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Motherprayer: Lessons in Loving Hardcover – April 4, 2017

3.7 out of 5 stars 23 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

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 "Motherprayer is not just a book for mothers. It's a book, finally, about loving, and if you let it, it will transfigure how you see yourself as a giver and recipient of love." 
-- Lauren F. Winner, author of Wearing God, Mudhouse Sabbath, and Girl Meets God, among others.


"In her second collection of essays, former Chicago Tribune writer Mahany (Slowing Time) reflects on what it means to be a mother, combining intimate reflections on her own experiences mothering two boys and ruminations on how learning to mother is learning to love radically 'as instructed in the Gospel, the Torah, the Qur'an, and every holy book ever inscribed.' Mahany's journalistic eye for detail and lyrical prose breathe new life into the seemingly simple, almost mundane aspects of motherhood--wet washcloths on feverish foreheads, rainy afternoons spent looking for worms, and cold winter mornings spent stirring porridge. She beautifully captures how mothering--loving deeply day in and day out, even when stretched to emotional and physical limits--can itself be sacramental. Motherhood is a subject that often falls prey to trite tropes and gender essentialism. But Mahany frames the term motherhood as simply the nurturing and selfless care for another, carefully demonstrating that her conception of mothering transcends gender and biology and is open to both women and men. This wonderful book on the beauty of loving well will be appreciated by anyone interested in how mothering can be informed by Christ's selfless love."
-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"[M]others who need to transcend the quotidian can turn to Motherprayer: Lessons in Loving..."
-- Publishers Weekly, "Books That Inspire"


"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."
 -- LitzyDitz, Chicago Now


"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."
-- Patrick T. Reardon, essayist, poet, literary critic; author of eight books, most recently, a poetry collection, Requiem for David. 


"[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.'" 
-- Christian Century

From the Inside Flap

Just maybe, in exploring motherhood, its interior and its borders, in illuminating the ledge where we let go and turn it over to the updraft I call prayer, maybe in imploring, begging, believing in the tender arms that will not let us--or our children--hurtle into the bottomless nothingness, we'll find God in depths and intimacies we've never known. Or imagined. God who loves us as a mother loves. God who hears the cries of our heart, from down the shadowed corridor, in deep of night. God who keeps the watchlight burning, and will not abandon the vigil, not until we find our way through the darkness.

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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