the second book: Motherprayer


“Motherprayer is not just a book for mothers. It’s a book, finally, about loving, and if you let it, it will transfigure how you see yourself as a giver and recipient of love.”

— Lauren Winner, author of Wearing God, Mudhouse Sabbath, and Girl Meets God, among others.

an excerpt from Motherprayer: the essay, “Why We Do It,” as it appeared in the Chicago Tribune, March 2017. 

Editorial Reviews:

Publishers Weekly, starred review: “Mahany’s journalistic eye for detail and lyrical prose breathe new life into the seemingly simple, almost mundane aspects of motherhood—wet washcloths on feverish foreheads, rainy afternoons spent looking for worms, and cold winter mornings spent stirring porridge. She beautifully captures how mothering—loving deeply day in and day out, even when stretched to emotional and physical limits—can itself be sacramental.” (May 1, 2017)

Spirituality & Practice: “Motherprayer: Lessons in Loving is a classic in everyday spirituality and immediately enters the select circle of one of the Best Spiritual Books of 2017.” (June 1, 2017)

National Catholic Reporter: “I came away from Motherprayer with an awe for Mahany’s courage in revealing the depths of her love, and her terror. Mothers who have experienced the loss of a child, born or unborn, will find comfort here.

“Mahany is a poet, her words lyrical and evocative, but she admits, ‘Words — no matter how hard we try — can carry us only so far.’

“‘Prayer, if we pay attention, if we deepen, breaks out of linguistic bonds. Takes flight. Bores deep. It’s free-form verse. As near as our next breath … the quotidian that transcends to mystical.’

“It is this deep vein of Irish-Catholic mysticism that entwines Mahany’s book like so much golden thread, knitting her modern motherhood to that of her ancestors, and beyond.” (May 31, 2017)

Read the Spirit: “It’s that kind of rare book—as thought-provoking and inspiring for the ‘kids’ (especially adult kids) who read it as well as for the ‘mothers’ who will turn these pages. The short chapters are perfect for daily reflection. And, watch out! This book may move you to action. Occasionally, after reading a short chapter, you may feel moved to write a letter—either to a mom you know, or if you’re a mom yourself, to an adult ‘kid’ you love.” (April 30, 2017)

Patrick T. Reardon: “If educators and the American society that hires them ever see the light and recognize the need for children to learn how to grow up and take care of children, one of the first textbooks in the classroom should be Barbara Mahany’s new Motherprayer: Lessons in Loving.” (April 24, 2017)

LitzyDitz: “Mahany’s essays range from birth to loss to birth again, the untethering that takes place as children grow, the moments of holy angst resulting from misplaced homework, or simply waiting to hear a key turn in a doorknob. This is not a sit down and skim kind of book. It’s definitely hygge — the kind of read you curl up with on the couch under a warm blanket and a cup of coffee, or out on the patio in a cool breeze with a lemonade. It’s an intentional read, with each chapter almost requiring a pause afterward to soak in her words and apply to your past, present and future.” (April 15, 2017)

Encouraging Words, Lucinda Secrest McDowell: Motherprayer  is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Barbara Mahany not only writes from deep within her heart, but she carefully crafts each chosen word with meaning that touches the reader’s soul. Especially those of us who have been given the inestimable privilege of mothering.” (May 3, 2017)

a few kind words from readers…

“Barbara invites you intimately into her world, always with her luscious hand, whether on children, fear, prayer, language, sorrow, neighborhoods, cardinals in the back yard, or cooking — there’s something for all about the way we live our lives. As chronicler and interpreter she helps us to stop and remember our own stories, and see them a little bit differently than we did before.” — Jan Sugar, motherfriend

“Barbara’s words are a balm for our sorrows and struggles, and a celebration for all we do as mothers. Her words are poetic prayers. She puts to words faith, hope and love–all the necessities of motherhood….This book also opened a lovely floodgate of memories of my own three children, things I haven’t thought of in years, and moments in my relationship with them as mother that formed who they are, and also who I am now because of them. This book is one that will be a gem for all time.” — Sue Pearson Sklansky, Goodreads

from Abingdon Press…

Barbara Mahany writes, “Mothering was my crash course in love. Love of the sort I call Divine. Love in the way we yearn to be loved: Without end. Without question. Without giving in to exhaustion. Love with a big and boundless heart. Love with eyes and ears — and soul — wide open. Love even when it’s not so easy.”

Motherprayer: Lessons in Loving (Abingdon Press, April 2017) is Mahany’s poetic collection of field notes — love letters, really — culled from keeping close watch across the arc of her children’s growing-up years, from kindergarten through college graduation and beyond. Its most stirring meditations are the ones that bring into sharp focus one essential question: How do we love?

The whisper at the heart of Motherprayer — in writings that capture the ephemeral moments of motherhood, ones that might find you wiping a tear, or chuckling aloud — is the one that implores: “Pay attention. There is much to be studied, and learned here, in the curriculum of loving.”

Motherprayer  was birthed April 4, 2017 — and my heart held breathtakingly still.

this is the book that pulses from the deepest place inside me. it’s the one piece of work i knew i needed to leave in my wake, a lasting record of how deeply i have loved, and the lessons of the heart learned through mothering. someday, i pray, the boys i love — will and teddy — will hold it in their hands, turn the pages and breathe in — again and again — the truth of the depths of that love. and how, in becoming a mother, their most blessed mother, the depths of me was born.

you can find Motherprayer on amazon, or at your very favorite bookstore, where some gentle bookseller will happily order it for you. and i will thank you from the bottom of my motherheart.