Book review: Kate Wicker’s *Getting Past Perfect*

I recently posted a guest post by Kate Wicker (with name ideas for her baby) and a birth announcement, and today I’m thrilled to post a review of her new book!

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Kate Wicker’s forthcoming book, Getting Past Perfect: How to Find Joy and Grace in the Messiness of Motherhood, is exactly the book a lot of moms—myself included—need, often. Half memoir, half self-help, it spoke directly to me, which isn’t surprising given that Kate’s often done that for me through the years. She has a really lovely way of wording things, which become little nuggets of wisdom, like from a mom or a big sister, even though, in my case, she’s a peer (we’re the same age, and my oldest is the same age as her oldest).

Not only does she reveal her hard-won insider info that all moms experience and are embarrassed to admit (“there are lots of other days and even weeks when I feel like a total failure when I’m pretty sure I’ve royally screwed up my kids, and they’ll all end up in therapy. Those are the days when I’m in awe of my children’s deep pools of mercy and how eager they are to love imperfect me”), but she frames it all within an understanding of the crosses God asks us to bear, and the assurance that He is right there with us at every step. I loved when she noted that, “God is the only perfect parent there is, and let’s take a look at his children—you and imperfect me, all his offspring who have questioned him, those who crucified his only Son, and then all those who have committed abhorrent acts of genocide, bride burning, and other horrifying crimes of hate. One look at this Father’s broken people, and you’d think he has failed miserably as a parent. So why, then, do we take our own children’s behavior and choices and imperfections as an indictment of our own parenting?”

The ideas of “perfect” and “imperfect” moms and children (but especially moms) are addressed and moved past throughout her whole book—hence the title Getting Past Perfect. Kate says over and over again: you are not everything, and you *are* good enough. You aren’t perfect and you don’t need to be.

I loved how each chapter begins with an “evil earworm” (those nagging, untruthful or half-truthful refrains that get stuck in our heads) and a responding “untarnished truth” based on faith and reality. I loved the “Mom’s Time Out”—a prayer/reflection—at the end of each chapter. I loved that Kate included lots of personal anecdotes and bible quotes throughout, and the reading group guide and additional resources in the back make it a perfect book for individuals or groups. And I really loved this line, which I think sums up Kate’s whole goal: “Dear mamas, imperfect love is still love.” Sometimes—a lot of times—we all need to hear just that.

Kate’s book will be released on March 3, 2017, and is available for preorder from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the publisher itself (Ave Maria Press).

Birth announcement: Charles David!

Though Kate Wicker’s December guest post mostly focused on how she named each of her kiddos, she did finish up by saying she was open to ideas for her newest little one — a boy due in January. I’m delighted to share that he’s born and named — the very handsome … Charles David “Charlie”!

Kate and her husband hadn’t decided on a name by the time the baby was born, but it didn’t take long before he was named, and I’m totally not bragging or anything, but Charles was my No.1 suggestion for them. 🙂

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Congratulations to Kate and Dave and big sibs Madeline, Rachel, Mary Elizabeth, and Thomas, and happy birthday Baby Charlie!!

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Charles David (with his grandma)

(Be sure to check out Kate’s Instagram for more pictures of this adorable little guy!)

 

Celebrity guest: Kate Wicker, author & speaker

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!! What a beautiful feast day, one of my favorites! Feast days are celebration days, and I’ve got a lovely treat for you all today! 💕🎁

I’ve “known” Kate Wicker through her blog for years — her oldest and mine are just about the same age, and she and I had babies at roughly the same pace, and she’s a writer like me (though far more accomplished, being that she’s the health columnist for Catholic Digest and has written for numerous regional and national media, including Atlanta Parent, Catholic Exchange, CatholicMom.com, Catholic News Agency, Children’s Ministry Magazine, Crisis Magazine, Family Fun, Fathers For Good, Pregnancy, Pittsburgh Parent, WhattoExpect.com, and Woman’s Day. She’s also a monthly guest on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air Show, has appeared in Danielle Bean’s Momnipotent DVD series, and has been a guest on the Faith & Family LIVE and Among Women podcasts, Huffington Post Live (known as HuffPost Live), Kresta in the Afternoon radio show, and EWTN’s Son Rise Morning Show among others. Whew! 💃), so I’ve felt a kinship with her in the way that fangirls do with their mom/blogging heroes. 😍😍😍

Then she went a wrote a book (Weightless: Making Peace With Your Body, informed by her own struggles with a clinical eating disorder and written from a Catholic perspective), and she’s got a new one coming out soon (Getting Past Perfect: How to Find Joy and Grace in the Messiness of Motherhood, which I’m currently working on a review of [spoiler: it’s amazing!]; it’s available for pre-order here), AND — she’s got a new baby on the way!

Yes! A new baby! A boy! Her little guy joins three big sisters and a big brother, and Kate graciously humored me when I asked if she would mind sharing a little about the hows and whys of her kiddos’ amazing names, as well as any thoughts she and her husband have about naming the new baby. I know you’ll love all of what she has to say!

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(This photo was taken when Kate had just found out No. 5 was on the way!)

I’m a gestating machine at 36 weeks pregnant with baby number five. This one is our second boy and since we already have three girls, you’d think we’d have bountiful selection of boy monikers. However, my husband and I both struggle far more with coming up with names for the XY chromosome set than the girls. Our children’s names are all very classic, so we’ve joked that maybe we will throw everyone for a loop and slap on some eccentric name like Mango (to Gwyneth’s Apple) or Blade for this little one!

With our last baby, we didn’t find out the gender until birth. After three girls, I assumed we would be adding some more sugar and spice to our family (if truth be told, all of my kids add more spice than straight-up sweet sugar to my life). I had a whole list of girls’ names to choose from (Jane Clare being a top contender), but we had only one boy name chosen: Thomas Kemp. My husband’s dad had conducted extensive genealogy research for both his side of the family and my own, and then he put together an amazing book detailing our familial history (best gift ever!). We discovered my husband had ancestors who sailed on the Mayflower, and I’m distantly related to George Washington. The book was chock full of family names, and we perused it one day and both decided we liked Thomas (a name belonging to several of our ancestors). Kemp is a family name; it belonged to my husband’s grandfather who passed away from ALS before I had a chance to meet him. I also felt it was a solid Catholic name since the author of the Christian classic The Imitation of Christ was Thomas à Kempis. Well, lo and behold, we welcomed our first boy into the world, so Thomas Kemp it was. When we baptized him, the priest, a family friend, complimented the name choice and asked if it had anything to do with Thomas à Kempis. (I may have performed an imaginary fist pump in the air for my Catholic name-choosing awesomeness.) We always call him Thomas – no Tom or Tommy, please. My dad (a lover of nicknames) does sometimes call him “T,” which I like. Growing up, I was Katie-Did or M.L.M.D.M.T.D. (short for My Love, My Dove, My Treasure Divine; I was my dad’s only girl. J To this day, my dad gives almost everyone some sort of nickname.

As for all of our daughters’ names, I’d always loved the name of Madeline, but I also considered Clare for our first. We decided on Madeline Louise before she was born. I write journals during pregnancy to all of my babies, so it was beautiful being able to call her by her name in her letters. My mom’s mother sadly died when my mom was only a teenager and they had always had a very close relationship. My late grandmother’s name was Dorothy Louise; that’s where Madeline’s middle name comes from. I almost always call my daughter Madeline (she’s 12 now – sheesh!), but a lot of family and friends call her Maddy, and my dad sometimes affectionately refers to her as Maddy Lou.

We named our second child Rachel Marie, and we called her by that full name for awhile because it just rolls off the tongue so beautifully. But we eventually shortened it to Rachel or Rae. I love calling her Rae or even Rae-Rae, and the lullaby I sang to her when she was a baby was “You Are My Sunshine,” and I’ve always thought of her as my “Rae” of sunshine. My husband’s sister is named Rachel and his mom also had an aunt named Rachel, so it’s a family name as well. Marie is, too. My mom’s name is Eileen Marie, and I’m Kate Marie (just Kate on my birth certificate; it’s not short for anything, although my family refers to me as Katie most of the time). Marie is such a classic, lovely name, and it goes well with almost any first name! Rachel is 9 now. When she was little, we all called her Baby Rae since that’s what Big Sister Madeline started referring to her as. I still frequently call her Rae-Rae and suspect I always will.

Next up was Mary Elizabeth, also known as M.E. or just Mary. She was almost a Jane Clare. My husband liked the name Emmie, but we both agreed that we wanted her to also have a more sophisticated moniker for when she was older. We came up with M.E. (pronounced like Emmie) that could be short for Mary Elizabeth, a quintessential Catholic name. M.E. answers to any of these names – Mary Elizabeth, M.E., or Mary – but she’s told me recently she thinks she prefers simply “Mary.” Although when she was just learning to write, she loved how short the name M.E. was!

Both my husband and I definitely prefer to steer clear of overly trendy names and do tend to gravitate toward traditional names that run in our families. This go-around, as I mentioned, we have no solid picks for our baby boy (suggestions are welcome!). I like Joseph, but my husband isn’t as crazy about it. We all like William (kids included), but William Wicker makes me chuckle and think of the “Wuv, true wuv” line from The Princess Bride. James is a contender, but we’re not completely sold. We like the name John, but there are tons of Johns still alive and well on both sides of our families. I don’t tend to worry too much proprietary rights to names, but I know some parents take it very seriously. We did briefly consider Gerald since this is my husband’s father’s name, but then we realized people might accuse us of having a Tom and Jerry. No thank you.

I’m thinking we will likely decide upon a name when baby number 5 makes his big debut! I’m due in early January, so stay tuned.

Kate, thanks so much for having me.

Aren’t these great name stories??! There are so many details I love — the family and faith connections in each name; the way Mary Elizabeth’s name started with a love of “Emmie” (M.E. for Emmie is so darling! As is the fact that M.E. currently prefers Mary, so sweet); and how Thomas Kemp immediately brings Thomas á Kempis to mind — it was my first thought when Kate announced his birth, and how cool that Kemp is a family name!

So … Kate said “suggestions are welcome!” for her little boy … you know I can’t not offer some ideas! So based on Madeline, Mary, Elizabeth, Rachel, Thomas, Jane, Clare, Joseph, William, James, John, and Gerald (and not knowing, of course, any family names, so I get it if none of these work) I would suggest:

(1) Charles
Thomas and Charles have a great gentlemanly feel together! I think Charles Wicker sounds great, and Charlie is an adorable nickname. There are also loads of other nickname ideas for Charles that I’m pretty swoony over (seeing as how I love a good offbeat nickname).

(2) Stephen
Like how Kate’s Thomas is just Thomas, I really love the full Stephen. Thomas and Stephen are great brother names!

(3) Daniel
Daniel always has a sweet, affectionate feel to me because of Danny Boy. It’s classic and biblical and just a great name.

(4) Benjamin
Benjamin is mostly inspired by Rachel — Madeline, Mary Elizabeth, and Thomas have a very traditional feel, and while Rachel is just as traditional, it has a little something different that I think Benjamin mirrors.

(5) Henry
Finally, Henry — one of the sweetest names ever, and having some great heavy-hitting patron saints. I love Henry with Kate’s other kids!

Two additional thoughts: One of the combos I’ve been loving recently is James Kolbe (I like the nickname Jake for it, but it’s great on its own), and it feels a lot like Thomas Kemp to me, with the unusual middle name that’s really saintly, so I thought I’d offer that as well. Also, while Kate and her hubs might not have any babies after this one, if they’re ever blessed with another girl, Jane won’t be usable if they use John this time. You know what a conundrum it can be in regards to saving a beloved name for later at the expense of this baby’s name now! But I thought it was important to note.

And those are all my thoughts/ideas! What do you all think? What ideas do you have for this little boy?

Thanks again to Kate for sharing all this fun info with us! Please keep her in your prayers as she nears the end of her pregnancy and gets ready to meet her Little Mister, and be sure to check out her web site, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more info about her books and her musings on motherhood and more!

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