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Motherprayer: Lessons in Loving Hardcover – April 4, 2017
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"Mahany's essays range from birth to loss to birth again, the untethering that takes place as children grow, the moments of holy angst resulting from misplaced homework, or simply waiting to hear a key turn in a doorknob. This is not a sit down and skim kind of book. It's definitely hygge -- the kind of read you curl up with on the couch under a warm blanket and a cup of coffee, or out on the patio in a cool breeze with a lemonade. It's an intentional read, with each chapter almost requiring a pause afterward to soak in her words and apply to your past, present and future.... Find this book and read it. Then give it to a friend that needs a reminder of the hero she (or he) is for the tasks accomplished day in and day out mothering. We are all more deserving of praise and for the awesome work we do each and every day."
"If educators and the American society that hires them ever see the light and recognize the need for children to learn how to grow up and take care of children, one of the first textbooks in the classroom should be Barbara Mahany's new Motherprayer: Lessons in Loving.
"...Motherprayer is a primer on how to think about being a parent, and that's what's really important.
"It's not a manual for how to raise the brightest or the most athletic or most successful or whatever kids. In fact, it's not really about kids, not directly. It's about how to approach the job of parenting in a way that enables you to tap into the full richness of the experience -- and be as present to your kids as they need you to be; to be, as much as possible, the parent they need; to be there.
"I know the book is titled Motherprayer, but it's about the vocation of every parent."
"[Mahany] writes with conviction and beauty about the joys and challenges of mothering, including her experiences with infertility and miscarriage, being in a Catholic-Jewish interfaith marriage, and raising sons born nearly a decade apart. 'It takes love,' she explains. 'Deep-veined love. The sort that reroutes all the wires inside you. That literally re-scripts your dreams, gives center stage to the newest, dearest soul in your life, one you suddenly realize you can't live without.'"
From the Inside Flap
It's in knowing this God that we'll wrap ourselves more freely and more fervently in the shawl of prayer, motherprayer, those utterances that come from our most stripped-down essence. In knowing this God who is fluent in a mother's love, aren't we opening a channel that joins our heart to God's?
Motherhood, it seems, has caught me in its everlasting grip. No other instruction--sacred or otherwise--has so captivated, enchanted, orignited me.
Nor so blessed me.
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In this collection of essays on the topic of motherhood Mahany writes great eloquence of the shared joys, fears, and mysteries of motherhood. Each one captures a period of time in motherhood that we can all relate to. Structured around the nesting of a bird, she walks the reader through the seasons - Nest Building, Hatchling, Brooding, Tending the Clutch, and so on. As one that has both young children and those who have left the nest, I think this is a great analogy.
Sprinkled throughout are recipes and other tidbits of information. Warning: the "Worth-the-Wait Porridge" will ruin you for any other oatmeal. It is simply delicious.
Mahany's writing is beautiful and almost poetic. She writes with passion and a strong command of the English language. And underneath it all is the strong theme of mother love. I found that I truly needed to "savor" many of these essays. It was enough to read one, and dwell on it for awhile.
The only reason I am not giving it five stars is the theology, especially in the first few sections and "The Cradle that is Prayer." This section in grounded in Catholic mysticism, and there is not biblical support for this definition of prayer. Prayer, by her definition, is not us communicating with God using words. Prayer is, to her, the actions that we do. However, mothers of all faiths love their children. Mothers of all faiths tuck them in at night, tend their wounds, wipe theirs tears, and lovingly nourish them. Mother with no faith do these things. But they are not praying. Prayer, in Scripture, is always people using words to communicate with God. Prayer is never, in Scripture, "acts of kindness, of hope, of selflessness' (p 10). Those things are important, and they are certainly a part of the fruit of the Spirit, but they are not prayer. However, this was only evident in the beginning of the book. Once I got past that, I thoroughly enjoyed her reflections on this great pouring-out-of-self called "motherhood."
So while I truly enjoyed the book, and I think I would really like to sit down and have a cup of tea with Barbara Mahany, I just cannot agree with her definition of prayer.
Note: edited later for auto-correct crazies!
Most of the chapters relate to Barbara herself as mother of two sons born eight years apart. She'd long imagined she'd have a house full of kids, yet after at least four pregnancies that ended short of full term she finally delighted in the surprise gift of a second boy. Although she has spent her sons' growing-up years completely absorbed in their lives, she also knows a person has kids and raises them in order to prepare them for service in the world, and that means to let go on some level. All in all, Motherprayer will benefit any human who aspires to fuller, more sustained, better quality relationships with everyone in every aspect of their lives.
Presentation note: Basic book design is gentle and lilting; the cover truly exquisite. The begrudging size and somewhat spindly style of body text is my only disappointment. I couldn't find production notes anywhere. Unlike some books I've received from Amazon Vine, because this is a final, fully-formatted, market-ready version, sadly, I'm entitled to comment.