Long Days of Small Things by Catherine McNiel {Book Review}

“God formed our bodies on purpose and called them good. In the seasons of life he gives us, we encounter and know a unique part of God and his creation that cannot be know without our voice, without our teaching. We represent a part of God’s image that the world cannot see except by looking at his work in and through us. Our voice is necessary, our wisdom is indispensable, and both these are beautiful and lovely and true.” p.177

– From the Postscript of Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline by Catherine McNiel


  • Motherhood is a necessary picture of God’s character (quoted in the postscript above).
  • The idea of being “faithful in responsibility.”

“Some religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, have a name for people in this predicament: householders. Recognizing that folks can’t just up and leave their spouses or children, these religions give householders a different set of expectations. Rather than becoming meditating monks, studying under gurus and wandering along through the forest, householders are asked, for now, simply to be faithful in responsibility.”p.9

  • Motherhood is not a second choice, does not confer secondary status, and it is transformational. Even when it feels like it’s simply chaos.

“Motherhood spirituality is not Plan B for those of us with no other choice, making the best of a bad situation. What we do and who we are is foundational to the character of God. And so is the spirituality of these stressed out, chaotic days.” p.87


The structure made the ideas feel prescriptive. Each chapter discussed a theme from the Bible and then listed places we could look in our own lives for examples or to embrace that theme a bit more – such as in breastfeeding, silence, diapers, work, cherishing our children. Taken this way would be easy to feel like we must find a picture of God in even the smallest moments or we are not doing enough.

And that’s just unhelpful.

There are many types of mothers who are mothering well. It doesn’t have to fulfill us or be described through rose-colored glasses. If you treat the to-do items as simply suggestions (as intended, I’m sure) where we might feel glimpses of God, this book would work better. The fact that it feels like a list on how to a be better christian mother makes it seem unhealthy for me.

Motherhood can be, but it doesn’t have to be, a spiritual discipline. We can choose to make it a spiritual experience with the practices in this book if that is something that fills us up, or we can do it our own way and that is perfectly fine as well.

In short: I appreciated some things. Mostly this book wasn’t for me. But it might be a book for you!

What do you think? Are you interested? Or would you skip it?

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(Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale Book Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. Contains affiliate links.)

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