Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A Guest Post - We're Human Beings, Not Human Doings

Let's talk some more about Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Thoughts on Beauty and Balance. We started the discussion with Amy's piece. Today, I have a guest post from Colleen Duggan who writes over at Colleen touches on the issue of balance, specifically with regard to self-care.

To All The Moms Struggling With Self-Care:

During a recent trip to the park,  I noticed a book in one of my Catholic mom friend's bags.  I am a self-acclaimed bibliophile, so I asked her what she was reading when another Catholic mother -- whom I've never met -- leaned over and proclaimed, "Wish I had time to read."

One of my favorite things -- reading The Littles to the littles.
"We make time for the things we like.  Perhaps you don't like to read.  What is it you like to do?" I asked.

She didn't answer.  She'd made her point, maybe unintentionally, but one which communicated she, a martyr in her family's cause, had no time for self-indulgent frivolities like reading or any other enjoyable activity.  

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes but the conversation left me wondering:  When did the warped Puritan work ethic seep into Catholicism?  When did Catholics -- and women in particular -- accept the idea that we must slave away in life in order to earn our salvation?  It's like we've bought and played some distorted tape recording that says:

"Have lots of kids, cook, clean, and labor and by God -- don't have any fun while you're doing it!  Don't enjoy your life.  The true and good example of an honest to goodness Catholic is one who toils, sweats, and sheds lots of tears."


Catholics are called to re-Christianize the world and women, in particular, have an important role in this effort, but if the way we evangelize makes us look like indentured servants, who wants that?

Not me and not many others.  (In case you haven't noticed, our society is anything but Christian.  Is our "Catholic" example helping our hurting the cause?)

Catholic moms, we don't have to be martyrs.  We don't have to be women so burdened by our lives, we can't take time to do things for ourselves.  That isn't true martyrdom anyway -- it's garnering attention through complaining so others will feel grateful and/or sorry for us. 

But here's what we can do:  we can take time -- every day even! -- to do the things we enjoy. 

One of my own personal goals is to do something creative once a day.  My daily life mortifies me  in a million small ways and what a pleasure it is to finally be able to open the pages of a crisp new book or sit for a moment and bang out a few thoughts on my laptop.  It's renewing and fortifying to me. Without these things I would go crazy and I'm already crazy enough as it is.  I'm a human being, not a human doing and unless I want to teach my children they must constantly have their nose to the grindstone work, work, working, I better demonstrate what a healthy adult looks like when engaged in renewing activities.

What is it you like to do?







What?  What is that interests you?

Pick something and cultivate that, everyday and in some small way.  But don't belittle another a person because they are expanding themselves as a human being.  Don't criticize them for having the chutzpah to do something you don't.  Don't make off handed remarks like "Must be nice" or "Wish I had time" to another woman in the trenches making an active effort to balance self-care and taking care of her family.  Ask her how she does it or when she finds the time but don't imply she's lazy or something is wrong with her because she's developing herself as a person.  Assume every mother is trying to do the best she can because every mother is, I'm sure, doing the best she can.

Your support and encouragement are what others most appreciate, not your catty comments about how best to spend one's time.  Keep those to yourself, thanks.


A Dedicated Mom With Many Interests

Colleen Duggan is a popular writer for Catholic media and her work has appeared in both Catholic Digest and RTJ’s Creative Catechist magazine. For almost two years, she was a bi-monthly blogger for and her articles have also appeared online at CatholicMom, Faith and Family Live, RTJ’s Creative Catechist, GeniusMom, and the K4J Family Blog.  She is a monthly contributor at

Despite any professional and educational accomplishments, Colleen believes her most important job is as a wife and mom to 6 kids. Check out her website ( where she pontificates about potty training and the art of messy housekeeping.

Thanks, Colleen!


christinelaennec said...

Very true - we do what we love. I think maternal martyrdom is very unattractive and when I catch myself at it, I really try to pull myself right around. (As the Irish say, "Oh get off the cross!")

Great title of this post as well - it says volumes.

Kelly Dolin said...

Love the line "Get off the cross!"

I find time to do many things. If something important is not getting done (on a regular basis, not just in a crunch), I should examine why it's fallen below other items on the list.