MY CUP OF TEA: MUSINGS OF A CATHOLIC MOM. By Danielle Bean (Daughters of St. Paul, 50 St. Paul's Ave., Boston, Mass. 02130, 2005), 180 pp. $15.95.
A woman can be an outstanding lawyer, doctor, or executive and still be a failure as a person. But a woman cannot be an outstanding mother and a failure as a person. Thus, the vocation of motherhood can fulfill a woman in a way that no profession can. My Cup of Tea illustrates this truth in a concrete and good-humored way, offering a wonderful antidote to the destructive undervaluing of motherhood in our culture. Danielle Bean, a mother of six young children, three boys and three girls, is a gifted writer. To all of us familiar with her monthly columns in the National Catholic Register, this book is a welcome collection. With charming warmth and freshness, she captures eloquently the beauty, simplicity, and grace‑filled character of every day life in a happy family. This work is destined to bring consolation and encouragement to the many beleaguered mothers and fathers struggling to pass on the Catholic faith to the next generation.
Mrs. Bean’s adventures are spiritually uplifting without being preachy. Instead of complaining about her motherly stresses, frustrations, hardships, and crosses, she laughs at them, and invites the reader to laugh along with her. One reads some of her pages with hilarity, others with a lump in the throat. Every chapter will bring a flash of recognition to Catholic moms: “Yes, I know that feeling! I’ve been there.” Every episode is a morale booster for an audience sorely in need of knowing they are not alone and that someone understands and can articulate the nobility of motherhood.
This book is not just for moms, however. I am not a mother and I found every one of the 30 short chapters delightful and edifying. Reading My Cup of Tea will help husbands better appreciate their wives. Priests can draw from it an understanding of the sacrifices and joys of modern married life that will help them counsel the faithful. Each chapter is only a few pages long—the perfect length for a busy mom or a busy priest.
Although hard to put aside, My Cup of Tea was not meant to be read at one sitting. That would be like trying to visit the Louvre on a speeding motorcycle, or trying to consume 30 exquisite desserts at one sitting. You’ll get indigestion even if the portions are small. No. You must savor this work. Limit yourself to one reflection per day. Make yourself a cup of tea, relax, and enjoy.
Robert M. Augros, Ph.D.
St. Anselm College
Manchester, New Hampshire