Cover of Motherhood by Natalie Carnes
A Confession
Natalie Carnes


April 2020
208 pages.

Cloth ISBN: 9781503608313



A meditation on the conversions, betrayals, and divine revelations of motherhood.

What if Augustine's Confessions had been written not by a man, but by a mother? How might her tales of desire, temptation, and transformation differ from his? In this memoir, Natalie Carnes describes giving birth to a daughter and beginning a story of conversion strikingly unlike Augustine's—even as his journey becomes a surprising companion to her own.

The challenges Carnes recounts will be familiar to many parents. She wonders what and how much she should ask her daughter to suffer in resisting racism, patriarchy, and injustice. She wrestles with an impulse to compel her child to flourish, and reflects on what such desire reveals about human freedom. She negotiates a religiously divided home, working motherhood, and social expectations, and traces the hopes and anxieties such negotiations expose. The demands of motherhood continually open for her new modes of reflection about deep Christian commitments and age-old human questions.

Addressing first her child and then her God, Carnes narrates how a child once held within her body grows increasingly separate from her, and so provokes painful but generative change. Having given birth, she finds that she herself is reborn.

About the author

Natalie Carnes is Associate Professor at Baylor, where she teaches feminist theology and religion classes. She has published two books, more recently Image and Presence (Stanford 2017), and multiple articles and online essays, including pieces on Pope Rihanna and nursing Madonnas. She lives in Waco, Texas, with her three daughters, two cats, and one husband.