Saturday, July 8, 2017

Getting Past Perfect: How to Find Joy and Grace in the Messiness of Motherhood by Kate Wicker

Is motherhood the most important thing in a woman’s life? 

In Getting Past Perfect, this wife and mother of five’s answer might surprise you.  Kate Wicker addresses this question and other popular myths about motherhood in her latest book.  

I’ve often felt as though I’m missing out because we don’t have children of our own.  I’ve also felt as though I should be closer to perfect as a caregiver, nanny, and/or teacher because I’m not on the job 24/7 like a parent is. 

Each chapter starts out with a catchy title followed by two statements: the first is a myth about motherhood referred to as “Evil Earworm,” and the second is called “Unvarnished Truth.”  

The premise of the book is expressed succinctly on page 1:

Evil Earworm
Being a mother is the most important
thing a Catholic woman can do.

Unvarnished Truth
Motherhood is not your highest
calling.  Being a daughter of God is.

Wow!  What a great reminder!  I love children and have very much enjoyed being part of the village to help raise some of them.  There have certainly been times when I have put my job/vocation of taking care of and teaching other people’s children above my role as daughter of God and wife.  Even without our own kids, I’ve fallen into the trap of getting wrapped up in the little people in my care to the exclusion of some of the other priorities I ought to have.  

My view that I should be able to reach something closer to perfection when taking care of or teaching children because I’m not on call 24/7 for 365 is pretty skewed.  I’ve been reminded of how impossible this is numerous times over the past several years, yet part of me still believes that I should strive for perfection instead of excellence.  Clearly, Kate Wicker is a kindred spirit who has struggled with similar notions regarding motherhood. 

Whether you are biologically and/or legally responsible for the children in your care 24/7 or for a limited period of time each weekday, the truth is you’ll make some mistakes.  Despite your best intentions, past experiences, whatever reading you have done or on-the-job training you’ve completed, there will be times when you’ll not be as patient, pleasant, or compassionate as you are able to be.  A woman can strive to do her best to be kind, gentle, and loving with children in her care, but sometimes she will fail miserably to be any one of those things.  That doesn’t mean she is a failure as a caregiver, nanny, or as a mother.  It means she’s human. 

Whether you have half a dozen children of your own or provide daytime childcare for one infant, your physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual strength and endurance will be tried.  There will be precious moments and warm memories to melt your heart, and there will be others that are nothing short of exasperating and heart-wrenching. 

Getting Past Perfect illustrates how it is possible to be a woman grounded in prayer, lifted up in love, realistic when it comes to the importance of her vocations as wife and mother, as well as honest when taking care of little people has brought her to her knees in tears. 

When people tell you to enjoy every minute of motherhood, it’s okay to look at them like they’re crazy.  When you’re in the middle of the grocery store with a preschooler who insists on pushing the cart, a toddler who’s stripping in public, and an infant with poop oozing out one side of his diaper, you can be honest and loathe that moment of motherhood without being thought of as some ungrateful wretch who doesn’t deserve children. 

In addition to denying the ability to be perfect, Kate Wicker reminds readers that no matter how much we love the children God has placed in our arms and on our hearts, He loves them infinitely more.  When we are facing circumstances outside of our control, the best thing we can do is offer the precious lives in our care for a time back to the Lord God who created them. 

Raising children doesn’t have to be a blessing or a cross that you bear on your own.  You can share it with your husband, family, friends, and community.  Most importantly, you can share the responsibility of saying and doing what’s best with God. 

I highly recommend Getting Past Perfect.  I was interested in reading it the moment I heard Kate Wicker was coming out with another book.  I was slated to review it in the fall, but I couldn’t handle reading it at that time when so much was happening that made our childless marriage so hard to deal with.

I also suggest checking out Kate Wicker’s first book entitled Weightless: Making Peace with Your Body.  I enjoyed it and knew I would like the author’s next book as much if not more.  I feel as though I could write a companion book that is for nannies and childcare providers.  Perhaps that’s what the My Nanny Diary manuscript I’ve been working on could morph into.

My Prayer for Women: Lord, please help us first and foremost to rejoice that we are your beloved daughters.  Teach us to let the love You pour into our lives flow into the people you have given us to care for and about.  Remind us often that drawing closer to You is always in our best interest and will enhance our enjoyment and fulfillment of each vocation to which You call us throughout our lives. Amen.

To get more information about Getting Past Perfect or to order your own copy, click here.

To order on Amazon, click here.

Check out an interview with the author: 

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