Giving Thanks and Letting Go: Reflections on the Gift of Motherhood

family

“He is going to be a jerk sometimes.” 

There are so many things I love about Danielle Bean’s writing. I love how her words cozy themselves around me and seep into my heart. How she says “macaroni” instead of “pasta” like my family always did until “pasta” became trendy. How she speaks deep truths that tug at my tear ducts and funny, everyday truths that make me snort my coffee out onto the page.

“He is going to be a jerk sometimes.” 

Not exactly what a bride-to-be wants to hear (pg. 14) but, oh—so—true. Lest you think Bean a husband-basher, she follows this statement quickly with a second truth. We are all jerks sometimes. 

And so we are, and we stumble and fall in this mess called motherhood, marriage, and family, but the thing that sets Bean apart is her gratitude for the journey. As she points out at the beginning of the book; “Now that I am older and my experience and perspectives have broadened, I can see and know things that are hard to see and know when chasing a naked toddler.”(pg. xiv)

Letting Go

Some of Bean’s earlier works dealt with this naked toddler stage, but now she writes of motherhood at the precipice—and just a little beyond—of letting go. 

Letting go is hard. I am a few years ahead of Bean in my own motherhood journey, so my nest is truly empty. The Bean family of eight offspring still has a few at home, but that does not diminish the stages that each child-turned-adult brings to the adventure or the hole that remains in a mother’s heart when they are no longer under the same roof. 

As mothers of grown children know, simple family traditions take on new dimensions in our efforts to recreate the magic of times gone by. Anticipating and preparing for said event sometimes finds us spent and a bit disappointed when things don’t go according to plan. The Bean family Christmas tree-trimming, taking place just days before Christmas and hours later than planned, still contained the family under one roof, despite a few blips in the orchestration. 

I could see the past so clearly, because we were just there, but I could also feel shifting beneath our feet as we changed and grew. New ornaments, new faces, new traditions, with so little of it under my comfortable control. This was us, changed and changing, shifting, moving and growing (pg.29-30).

Gratitude

Bean’s reliance on the grace of God to bring her through this new stage of letting go and giving thanks as she “Marie Kondos” the physical along with the spiritual and emotional in this new stage of her life, bring back some tender “pondering-of-the-heart” memories as well as some beautiful new revelations. 

I have more time to dig deep in the kitchen cabinets and bedroom closets these days. What I find there sometimes sparks joy and sometimes sparks sadness, but most often it sparks a bittersweet combination of the two. I have more time to dig deep into my own life too, to contemplate the ways in which I will spend my time and the things I truly cherish and want to invest my time in. I have more time to look back, to look ahead, and to breathe deep, taking in every good thing the present moment (pg. 72).

I hope you, like me, will cheer when you read what comes out of the giveaway box and is placed lovingly back in the kitchen cabinets. I could not help but wonder if the same item will appear in what will hopefully be the next mothering book Bean authors.

Bean’s essential gift of wisdom as a mother, her absence of over-sharing that is so oppressively present today, and her care to allow her first editors to be the family in the stories she shares with her readers, are what makes this book so worthwhile.

*Please note Danielle Bean is holding an online book club for Giving Thanks and Letting Go. Thursdays at 1 p.m. ET in the Quarantine Book Club on the CatholicMom.com Facebook page

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