I will never forget the day I met my future friend, Kathy. Kathy had just given birth to her fourth child, and mutual friends were organizing meals for her family. My oldest child was 9 months old, and I thought it quite heroic for me to manage to make her very large family a meal considering I had an infant of my own. I drove to her house and anxiously left the baby in the car (I couldn’t carry him and the meal, naturally). She let me in, and I stood dumbfounded as she calmly introduced me to her mother, showed off the newborn babe in her arms, and attempted to point out her other three children among the dozen or so running amok throughout the house. The parents of the playmates were nowhere to be found.
Fast forward to a month or so ago. I offered to take a meal to a neighbor – a friend of a friend – who had just had her second child. I made a double batch of stew (for her and for us) and some homemade rolls in between my regular duties like laundry and school. I put the toddler and the food in the double stroller, bundled the four others in their coats and mittens, and walked everyone around the corner to her home. And I smiled inwardly as she and her husband stared in obvious shock and amazement that I was even able to get everyone dressed, let alone to make and deliver her a meal.
Danielle Bean’s newest book, Mom to Mom, Day to Day, is just the book for both of those young, struggling mothers described above. How do you do it? I often get this question, sometimes actually spoken, sometimes as a pleading look in their eyes. Being a wife and mother, managing a household, passing on the Catholic faith – these responsibilities are challenging even to a battle-hardened woman with nearly a decade of experience. To a young mother who hasn’t yet acquired a taste for cold or reheated coffee, the job seems daunting or even impossible.
Many parenting books just make things worse: do it just like this or you are a failure, they seem to say. Mom to Mom, Day to Day is refreshingly different. Instead of a list of musts and shoulds, Danielle encourages women to discover what is best for their family. She de-emphasizes perfectionism without encouraging sloth, recommends a positive attitude without condemning our occasional fits of impatience, and suggests ways to live out our Catholicism as a family without overwhelming us with lists of things we simply must do in order to fulfill our obligation to teach our children the faith.
Mom to Mom, Day to Day has short, easy to read chapters – perfect for the hectic mother of little ones who snatches reading time between diaper changes and the cleaning of spilled Cheerios. If a woman ever wanted to pick the brain of an experienced mother just to get to the essence of how to live out that vocation, this book is it. I found myself nodding in agreement throughout, and had Danielle, myself, and another mother been sitting at a playground together sharing advice about raising families, I’m sure all I would have to add is, “Yeah, what she said.”
It is high praise for me to recommend a book – higher still if I actually give it to someone. I’ve already purchased a few more copies of Mom to Mom, Day to Day and can think of a couple of women from my church who could use it. And I need a spare copy, of course. So the next time an exhausted woman juggling her toddler on one hip and a newborn on the other asks, How do you do it? I can simply say, Here, read this.