What a refreshing weekend! Sometimes you just need to get away! I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Lake Charles, LA where my new friend Kate was hosting a Mother’s Rule of Life discussion night in order to foster and cultivate solidarity among moms who are trying to bring peace into their souls and homes. I have personally covered about 50 pages of this book on my own as well as bits and pieces of it from our group discussion; but despite having a so far limited study of it, I can’t recommend it enough.
The book was written by Holly Pierlot and within it she discusses the five major Ps of a person’s life: Prayer, Person, Partner, Parent, Provider. As a group we went through each chapter – briefly touching on a [very] few bullet points. There is so much more to the book than what I offer below and so I make a final plug: Check it out! A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot.
- Prayer: There are times when I get to leave the house alone, whether it’s a fun jaunt about town or a rare road trip. Kate herself mentioned that that free time a wife and mother receives is truly from God and so you should certainly spend some of it in prayer, offering the gift back to him as a sort of tithe. She suggested starting your free time with a pop-in to an adoration chapel or even a Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Not only can you start your individual free time like that, but date nights with your spouse offer the same opportunity. God has blessed you with time alone together, so offer it back to him in brief prayer.
- Person: In short, if you’re not taking care of yourself, you will not be fueled to help others. We all need time away to be refreshed and the best way to spend at least some of that time is experiencing the Sacraments of Eucharist and Confession. Go to daily Mass or adoration, clean out your soul, and study your faith. You can’t form your conscience and establish your life on a Faith you don’t know. Lastly, get to know yourself – your strengths and weaknesses. A soul in ignorance of these things cannot improve upon itself!
- Partner: Like any religious vocation, marriage has a mission that must be held paramount to your other obligations in life: your mission is “of service and love toward [your] spouse” and to help his/her soul achieve heaven (Pierlot, 75); while it’s good and natural to desire your spouse’s love, rely on him/her in weakness, and seek consolation, your personal focus should be to assume your own personal assignment as a spouse yourself, which involves “actively [deciding] to love and to become a conscious channel of grace for [your] spouse” (99). Hands down, the best prayer for this is the Prayer of St. Francis.
- Parent: Be attentive to your children. Too often we slip into “Not Now Parenting,” pushing our children’s interests and curiosities aside. Can you stop what you’re doing to listen to your child? to play with your child or read to your child? Truth be told, I fall into “Not Now Parenting” when in the middle of the least significant of activities – Facebook or checking blog stats. Or I’ll delay my toddler’s desires simply because I don’t feel like participating in them. The truth is that both our boys cease all whining and misbehavior when they receive due attention from their dad and me. On a separate note, Pierlot wrote on discipline, “I didn’t want fear of me or fear of punishment to be the sole motive for good behavior, as it had often been for me when I was a child.”
- Provider: When it comes to finances, Andrew brings it in and I’m the primary manager. My sister once told me “Just as it is [my husband's] role to bring income, it is my role to make living as inexpensive as possible.” Distinguish between needs and wants in your home; learn to live simply; “…recognize clearly that…all we do with our possessions and money is meant to fulfill the stewardship responsibilities God has called us to.”
Again, these points don’t begin to approach an adequate summary of this gem of a book. It’s true that as a wife and mother, my time is not my own. There’s laundry to do and dinner to cook, a strong hand to hold, boo boos to kiss and cardboard books to read a million times over. It can be nuts and depending on how I’m keeping up with all of my life’s Ps, it’s so easy to get run over and discouraged. Looking back it’s funny how my idea of a housewife used to involve a woman half way losing her mind, up to her eye balls in mismatched socks, with whining kids clinging at her hem; but from my observation and limited reading of A Mother’s Rule of Life, it doesn’t have to be that way. Prayerfully maintaining a marriage, humbling being a good parent, and trying to stay on top of a house are difficult things to do and I have often been caught up in anxiety over juggling just these things; but someone said rather beautifully in our meeting, “Acknowledge your anxiety, know it is not of God, and then step forward in faith.”
As for my trip, I can’t tell you the thrill it was to strike out on my own, blast my favorite tunes and have quiet prayer time in the car, all on the way to an undiscovered place with undiscovered people. In our book meeting, I listened to moms who were far wiser than I, others had conquered battles I currently fight, and some were even in the same boat as me with regard to parenting and home management. I was consoled and educated and after that, hosted by the most selfless, generous family I’ve ever encountered. The night and morning were spent in great conversation and when I thought I was on my way home, I took an extra adventure simply for the sake of excitement. Just an hour away from the Gulf of Mexico, I thought When will I get another chance like this? With Google Maps leading the way, I drove as far south as possible just so I could see the water and take it all in. Mind you, the beach in Cameron, LA isn’t a site-seeing kind of place, but the freedom in that salty air took my breath away. While in town, I stopped at Our Lady Star of the Sea parish for adoration. The original church was destroyed by Hurricane Rita except for a single Marian statue. I saw the skeleton of the old church on the grounds, and marveled at their new structure. My time there was a true blessing. Though my drive home was 4 1/2 hours from Cameron instead of 3 and change as planned, visiting Our Lady Star of the Sea and breathing the gusts off the Gulf was more than I could have asked for for a retreat away. I went to a new place, experienced a vocational awakening, made new friends, saw the Gulf which I had never before, enjoy solitary prayer, and got to jam out to “Take a Back Road” on repeat; all with a patient and supportive husband at home who was happy to allow me as much time as I needed.
See below for a few quick snapshots of my road trip!