I'm so grateful to Dr. Meg Meeker, author of May's featured book, The 10 Habits of Happy Moms, for so promptly answering my questions for this interview so this could be a Mother's Day weekend treat for Catholic Post Book Group readers. To all mothers and those who have mothers, have a blessed and terrific Mother's Day!
Q. First, thanks for a great book! I found it encouraging and challenging in a great combination. How did you get the tone “just right?”
I’ve listened to literally thousands of mothers over the years, so I think that I have my hand on the pulse of their struggles. Additionally, I’m a mother of four children myself and I understand where many stressed, worried mothers are coming from.
Q. Of all the 10 Habits, which one would you say is the most important for Moms, and why?
I consider faith to be the most important habit. Why do I feel this way? Because I believe that if we keep our eyes focused on God, our hearts aligned with his and our wills in concert with the work that He has for us each day, the rest of our lives all fall into place. Life for us mothers works better with God at the center and the rest of the habits follow quite naturally. For instance, when we feel closer to God, we compete less with other mothers, we live out of strength rather than fear and we have an easier time simplifying our lives because we live with different priorities.
Q. You don’t shy away from encouraging moms to embrace faith and make it central in their lives. Can you share how your Catholic faith informs your work?
Catholicism has taught me that not only is God holy, He is extraordinarily loving and kind. I feel that the intense love that God has poured into my life has prompted me to do the work that I do. I am a mother and a pediatrician, and importantly, I feel that my Christian faith calls me to spread God’s truth and love to those who are struggling and hurting- mothers across America. My work is really my mission. Many people feel that mission work occurs everywhere else, but to me, the most important work that I can do is to encourage and help strengthen families in America.
Q. Of the 10 Habits, which one do you personally find most challenging?
The truth is, I want to practice every habit, but at different times in my life, each has been hard. Specifically, I struggle most with knowing my value as a mother. My children are older now and tell me that I have been a good mother, but I always want to do better. Being a Mom has always been my top priority and I think that wanting to be better (even when our kids are grown and gone) never leaves us. And we mothers struggle constantly with having a positive and healthy sense of our worth. Perhaps it’s just part of the human condition.
Q. Do you find that moms are better at one than another? How does a mom get “good” at all of them, or is it even possible (or desirable)?
The purpose of the habits really isn’t meant to make mothers feel that they have to be good at one more thing; rather, they are meant to help mothers find deep satisfaction in their lives. Some habits feel more natural to some mothers than to others. For instance, mothers who are introverts will love spending more time in solitude, whereas mothers who gravitate toward being extroverts, will find nurturing friendships with women easier.
My intention in outlining the habits is to help mothers take small “bites” of each. All ten habits, if practiced regularly, really will help mothers enjoy life more. But, even if a mother tries one or two, she will find relief from the stresses which make her feel that she is ready to topple over the edge.
Q. Your first three books were about kids. What made you turn to moms for this book?
I have realized one truth as a pediatrician. If mothers are healthy, happy and strong, then I don’t have to worry about the kids. Really, The old adage, “If Mom ain’t happy, then no one’s happy” is very true. I felt that If I could address the issues that are pulling mothers down and help them enjoy life more, that it would have a profoundly positive impact on their families.
Q. To me, the common thread in your 3 previous books about kids is about connecting with them and the importance of parents in the lives of children. Could you share a little bit of why connection is so important? How do think “connection” relates to your book for moms?
I stress connecting with our children for several reasons. First, research shows that parents who have solid, strong relationships with their kids raise children that are much less likely to get into trouble and much healthier psychologically. Second, we’re moving farther away from connecting with our kids. Our relationships are getting splintered and mothers and fathers aren’t spending enough time with our kids. We just aren’t. Electronics get in the way. Sports events divide families. We have been duped into believing that our kids benefit more from being in dance, music lessons or any number of sports than they do by spending time with us. They need more of us and less stuff to do. Finally, I think that disciplining ourselves to work harder at relating to our kids in healthy ways is just plain hard. We need encouragement and reminders.
Q. How are you able to write books at the same time that you practice pediatrics actively?
When I’m actively writing or book touring, I cut back on my hours in the office. I can do this, because I am a senior partner (with my husband) and can control my hours.
Q. What’s your next book or project?
Next year, Random House will release a book that I am starting on Mothers and Sons.