Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Help on the Journey

I am re-reading Graced and Gifted by Kimberly Hahn, and I highly recommend it to all of our readers.

Kimberly writes like a big sister who gently guides you in what you need to know, humbly sharing what she has learned through experience. The introduction, which could stand alone as an article and which I plan to use with my mothers' group, explains the Five "P"s of the motherly vocation that Holly Pierlot introduced as part of the Mother's Rule of Life. These priorities -- prayer, person, partner, parent and provider in that order -- help a mother to get her bearings and create her plan. This concept was, to me, the best part of Holly's book, and Kimberly explains them beautifully and helps us to fit them into a life that feels more familiar to me than Holly's jump from total chaos to total structure. If, like me, you have read A Mother's Rule of Life and walked away inspired but totally confused and overwhelmed, you may find this book more helpful.

In the rest of the book, Kimberly leads us through a bible study of one of B-Mama's favorites, the Proverbs 31 woman, and uses anecdotes and advice to help mothers try to be like this woman. In each chapter she also explains one of the Catholic Church's seven sacraments. I have to state that the connections are a bit forced in some places, but still the explanations of the sacraments are a useful reference and reminder, helpful in apostolate to non-Catholic christians and also as we teach our own children.

Please note, you do not have to read A Mother's Rule of Life before reading this book, it stands alone and in fact is more helpful, in my opinion. Kimberly also has a bible study tape series on the subject of A Mother's Rule of Life, and which is more closely connected to that book.

Graced and Gifted by Kimberly Hahn is available from Catholic Company.


kathleenob said...

I read a Mother's Home Rule and gleamed some helpful points, however she organizes her life around the fact that she has older children to help in significant ways with both housework and the babies. I am not there. I think having just small children is a challenge, because temper tantrums and colic can make even folding one load of laundry difficult, but I am also realizing that this season of life is a lot of fun. We don't have to stress about soccer practice or school work. And there is the beautiful peace of the afternoon nap, which I know won't last forever, but I am grateful to God that my 2 1/2 year old still takes one! Anyway Holly's book may come in handy when I have a larger brood, but perhaps the Hahn book works for all stages of Motherhood.

kathleenob said...

My Husband just sent me this... surely he isn't thinking of me....

I won't if Kimberly Hahn addresses this issue of internet use in young moms. We are home a lot and are prone to throw cheerios on the tray, while we surf. Always a great area to struggle and re-examine.

I'm getting of now...

Mary Alice said...

I got hard core into the rule when my children were quite little, and then felt totally defeated when I could not complete the tasks on my chart. I think that Kimberly's book is, as you say, more universal.

I think that the Five p's are really helpful, and that often people have their priorities out of order, though we may all do it in different ways. Also, it was surprising and helpful to think that as a steward of my home I am a "provider" for my family, even though my husband is the one with the paycheck. Our money does what I tell it to, and if I am organized about hand me downs and things like that it makes a huge difference. I also steward our time by deciding about classes and activities, which is huge.

The first P is prayer, and I found that a rather simple plan of life that was flexible but still a little bit challenging was best for me. I have pegged some of my prayer life to tasks I do everyday, for example, when I tried to pray the Angelus at noon I would often miss it and throw up my hands saying perhaps tomorrow. Now, we pray the Angelus with our grace before lunch each day, and I know that Our Lady doesn't mind if it is 11:45 or 1 PM!

Holly strongly emphasizes monthly confession and I hugely agree with this, and know that if we do not schedule a time for it, it just will not happen. I go during the week and juggle the kids which is not ideal, I am trying to get a better system for that. Trading off with another SAHM is a good plan if taking off on a Saturday morning is not an option.

The main thing I gleamed from the rule is that if something is either consistently not getting done or a source of stress it needs a time slot. Over time I realized that these slots must be flexible because it is my nature to be too hard on myself and then give up! I try to check their nails for trimming on Mondays -- if we miss it one week, it will come around the next week, but at least they don't get claws, and I also don't stop what I am doing when I notice a long toe nail.

Kimberly's stuff on the Proverbs woman really stands apart from the Rule, helping us figure out what we are trying to be as women and why. This is crucial, because we may find that we are not trying to be what the world had planned for us, perhaps not even what we had planned for ourselves, and we need to have clear goals in order to grow in virtue.

Holly helped me to learn that there is a rhythm to almost everything we do, and that can really work in our favor. Now that I own a home, there are certain tasks that repeat themselves daily, weekly, quarterly and annually. A home notebook can be helpful, because where is the number for the tree guy when you need it?

Lastly, Kathleen, let me encourage you that your children will grow to be helpful very quickly. My oldest are six and seven and they do A TON, and my four year olds are more self sufficient than the big ones were at that age. I was surprised at how quickly it happened. If you can get a routine going now, it is easier to delegate and get them to help.

I tell people all the time that it doesn't matter how many children you have, but how old are your oldest and your youngest. Whenever I have a nursing baby it is, in some ways, like starting over, because we all need to get on that schedule again.

Catherine said...

Thanks for sharing all this, Mary Alice. I pushed myself to succeed at the Rule (sort of missing the point), and my great plans were eventually derailed by morning sickness. But I have kept trimming nails on Mondays too!

kathleenob said...

Mary Alice, thanks for the encouragement and advice. Holly's implementations of a Plan of Life is similar to what I have learned in Opus Dei and I did find her advice helpful. The things that I found overwhelming (and we don't have a house at this point) were the complicated lists and flow charts. We recently got a MAC and I have to say that their templates for home organization (shopping lists, exercise logs etc) are great organizational motivators as is the i-calendar. Anyway it's great to see how you builders do it!

B-Mama said...

MA, how did you know that Prov. 31 is one of my favorites? You're right on--it is beautiful! Have I written about it before? Mom brain can't remember. I'm impressed you do!

texas mommy said...

MA, I am so glad you posted your thoughtful comment. I am struggling right now to figure out what I "ought" to be doing with the hours in the day. I can't do most of the things that I want to get done, because my kids require constant supervision and we are going through a VERY rough bought of big brother fighting brought on by 3 year old's possessiveness. The consequences are enforced, but the problems continue. We cannot get back into a daily rhythm b/c of the constant disciplining. Literally, we can't even get through a picture book at this point and I am getting very frustrated. I am always encouraged to hear that some things will get easier when they get a little bit older.