I remember the very first email I sent to Danielle Bean. She used to have this feature on her blog where she would pose a reader question to the masses and let everyone answer. I was never any help, but I valued what those people could offer me.
I was 30 years old, had a rambunctious 18-month-old and a full-time job, and I had just broken my left arm.
For some reason, I was quite sure that the person who would be able to tell me just how to handle my life (and especially supper) was Danielle Bean.
Over the years, I’ve gotten to know Danielle as more than just a momstar who’s bigger than life. I’ve followed her writing and her career with some interest, and when her latest book came out, I was blessed to get an advance copy.
Which I managed to read in a couple of days. (So the kids had to dig for underwear and socks. I HAD A NEW DANIELLE BEAN BOOK.)
Momnipotent: The Not-So Perfect Woman’s Guide to Catholic Motherhood is wisdom and wit, topped with the signature Danielle Bean why-yes-I-will-wear-cute-heels-and-pass-you-an-energy-drink way of approaching things. It’s looking at motherhood through the lens of the Theology of the Body, and it’s a must-read for every mom I know.
The book gave me the perfect excuse to grab Danielle for an interview. After all, a wife and mom of eight who’s juggling writing and editing and so much more probably has a thing or two to teach us about integrated living. So let’s hear it!
You have a long history of helping and encouraging moms, Danielle. How’d that become a passion of yours?
It became a passion for me because of my own experiences of struggling. As a young mom, especially, I desperately needed encouragement and support. I needed to be reminded of the dignity of my calling and the importance of my work as a mom all the time. Friends and sisters are good for commiserating, but I think moms need to hear more from the Church about their calling and their worth. The writings of John Paul II do that so beautifully that I make it my goal to make his message heard as far and wide as possible.
There’s no doubt you’ve “been there, done that” as a mom. Who would you say is the mom who most needs to read Momnipotent?
I think any mom, young or old, new or veteran, who is feeling depleted and disillusioned (we all do sometimes!) needs to hear the message in Momnipotent. We all have moments where we fell inspired and “on fire” with love for kurt families and our vocations, and we all have moments (or even whole seasons of our lives) where it feels like there is a disconnect between what we “know” is true about motherhood and what experience on a daily basis. When negative thoughts and attitudes start to creep into our everyday lives, it’s time for renewal — time for an intervention. Momnipotent can be a useful tool for doing exactly that for weary moms.
Who’s your mom inspiration? Who helps you recharge and remember your priorities?
My own mom, of course! She raised nine of us to adulthood and every one of us is still Catholic! I think that is such a rare accomplishment these days that I want to know her secret. I’ve researched and I’ve asked, and the “secret” appears to be pretty simple. Lots of love, hard work, and prayer.
I also look to Mary as an example all the time in my role as a mom. She is the epitome of womanhood and we can’t go wrong learning from her example. I love to reflect on her life as we read about it in the Gospels. There are so few words written about her and so few words she says in Scripture, but each story, each moment is so rich and deep, and so full of meaning. Spending time in meditation on these moments, whether while reading Scripture or praying the Rosary, draws us so close to Mary’s beautiful heart.
Momnipotent is more than just a book. Tell us about the package that goes with it and what went into that.
I’m so glad you asked! I have written other books, but I have never before put together a “study” designed for parish use like this before. The experience was such a blessing for me and I hope the final product will be a blessing for other moms.
The study program includes a leader guide, a participant’s journal, and a 4-DVD set featuring eight sessions of Momnipotent. This is a ready-made, discussion-based, eight-week study designed just for moms. Each week is designed for prayer and discussion, focusing on a different feminine strength. The video component features some inspirational creative “shorts” and some round-table discussions on the topic, featuring everyday moms from all walks of life, just like you and me, talking about the things that matter most. I loved recording these! The conversations we have are authentic, heart-felt, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes deeply moving. I hope they will inspire lots more discussion in the parish groups who take on this study.
When you get a chance to relax, what are we most likely to find you doing (other than laundry)?
I do my share of laundry and dishes, but these days I also am busy caring for my latest “baby” — a sweet puppy we added to the family this summer. Also, especially on these beautiful fall days, I enjoy running as a way to not only get some exercise, but also some much-needed quiet time to think, to pray, or even just to zone out for a little bit. And finally, I may or may not be hopelessly addicted to Jelly Splash. No really, will you remove it from my phone, please? I need to get some stuff done.