It’s not unusual to feel less than perfect in our vocation as a Catholic mom. But as Colleen Duggan points out in her new book, Good Enough is Good Enough: Confessions of an Imperfect Catholic Mom, we’re not called to be vessels of perfection. It’s okay – grace-filled, even – to be an imperfect Catholic mom.
This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details. I received a copy of Good Enough is Good Enough in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
On Sunday mornings, something happens between the moment I look at the clock upstairs and the moment I start the car.
Perhaps you have experienced the same sort of phenomenon: 15 minutes dissipate in a black hole of anxiety
“No! We can’t be late! We’re always late! I have to brush my teeth and my hair!!!!”
“Uggghhhh! There is something [incredibly small and visible only to me] in this shoe and I WILL NOT WEAR IT!!!!”
And preschool logic
“No shoes! No mass! Jesus is in da kitchen! He using da mikeywave!”
I don’t care how early or on time the Kochis family appears to be. No matter what – it takes at least three times as long as it should to get out the front door, into the car, and through the eight-minute drive to church.
Yes, we are usually late. Someone is usually crying. And we usually end up stumbling into the pew like a band of drunken pirates unaware of shore leave etiquette.
Typically, no one pays us any mind. This past Sunday we had an incident.
Not Good Enough: An Imperfect Mom’s Confession
We sat down at the beginning of the second reading. I buried my face in my hands, begging forgiveness and focusing on the Lord. I felt a pair of eyes burning a hold in the back of my head, so I glanced sideways.
There was a woman in my peripheral vision, her glare fixed in a disapproving gaze.
I shrugged it off. Rationally speaking, she probably wasn’t looking at me anyway. But the burning continued as the mass went on to Father’s homily. My oldest reached over to quiet her brother. A sharp “NO!!!!” rang out through the church.
As I gathered my wiggler into my lap, I caught the gaze of the woman behind me. She huffed, rolled her eyes, and turned away.
My family of five is a disruption. We don’t fill up an entire pew. My house is a disaster and my car a stale goldfish dispenser.
I am the mother of children with invisible disabilities. I’m often terrified of how we will be perceived.
Here at this mass was our chaos.
It was obvious and it was real. It was bringing other people to do hurtful things and I wondered – not for the first time – if I was indeed the mother my children needed.
I’m not good enough to model holiness.
I’m not good enough to raise Catholic kids.
I’m not good enough to encourage the path of my fellow Christian mothers.
I’m not good enough to be the woman God created me to be.
Your “Good Enough” is Perfect: Why It’s Okay to Be An Imperfect Catholic Mom
This is not an uncommon feeling: A UK study reports 87% of mothers feel some measure of maternal guilt. Being Catholic, I think, adds an extra layer of complication. We have the Blessed Virgin Mary as our role model. How in the world could we ever compete?
Enter my friend, Colleen Duggan – funny, down to earth, and particularly good at listening while leaning in. Her debut title from Ave Maria holds that self-same quality. Unflinchingly real and encouragingly authentic, Duggan weaves gentle support through her own powerful story.
In Good Enough is Good Enough: Confessions of an Imperfect Catholic Mom, Duggan uses five confessions to take the reader through the lows of Catholic motherhood, bringing us safely to the other side.
She bares her soul with each confession, wrapping the reader in a gentle literary hug. Alongside her own relatable experiences, Duggan includes scriptural analysis and stories from the lives of the saints. Each chapter ends with a unique prayer pertinent to the situation and with discussion questions to help the reader learn and reflect.
I am an imperfect Catholic mom like Duggan. Each confession felt like it was written just for me.
Duggan walked a path of internal, exacting perfection. I struggle with binge eating and obsessive exercise.
Duggan put her marriage on hold for the sake of her children. I bury myself in responsibilities so I feel like I have a purpose beyond motherhood.
Duggan amazes me with her penchant for full surrender; I stammer and stutter under the questions my kids ask.
Duggan and I both walk the path of special needs parenting; we’ve faced the desperation of not knowing how to make it better.
Duggan calls her discipline approach “helter skelter”; I often find my own children climbing furniture and walls.
There is one vital message of Duggan’s Confessions, one I need to tape to my refrigerator door:
The truth about parenting is that you don’t have to get everything right and your family doesn’t need to be perfect.
Something happens around here on Sunday mornings. We get up as a family, we get dressed, and then run to the car. We navigate mass with three beautiful, imperfect children. We receive God’s grace in the Eucharist. We pick up our belongings and go home.
[F]orming Catholic kids is not going to be easy. It’s going to take hard work and prayer and trust in God. It’s going to take humility. It’s going to require that we surrender those idealistic visions of Catholic family life we may have and accept the real family we have sitting right in front of us.
It doesn’t matter if the folk around you can’t see that. What matters is that you remember you have a savior.
After all, isn’t this life what his sacrifice was for?
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