After a foreword by Lisa Hendey and an Introduction, the book is organized into 5 sections - each labeled as a Confessions:
- Confession 1: I Don't Know How to Master Motherhood
- Confession 2: I Don't Always Take Care of Myself as I Should
- Confession 3: I Don't Know How to Keep My Kids Catholic
- Confession 4: I Don't Like Watching My Children Suffer
- Confession 5: I Sometimes Compare Myself with Other Parents
I enjoyed this creative way to structure her book, and it also alludes to her storytelling style of being honest about the joys and challenges of motherhood, as well as her overall journey from childhood to current life. There is a great sense of humility and a pull towards recognizing limitations and instead relying on God's graces. She ends each chapter with a closing prayer and discussion questions. Though overall the book is about a serious topic, she layered in plenty of humor.
In the introduction she created a context for connecting to her readers while also recognizing that each person will have their own unique experiences. As I anticipated, Colleen has a lot to offer her readers based on her experiences, while also recognizing that she is a work in progress and still has a lot to learn. I could relate to her referring to recognizing a point in time that her "life had become unmanageable" and the sense that we all have to evaluate our lives from time to time in order to consider our priorities and expectations and then consider implications for growth towards a sense of peace and living aligned to our vocation. She also outlined how she realized she could apply her strengths from her career as an educator to her new context being a stay at home mom. I always love marveling at how God can help us to use experiences from one aspect of our life for a different one in the future in ways we never would have imagined when we were originally developing those strengths.
Many of her quotes resonated with me, such as:
- "That's partly what makes this whole parenting gig hard: we are always struggling with the weight of our own brokenness while our children struggle with the weight of theirs. It's exhausting."
- "Doing God's will in daily life will sometimes hurt, but it will always bring us peace."
- When discussing the challenges of taking children to Mass, she mentioned, "We didn't know yet that God was using these moments of self-sacrifice during Mass to form us in our vocations [...] Our impossibly high expectations meant John and I felt mostly defeated and discouraged when we attempted Mass, nightly family prayer, reading a small story from The Lives of the Saints, or a liturgical celebration with our kids because we were almost always met with insurmountable problems (also known as normal kid quandaries). [...] We romanticized how we'd like things to be, but we were stuck in the reality of chronic imperfection--our own and our kids'."
I appreciated how she honestly portrayed the feeling of being overwhelmed within the context of being a wife and a mom, considering all the needs we want to meet but feeling too stretched thin to do all we would like to.
While reading I also noted that her understandings about the role God plays in healing us aligned with another book I have been reading and praying through this year, 40 Weeks by Fr. William Watson. She also referenced another one of my favorite authors, Fr. Jacques Phillipe, as well as other authors and Saints whose lives have inspired me.
I often think about my own journey in recent years and growth on the worry-trust continuum. I enjoyed seeing glimpses into Colleen's life and how she has also grown with being able to place her life and the lives of those she loves into God's hands alongside an on-going commitment to focus on growing in holiness.
The book officially releases on April 13th, and there will be a blog tour from April 11-20. I am buying a copy of this book to donate to a women's conference in our diocese as a giveaway. If you would like to buy a copy for yourself or as a gift for someone else, there is a coupon code, COLLEEN at Ave Maria Press through May 1, 2018.
*Note: I did not include page numbers with the quotes since I do not have a finalized version of the book.