In 2014, I was feeling swamped. My son was a high-needs infant, stuck in that gap between wanting to be into everything, and unable to crawl yet. All day long, I felt like I was putting out fires. There was no order. I couldn’t tell you what my priorities were. Just getting through the day alive?
That’s when I joined a small book study online. The group was reading and discussing A Mother’s Rule of Life. From the author, and the women in the group, I learned how to prioritize my new life as a mom.
About the Author
Holly Pierlot is a homeschooling mom to 5, living on Prince Edward Isle, Canada. She’s no shrinking violet. She wasn’t born to be a homemaker, knitting by the hearth. In her youth, she toured in rock bands, and was violently opposed to the vocation of marriage and motherhood. Slowly but surely, the Lord worked a change in her. A Mother’s Rule of Life distills her story and wisdom gained, so that you too can have order in your home, and peace in your soul.
Structure of the book
The book is written around her delightful five P’s. It’s a handy way to remember the order of obligations. You may want to reshuffle these to fit your own worldview, but Pierlot’s P’s (in order) are Prayer, Person, Partner, Parent, and Provider.
The author opens the book with an explanation of the word “rule”. Now, this isn’t some stringent book of binding homemaker laws (I’m not sure what those could be, except for Murphy’s Law). Rather, it’s referring to a monastic rule of order.
Every community of monks or nuns is ordered along a schedule, or rule, according to its community and charism. Pierlot uses a rule from Mother Teresa’s community as her example.
These women were busy with the never-ending task of alleviating human suffering in the slums of Calcutta. And they still made hours each day devoted to praise, worship, and study of God. As well as time to relax, refresh, and renew themselves for another day’s work.
Nobody has time, we only choose how to make use of it. A Mother’s Rule of Life walks the user through building a weekly hourly schedule, in order of a Christian wife and mother’s priorities. Pierlot demonstrates the inclusion of each “P” in her schedule, beginning with the most important.
Notice that this is the first aspect, the chief priority, in building your rule. As Christians, a well-designed life starts with God. What this looks like will be different according to your unique season of life.
Maybe daily Mass isn’t possible. Maybe a quiet time alone with God before the kids wake up is out of reach. Sometimes the most you can do is make your morning offering and fall back asleep. But I try to also get some scripture reading in and set my sights on the day ahead. Those days are much better than the days I skip my morning time.
How many times have we heard this one? When a plane is going down, you put your oxygen mask on first. Your physical, emotional, and mental health are non-negotiable.
Self-care looks different for every person. Maybe you scrimp on exercise, or healthful meals. Pierlot’s greatest need was alone time. As an avowed introvert, I identified with her on this point. Her idea of a Mother’s Sabbath, taking alternate Saturdays off, fascinated me!
I particularly enjoyed this section. Your marriage is a sacrament, a divine covenant, and source of grace. It predates your children, and will (God willing) continue long after the chicks fly the nest.
The temptation, especially with very young children, is to put your marriage on the back burner. Don’t give in! Keep your marriage alive by consciously prioritizing your partner daily.
At first, Pierlot didn’t see the dignity in the vocation of motherhood. It didn’t feel all that different from being a nanny. Until one day, she read a marriage manual state that “parents image God’s work at creation.” When she read the story of creation in Genesis, suddenly it all made sense.
Motherhood is an apostolate. We have a personal mission to actively participate in the formation of our children’s souls. That’s a responsibility and a privilege no one else can lay claim to.
Depending on your family’s needs, this looks different from person-to-person. Even if you are not the breadwinner, you still provide for your family’s material needs. You provide for their comfort by cleaning, and keeping everyone fed and clothed. Everyone’s day runs smoothly through your organizing and planning. You save money by maintaining the home and furnishings. Even if you’re not bringing in an income, your stewardship provides for your family.
What makes this book stand out in its genre?
It has an element of how-to, but so much of the text is Holly Pierlot’s personal story. She underwent such a radical transformation to find contentment in God. Pierlot is an interesting person, even a little intense at times.
It’s fascinating to read someone go 180 degrees. Her personal testimony adds so much credibility to the idea of a Mother’s Rule. If a loose-canon can build a calm, meaningful life, what’s stopping you?