Your Catholic Parenting Problems Solved...Mostly

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You guys, I have an announcement: 

I wrote a book for you. 

It’s called Good Enough Is Good Enough:  Confessions of An Imperfect Catholic Mom and the release date is April, 2018 from Ave Maria Press.

You can preorder the book here.

What’s the book about?

As a child, I smoothed over the jagged edges of my difficult home life with good grades and perfect behavior. By the time I was an adult, my drive to constantly be in control was my only way of life. It was only when I began raising my family that I realized how damaging this compulsion was for both me and the people around me.

That’s when I began my faltering journey toward letting God be in control.

In Good Enough Is Good Enough, I share my heartaches—learning my child has a genetic disorder that might lead to cancer; realizing that my drive to do and be everything for everyone strained my marriage; and struggling with feelings of worthlessness after leaving her job to become “just” a stay-at-home mom. I also share parenting difficulties we’ve all faced—trying to keep my kids quiet during Mass; wondering whether I’m giving them enough opportunities for growth; and balancing time spent on myself, my kids, and others. With each story, you’ll feel the brokenness I tried to cover by being a “perfect” parent and the eventual realization that I needed to find healing.

Through the saints, the sacraments, and Catholic traditions and literature, I found the Church a place where God’s love and healing grace embraced me. I invite you, the reader,  to the same conclusion: whether we are dealing with everyday frustrations or life-changing tragedies, it is in the heart of the Catholic Church that we are finally free to let go of our facades in order to embrace our brokenness and find healing.

Benefits of the book:

Before I became a wife and mother, I had a lot of stupid ideas and expectations about my roles.  Then I got married, had a few kids, and life slapped some of those ridiculous notions right out of my head.  I made mistakes, lots of them, and I had some toxic notions about marriage and motherhood. 

I’ll be honest, what I wrote in the book is painful to admit.  No one wants the world to know their failures as a spouse and parent, but the truth is, I’ve failed a lot…and from those failures, I’ve learned a lot. 

And guess what? 

I’ve come to recognize that most people fail in the same ways I have.  What I wrote about my journey isn’t neat and tidy and beautiful, but it is true and it’s authentic. 

In a world full of Pinetrest perfect and Facebook insights, if you need some real discussion about the challenges of Catholic parenting, then this book is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered if you are a complete screw up as a wife and mother, then this book is for you. 

If you’ve worried about the dysfunctional nature of your family life and how anyone is going to make it out alive given your weaknesses and the weaknesses of those around you, then this book is for you.

If you aren’t sure why God entrusted you with this husband and these kids, then this book is for you. 

If you are 100% convinced you are probably creating a huge disaster out of everything, then this book is for you.

More reasons to pre-order the book today:

·      In the book, I reveal five parenting confessions (or struggles) that I face and how to tackle those issues head on

·      At the end of each chapter is a closing prayers and reflection questions

·      I wrote a companion small faith sharing group companion study, which makes Good Enough Is Good Enough an excellent group or individual resource

·      This is a book that reassures you that you are not alone

·      It makes an excellent Christmas gift for your best friend

What people are saying about Good Enough Is Good Enough:  Confessions Of An Imperfect Catholic Mom:

"I am thrilled by Colleen's honesty. Her transparency about the challenges she has faced in her own faith walk invites us into a deeper consideration of our own imperfections." --Lisa M. Hendey, Founder of CatholicMom.com and author of The Grace of Yes

"Every mother has experienced that awful moment when she discovers that no matter how hard she tries, she will never get it all right; she will never be a perfect parent. Colleen Duggan has written the sane and sensible way to refine on that impossible goal." --Elizabeth Scalia, US editor of Aleteia and author of Strange Gods

"A soothing balm for your soul and a cheery cup of tea for your weary heart. Know, moms, that there is hope for you, for your family, and for eternity." --Sarah A. Reinhard, Catholic author, blogger, and coeditor of The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion

"An honest, soul-searching reflection on motherhood. Colleen Duggan reminds us that God's grace perfects our always-imperfect nature if we are honest with ourselves and God." --Tim and Sue Muldoon, Authors of The Discerning Parent

"This book shares in the greatness of all books that tell the truth. People who long for depth in our superficial culture will find refreshment here, and people who suspect social media doesn't always tell the whole story will find genuine companionship." --Grace Mazza Urbanski, Author of Pray With Me

A Special Pre-Order Discount Code, Just For YOU!!!

Pre-orders are a huge factor in a book’s selling potential—they help me, they help the publisher and I promise, the book will help you too!  J  Those early orders build buzz, which helps sales, and they count towards the first weeks’ sales when the book is published. Use this special discount code DUGGAN to receive 25% off the cover price from Ave Maria Press. 

Launch Team:

Would you like to help me launch this book into the world? Members of the launch team are asked to do 4 things:

  1. Read the book before release date. (Woohoo!)
  2. Spread the word online (blog, social media, etc) and offline (word of mouth) before and after launch.  Take a picture of yourself with the book and post somewhere!  J
  3. Submit an honest reviewer on your favorite retailer site (Barnes and Noble  or Amazon).
  4. If you have a blog or online community, we’d love to see you review or share the book there.

Want to join?  Shoot me an email @duggancolleen1@gmail.com and let’s talk. I hope you’ll consider joining the launch team. I can’t wait to talk to you about the book and hear your thoughts. I’ll be eternally grateful for your help, too!

Thank you for subscribing and thanks for reading the book!

 

 

To Whom Are You Listening?

 
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I stood at my kitchen sink, dousing dirty dishes from dinner.  Steam rouse in bursts from the hot water as I recalled the ugly moments from my day.  I had been harsh with my children, impatient and reactive. 

Why was it so easy for me to snap at small people, to be so easily burdened by their many needs?

I gazed at my picture of Mother Mary, the one I keep at eye level at my sink, and I contemplated her peacefulness and generosity with others. I silently requested she form me into herself.

Then, something strange happened. 

While I worked, my mind wandered from my prayer. Suddenly, I had this thought,

You are wasting your time.  This work is pointless, abandon it now and do something important.

I shuddered and quickly recited the St. Michael prayer, begging him to dispel the darkness.

The sinister thought alarmed me because it echoed a sentiment with which I had been struggling—the search to find meaning in the monotony of motherhood.  When I became a parent,  I wasn't prepared for the tedious nature of the job—around the clock feedings, diaper changes, the insurmountable Vesuvius of laundry, and the cesspool of need from my precious, yet tiresome peanut gallery. The care and feeding of little people was important but I couldn't feel the gravity.  The work felt redundant, time consuming and even boring.

Wasn’t there something more exciting and worthwhile waiting for me?

What about my hopes, dreams and desires? 

Had my passions vanished in childbirth?  

Although I intellectually recognized the importance of parenting my children, after a hard moment it was easy to feel as if I was wasting my “talents.”

That evening at the sink, darkness preyed upon my weakness.

The next week, I went to visit my longtime spiritual director.  I told him about what happened and I said, “I felt like a spiritual attack.”

“It was a spiritual attack, Colleen,” Father said.  “Whom does Satan hate more than a mother? Mother Mary was the only person Satan couldn’t get to because she was the only human outside of original sin.  Satan tempted Jesus in the desert, but Satan couldn’t get his claws into Mother Mary.  He despises your vocation and wants you to abandon it.  You are engaged in a holy work. Yes, you sin but in embracing motherhood you are embracing the will of God.”

Father’s words encouraged me to pay more attention to the lies Satan whispers about my vocation.  French Jesuit and spiritual director, Father Jean-Pierre De Caussade, writes:

“…distinguishing the true inspirations from God from those which come from the devil, namely, that the former are always gentle, and peaceful, and lead us to confidence and humility while the latter are agitating and suspicious or even to presumption and the following of our own will.”

The voice of God and the voice of the demonic are altogether different and their inspirations lead to vastly different outcomes.

Satan's voice says:  "You'll never change.  What's the point?  Why bother trying?”
The voice of God says:   "I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)

Satan's voice:  "Your work, your service?  It's pointless.  No one cares."
The voice of God:  "I use the small, the weak and the sinful.  Do you love me?  'Feed my sheep.'" (John 21: 17)

Satan's voice:  "You're not working hard enough, trying hard enough.  Harder, faster, better, stronger--that's the key to success."
The voice of God:  "...and make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just asI commanded you." (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

Satan's voice:  "No one ever listens to you."
The voice of God:  "I hear what you have to say.  You mean something.  You are important." (Isaiah 43:1)

Psalm 44 verse 15-16 describes the taunts of the evil one:

All day long my dishonor is before me
And my humiliation has overwhelmed me,

Because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles,

Because of the presence of the enemy and the avenger.

Compare that to psalm 29 verse 4-5 which describes the voice of the God:

The voice of the LORD is powerful,
The voice of the LORD is majestic.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
Yes, the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

The devil’s words are evil, turbulent, and embittered, filling the mind with discouraging thoughts that rob us of our peace. But Jesus’s words? They are gentle, calm, kind, and loving.

To whom are we listening?

When You Don't Like Man's Best Friend

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When I was about five years old, my dad, a pilot in the Marine Corps, bought our family an American bull dog for our family pet, the mascot used by the same branch of military in which he served. We named her Molly, an appropriate name for this small, stout animal whose mouth was as leaky as our water faucet.

Both my dad, my brother and me loved Molly.

My mother, on the other hand, never developed the same tender feelings. 

She complained about Molly’s propensity to drool over everything, a problem exacerbated by the fact she was solely responsible for cleaning the slobber, she muttered when she’d trip over Molly’s lazy body positioned in a haphazard spots all over the house, and of course, she’d leave the room as soon as she caught wind of the foul, gaseous bombs Molly was famous for dropping. 

(Come to think of it, we all took issue with this particular character trait.)

Though my mother was a kind and devoted parental guide, she could not summon the same love for our family pet. 

She tolerated Molly, but she did not love her.

A short time after my dad brought the dog home, he was stationed on an overseas assignment.  My parents planned to transport the dog across the world with us, except on the morning we were to leave the country, the dog was bitten by a rattlesnake and died.

My brother and I were devastated. 

We sat in the backseat of a packed car, weeping.  It was bad enough we were leaving the home we loved, and now we’d be doing it without our family pet.  It was almost too much for us to bear. 

A few minutes after she delivered us the news, I looked to my mom for comfort and was shocked to see she was crying. I was confused at my mother’s public display of emotion as her disdain for Molly was a well-known family fact.  I thought my mother hated Molly and yet, here she was--tears dripping down her cheeks—visibly saddened by the loss.   

As an adult,  I admit I don’t like dogs for all the same reasons my mom never liked them:  they stink, they’re messy, and caring for my six children is plenty enough work for me.  I don’t have the skill set or the extra emotional or mental capacity for something furry.

Unfortunately, my 11 year old daughter, Mary, does not share my sentiments and for the last several years, she has claimed her greatest dream in life is to own her very own dog.  Though she desires to be a veterinarian when she grows up, that child should most definitely pursue a law career because her ability to argue her case for a family pet is Ivy League material.  Recently, after our millionth discussion about why a pet will never be in the cards, Mary looked at me and said,

“Don’t worry, Mom, I’m gonna wear you down.  You’ll change your mind.”

Later that night, when her dad was tucking her into bed, she looked at him and said, “One time I saw a mouse run across our floor.  I thought it was gross but I also thought, if that were my pet, I’d name her Cherry. Please let me have a dog, Dad.  I want a dog so much. I promise I’ll take care of it.  I promise.”

Famous last words. 

Still, a few weeks ago, Jon and I began to vacillate on our staunch pledge.  Even though we both agree John and I have enough responsibilities, Mary’s desire for a pet was so intense, we felt it almost cruel to not even consider her request.

And so this past weekend, after many years of swearing off the idea, we bought a dog, a chocolate lab in honor of Mary’s eleventh birthday.  She named him Shiloh, the same name as her favorite dog character in one of the animal tales her dad has read to her several times.

Let me be clear:  I still have all kinds of reservations about a dog. 

I’m not a people person, not a pet person. 

I’m worried about training the dog to go potty outside and to listen to us. 

I’m worried about managing a puppy while we try to do school work. 

And I’ve already noticed the new dog is teething and gnawing on anything he can put in his mouth.   (Plus, he’s already baptized my brand new rug.  “Thank you, Shiloh!”)

But parenthood is funny thing and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my journey thus far, it’s that my children constantly issue invitations to my own personal growth, they summon me to open my closed, selfish heart a little more.  I sometimes want to keep the door closed--siphoned off where it’s safe and easier--but I keep realizing with every yes I give (even if I want to take it back sometimes), there are so many things for me to learn.

Even in the few short days we’ve had, Shiloh, I’ve learned Mary has an abundance of love to give and that she lavishes that dog with her time and attention.  I could stand to follow her example and be as generous with the people in my own house as Mary is with her dog.

I’ve also finally figured out why my mom cried all those years ago when Molly died, and it wasn’t not she was sad about the dog’s departure.  She was crying because she was sad we were sad.  She cried because she knew we were heartbroken about the dog and so she was heartbroken too.

I’m probably not going to ever be a dog person but I daresay I will love Shiloh, I already love Shiloh because Mary loves him. 

Our kids are such great teachers.

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The Cry Room Debate

Writing on Facebook, Kendra Tierney, from the popular blog Catholic All Year, ignited a firestorm by suggesting that instead of cry rooms for small children, parishes should establish Silent Worship Rooms for people who feel they’ll be distracted by “cooing babies or breastfeeding mothers, or the vocalizing of disabled adults, or the off-key singing of hard of hearing old ladies.”

The issue of cry rooms is guaranteed to bring energetic reactions from Catholics of many stripes, and Tierney’s post was no exception.

Read my suggested solution on Aleteia.