“If every mother in the United States could wrap her mind around her true value as a woman and mother, her life would never be the same.”
So begins the first chapter of The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose and Sanity by Dr. Meg Meeker. The Catholic pediatrician and author has also written the popular and practical books Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters and Let Boys Be Boys. Her newest book is both a deeply refreshing and comforting read for moms who feel stretched by the demands of life. And what mom doesn’t feel that way, at least occasionally?
10 Habits of Happy Mothers is not about completing a list of items, but truly basking in a sense of the enormous worth of a mom and a woman. Yes, each chapter ends with three or four practical “ways to make the habit stick” but those are not so much to-dos as a call for a mom to reflect and challenge herself to think, and then act, differently, a little at a time.
Meeker is candid with her own struggles in some of these areas, like Habit 4, “Say No to Competition.” It’s really about progress, not perfection, in any of the areas, Meeker attests through stories of her own and others’ lives.
I tend to be a do-er, so reading a book with a title like 10 Habits would normally make me want to tackle every area at once to revamp my life, then burn out and hate the book. Meeker’s style is so relaxed and, well, friendly, I soaked up her themes and stories. Instead of feeling guilty I wasn’t implementing the entire book, I found myself almost unconsciously following ideas. A few days ago, I found myself practicing Habit #2, “Maintain Key Friendships,” when I neglected finishing this column to agree to an impromptu meal and laugh-fest with a group of moms I’ve known and loved for years. Yes, it made my time more crunched, but it also gave me joy and connection when I didn’t realize how much I needed both.
Thanks to Dr. Meg Meeker for this radically encouraging and delightful read, a springtime breath of fresh air for moms.
What better month than May—Mary’s month-- to pick up and enjoy one of the great books about Our Lady. Three newer releases on Marian themes provide readers a range of reads, from light to challenging, that both inform and inspire:
*Through the Year with Mary: 365 Reflections by author and blogger Karen Edmisten, is year-long compendium of quotes about the Blessed Virgin Mary, from saints and other writers over the span of Christian history. Each quote ends with a short, grace-filled reflection/prayer that allows readers to reflect, daily on Mary’s influence in life and the world.
*Dominican Fr. John Peter Cameron is known best for his work as founding editor of Magnificat magazine, a monthly that is so much more than a missal. His latest book, Mysteries of the Virgin Mary: Living our Lady’s Graces, reflects that rich, thoughtful style for feasts devoted to Our Lady. Each chapter provides history, theology and devotion of a particular Marian feast. This would be a great book to open on each feast and read more about its genesis, and at the same time deepen one’s love for Mary and her Son.
*Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R., is a thorough, but not overwhelming, consideration of three elements of Fatima: its history, its message, and controversies related to it. Fr. Apostoli’s writing style, warm and engaging, is always easy to read; it’s put to good use here to teach and inspire about Our Lady’s appearance to 3 children in Fatima, Portugal early in the 20th century. Since I’m fairly new to all things Fatima, I found especially helpful Fr. Apostoli’s even-handed treatment of objections to the release of the “third secret” and other controversies.