Mothering is Truly an Art of the Heart
By Guest – Posted on May 1, 2013
Today, I’m pleased to share a guest article from author Diane Knittle, who as one of the co-authors of the book Mothering, An Art of the Heart. I know you’ll enjoy Diane’s unique perspective and invite you to visit the book’s website at motheringanartoftheheart.com.
What do a diamond ring and potty training have in common? A mother. A child. Giggles. In her story, “Diamond’s are a Girl’s Best Friend,” Suzanne Shady tells the delightful story of her exasperation in trying to potty train her three year old son, only to have laughter solve the problem when her diamond ring made a bright tiny ball of light that danced on the bathroom wall. Inspiration struck Sue and she moved the “fairy light” around the wall and to her son’s tummy. The child went into gales of giggles, relaxed and produced the needed results on the potty! This is just one of the many stories that you will find in “Mothering, An Art of the Heart.”
“There is a richness and a power and a wisdom to be found in a circle of women”, says Suzanne Shady, co-editor and author. Our story has a small beginning, as most stories do. Two of us met for coffee and shared in the joy of a young adult child who had come through some difficult years to securing a good job and a hopeful future. “We should write a book!” they agreed.
Nine of us, all Catholic moms with forty-three children collectively, came together to collaborate on a book that we hoped would be an inspiration and affirmation for mothers of all ages. We come from all walks of life. Our group includes a nurse-midwife and college professor, two Catholic chaplains, a speech teacher, an elementary education teacher, a children’s librarian, an artist, a junior high teacher, and a paralegal turned teacher’s assistant.
As we sat together and talked, we realized that the journey of motherhood had taught us many lessons that we were eager to pass on. We first came together on December 12th, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, our Patroness. Six years later on the Monday before Mother’s Day, 2012 we published our book!”
Mothering is more art than science. Mothers are different; children are different. Our book is not a manual. It is a collection of short and engaging stories that celebrate family life, real moms and real children honestly looking at the messy and wonderful business of raising children! We hope mothers will see that you can take things in pieces. Over time, it would seem that those pieces come together to form a story, a tale of love and devotion, a chronicle of the relationship between mother and child, something to really celebrate on Mother’s Day!
“Mothering, An Art of the Heart,” is organized into eight sections, –Joy, Nurturing, Socialization, Values, Traditions, Faith, Humor and Creativity, and Wisdom. In these chapters we share stories of mother/child bonding, enforcing rules, our personal failures, and times of wonderful moments when families come together. “These chapters describe parents’ doubt and fear, loss and acceptance, and show how a family, at its best, serves as a network of support and unconditional love.”* It is a book about mothering but also a memoir.
Keenly aware of the struggle that parenting can be, we share what we have learned from our mothers, grandmothers, other moms and from our own experience. We are acutely aware that we have not been perfect moms nor do we have perfect children. “Building strong families is a challenge to all of us,” writes Mary Jo Brach, Service Director of the Family Resource Center of Crestwood Children’s Center in her endorsement of our book. “Parenting skills are learned—over time, and within whatever networks of support we have in our lives—often through the sharing our experiences as we go.”
During the writing of “Mothering, An Art of the Heart” we faced many of life’s challenges. One mom experienced the untimely death of an adult child and another was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two of us had sons deployed in the Mid East. There were moves to new homes, renovations of old homes, launching college graduates, sending adult children to volunteer in foreign countries, weddings and welcoming new grandbabies! Our goal was to write a book; our gift was that we found each other. We meet monthly and are still telling our stories and learning from each other. We hope our book is an encouragement to mothers to join with other mothers and tell their stories, developing their own “mother wisdom.”
“Mothering, An Art of the Heart” is available through the book website http://motheringanartoftheheart.com or major online booksellers such as www.Amazon.com and www.BarnesandNoble.com – order your copy at Amazon to support CatholicMom.com with your purchase.
*Kirkus Indie book review
Copyright 2013 Diane Knittle
Authors of “Mothering, An Art of the Heart” are proud to announce that we will be at the Penfield Wegman’s tomorrow from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Come see us! A portion of all proceeds will be donated to Step by Step, an outreach program of Volunteers of America of Western New York. Thisyear, Step byStep is celebrating twenty years of empowering women who are, have been, or are at risk of being incarcerated to claim their strengths and build healthylives for themselves and their families.
There will also be a book signing after the Masses at Church of the Assumption, Fairport, NY on April 20-21!
A collection of short essays or anecdotes about the trials and rewards of motherhood edited by Shady and Figueiredo.
Organized into eight sections—“Joy,” “Nurturing,” “Socialization,” “Values,” “Traditions,” “Faith,” “Humor and Creativity,” and “Wisdom”—chapters explore the struggles and joys of learning how to fulfill the challenging role of motherhood. Writers share stories from when their children were born, entered adolescence and became parents themselves. The essays describe parents’ doubt and fear, loss and acceptance, and show how a family, at its best, serves as a network of support and unconditional love. One contributor writes about how easy it is to miss watching your child’s imagination grow: “Sometimes it takes a little bit of extra effort to make an ordinary day more enjoyable for those you love. But it is worth it.” Figueiredo includes an insightful, straightforward list of the lessons she’s learned from her own mother, from her friends, from her children and from herself. The lessons range from the practical—“a clean baby is a happy baby”—to the theoretical—“don’t underestimate the potential of your child.” Overall, the book captures the conflicting emotions that motherhood can bring, but there are places where it could have delved deeper into the experience. For example, one author, Patricia Costigan, mentions that she was “caught in the darkness of depression” and struggled to enjoy many of the years when her children were young, but we do not get any concrete details about how this affected her experience as a mother. The strongest moments in the book include stories of how the writers overcame hardship—the death of an adult child and the diagnosis of breast cancer—and taught their children to do the same. Though nine mothers contribute to the collection, the perspective is limited to a white, mostly Catholic point of view, which informs many of the stories. Likewise, the family structures are similar in construction and values.
Though the book does not offer a wide range of experience in terms of race, demographic or even family dynamic, the stories here do reflect the title and show how mothering is, in fact, an art of the heart.