeks and weeks of carry a screaming child down the aisle and out of Church. Through the grace of God, we eventually navigated those stage in parenting. Now, I make it a concerted effort if I see a parent struggling with their child during Mass, too seek them out to thank them for bringing their children to Mass and offer encouragement. I hope it helps them see that more people are behind their efforts, then judging them.
This Hurts Me More Than It Does You
“Is it painful for you to sit and watch your children suffer? Are you burdened by poverty or grave illness or familial addiction and generational sin? Are you paying by your grown children’s lapse of Faith? Run to Mother Mary, “the Consoler of the Afflicted,” Help of Christians,” and “the Refuge of Sinners.” She has crushed the head of the serpent. She will help you to conquer the devil, ‘the flesh,’ and ‘the world.’ She will obtain for you all the graces to hold firm to the nobel idea, which the Lord has placed in your heart.” No matter how tepid, sinful or hopeless you may feel, entrust yourself into the hands of Mary. Jesus bequeathed her to you; how could she abandoned you?”
Mother Mary knows firsthand the difficulties you face in parenting your children, and watching and waiting as they suffer. She knows how painful it is to surrender to God the moral and physical wounds our children face, and she will not abandon us, even if the situation seems bleak and beyond repair. Mary’s our model and our friend for enduring the pressure cooker we sometimes experience and family life, and we can have confidence that she will not leave us to endure the pain alone. Mary sat and watched and waited while her own son suffer, and she watches and waits with us as we suffer too.”
~ Colleen Duggan, Good Enough is Good Enough
I stink at watching my children suffer. When they were little, I would have totally been labeled a helicopter mom (if that been a thing back then). I wanted to fix everything. I still want to fix everything. I want their lives to be filled with roses and puppy dogs and no suffering at all. I realize, that has been a grave mistake, as their coping mechanisms have been challenged as they grow into young adults. It is hard not to be a mom and want to keep your children from any pain or suffering. Even in light of knowing that Redemptive Suffering is the Way of the Cross, and that God promises to bring good from all of our situations in life for those who love Him.
But I want their situations in life to be smooth, and easy, and their burdens to always be light. That, however, is not the way of this world, and it does them no justice or good for me to constantly step in and fix things. I loved Colleen’s advice to bring it to Mary. To allow Mary to sit with me in every single situation I face with my children. The good and the difficult. I love her reminder that our Blessed Mother knows what it feels like to watch your child suffer, and can comfort, console, and walk that path with us.
Colleen Duggan’s Book is Better than Good Enough
Good Enough Is Good Enough:Confessions Of An Imperfect Catholic Mom by Colleen Duggan is a treasure that each and every Catholic momneeds to have on her shelf. Maybe even on your nightstand, so you can pick it up and read it often as you navigate the winding journey of motherhood. It is so good to know we are not alone and that we not only have each other, but more importantly we have a God that loves us endlessly, a Savior who died for love for us (and our children), and a Mother, who willing to walk the road of motherhood with us.
Received book gratis for an honest review. Honestly, I thought it rocked.
You can purchase the book here on Ave Maria Press. You can use the promo code: COLLEEN through May 1 on the Ave Maria Press website for a 20% discount.
Ooh, and be still my Small Group loving heart!!! Colleen has created a study guide for small-group use!