First let me say, I really, REALLY, wasn't going to buy this book. I didn't need a guide to get through these single years, let alone a man in the first place, and really the only time I felt badly about being single was when I was in church anyway! Almost everything I'd ever read about Catholic women was all about being a good wife and mother. That was what bothered me - could I ever be a valued Catholic woman if I was never to get married and have children? That is certainly what I've always wanted, but what if it just didn't happen for me? It bothered me enough I fell away from the faith for a few years, not coincidentally the years I was in residency, where I was finishing my training for the other vocation I felt like God was calling me to.
But I did buy the book. I think it was the cover art (she looks so dang put together!). And then I read the book. In one day. And I laughed a lot. And cried some. And I felt like someone really understood what I was going through, even if her situation was different. And then I sent it to a close friend who is also loving it.
Reasons I love this book:
1) The author is single and wants to be married. She is writing about a situation she knows well, from personal current experience. Not reflecting back now as she makes dinner for her husband and kids. Not giving advice when her vocation is something different anyways. She understands what her target audience is going through because, well, she is going through it too.
2) She essentially dismisses the idea of a single vocation (which is a vocation only married and religious people seem to believe exists). To the extent other Catholic writing has discussed this, the example used is always some woman who has to care for an aging relative. You know, maybe that woman was called to marriage too but the circumstances never allowed for it. There are many women who are called to marriage who for various reasons will never get married. Ms. Stimpson acknowledges this, but also doesn't discredit what is in those women's hearts. It seems it would be better if the Church and our fellow faithful help us navigate those potential circumstances or disappointments rather than insist this must be what God wanted all along (which always struck me as a cop-out).
3) The author gives practical, relevant advice. And she's funny. This is a rare combination to be celebrated! After reading this book I actually busted out the iron for the first time in approximately 9 months.
4) As I mentioned above, I've always struggled with what the Church means when it says all women are called to be mothers. I've read a lot of this subject. It was supposed to help me understand but was rather always isolating and painful. This was different. I feel like I recognize how I'm a mother now, barren as I've always been. It made me feel ok about feeling called to work, even if the author would love to be a stay at home mom one day. It made me recognize how my being a woman actually helps me be a better doctor. And I'm thankful for that more than anything else. This book has given me the means with which I can embrace my faith again.
If you are or know of a single Catholic woman who is struggling, send this book to her via overnight mail. If you or she is doing ok, send it by regular post. It's is very well worth it.