Help With Your Mother's Rule

Help With Your Mother's Rule is a forum for women who want trouble-shooting help with their Mother's Rules or about any aspect of the 5 Ps of the married vocation.

Ask Holly: This blog is composed of your questions. Contact me at the address listed on Holly's Helpers page and I will respond. Please share your unique ideas as well. The more ideas and experience we share, the more successful every mother will be in designing her own unique Mother's Rule.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Almost-Empty-Nest Mom & a Mother's Rule

Dear Holly,
Well, it is finally here. My youngest child is graduating from high school and will be entering college out of state at the end of the summer. I have been a stay-at-home mom for 28 years and homeschooling for 15 years. I have been practicing a Rule of Life for about 5 years and I just don't know what to do now.

How do I create a new balance between Person/Partner/Parent now that the Parent part is not looming so large? I don't know how to describe my feelings about this. I guess that I am a trifle distressed by this. I have set aside so many dreams and hopes while raising my children and now I am overweight, middle-aged woman who isn't sure what she wants to do anymore.


  1. I am struck by your words because I too have been undergoing part of the same shift as my children mature - one is away at college normally , one has graduated and one is almost there. I have only 2 at home now to homeschool, and have already begun to feel that 'change'. For you, this has progressed to it's completion.

    And now you are finding yourself at the end of a phase. But this same end, true to the way Christianity flows, is also a new beginning - as fresh as the new start offered you when YOU completed high school. You have another few decades of life to live, to give, to serve through. Your aim needs to be to take stock of this - thank God for the graces of the vocation he has given you to date, pray for your children in an ongoing fashion, and now begin to assess and discern the NEXT 28 years.

    When I reach your place, I will be doing a couple of things. I will make a retreat for a week or so to begin to put myself in a new headspace for God's new mission to me. I will take stock of my faults and begin to devise a plan to work on them. I will also account for the key issues that are used in Youth Ministry to direct students into their life work: Talents, Interests and Needs.

    Discerning a new direction depends upon these three factors in combination with prayer. Take stock and examine yourself on these areas:
    What are the talents God has given me, combined now with my life experience?
    What interests do I have in relation to further study, formation or development of talent?
    Where do I see a need in society where I could apply myself through these talents and interests?

    Perhaps helping homeschoolers would be one route - assisting in a co-op or mentoring. Or perhaps not! Perhaps there are other talents and interests you have put on a back shelf for a long time that can now be brought to the fore, developed and placed at the service of God and man for the betterment of society and the salvation of others. Examine the steps you need to take to begin to move in this direction.

    And do not fear about your 'age'. I knew a priest who re-trained in Marriage & Family studies when he was 50 years old, and has done now a long 25 years of ministry to families. Didn't JPII become Pope at 58? As long as there is breath in us, there is time to learn, grow and serve. Realize how much time you have left - and decide to make it count. Leave this world in better shape than what you presently find it. Upon your death bed, be able to say - "I served!" "Serviam" - the opposite of the devil's rejection of God's Will at Creation, I may add...

    Metaphorically - you've graduated from homeschooling now. Where are you going to go to college? Or are you going to get a job? :-)
    Allow yourself to get excited by what God still has in store for you!

  2. This is a very interesting post.

    I have been an empty nester for the past 15 years. I was a stay at home mom while my children were growing up and I find times where I long for those days to return. Never the less I have found I am far more busy now then I was during my children's younger years.

    I put together my Mother's Rule about 5 years ago - to bring about more structure to my very busy life and to re-establish a daily routine that for me, I require to maintain a feeling of sanity. I agree with much of Holly's post above, but would like to add to it from my experience of the last 15 years.

    I agree with the retreat idea, however; I would not limit it to a week. While realistically getting away for a week to a retreat house for a guided or silent retreat may be all one can accomplish for financial or other reasons, a retreat atmosphere can be maintained to some degree indefinitely at home.

    Although you may be doing much of what I suggest below, I suggest you first begin focusing on the question in the Baltimore Catechism - "Why did God make you?" Answer - "God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven." Armed with this question and answer and ready to deepen your relationship with God, I suggest you re-evaluate and rework your First P as necessary. If you had not included the following items, you may find you need to add the Liturgy of the Hours, daily Mass, weekly adoration, time for daily scripture reading, study of the Catechism and the saints, etc.

    The areas of discernment Holly mentioned above are very good guides. But don't be too hasty in making a decision. Remember, God's timeing is not necesarily our timing. Be patient and let God quide you. You may be surprised to see opportunities just popping up from seemingly no where, but be assured God is in charge.

    The first 5 years after my youngest left home I was a mess, my identity was totally tied up with being a "Mom". I am writing this reply because I hope to help you avoid this in your life. Finally in desperation (rather than seeking Him first) I surrendered every aspect of my life to God. It has been a wonderfully exciting experience.

    Some highlights since I made that decision. About 10 years ago I became a consecrated member of the lay apostolate the Missionary Servants of the Gospel of Life. I went on pilgrimage with Fr. Mitch Pacwa to the Holy Land in 2006. I currently work 4 days a week for our local Archdiocese in the Office for Pro-Life Ministry and am able to attend Mass on those days in the Cathedral. I am the Pro-Life Coordinator for my parish and publish our parish bulletin two months a year. I am the chairman of our local Catholics United for the Faith chapter and in this capacity help organize retreats, conferences and do other things to evangelize and promote pro-life and pro-family activities in the community. I belong to a women's prayer group devoted to the study of and deepening our relationship with our Blessed Mother. I go on retreat and or pilgrimage 2 or 3 times a year.

    Amidst all this I have 5 grandchildren whose ball games and school activities I attend. And while I will be a mother and grandmother forever, I have had to listen to God's quiet voice in prayer to understand my first responsibility to them is to love them and to be an example of living a faithfully Catholic life in a very dark world. Beyond that they will reach out when and if they need me, I just have be sure they know I am here for them.

    Finally I want to say as we get older, time passses more quickly and we move more slowly. It is a time where it does not seem we will be able to accomplish all we have to do, but provided we keep our focus on God and accomplishing his will in our lives we can be certain we are headed in the right direction.

  3. Hello Holly!

    I know this comment thread is a little old, but I don't know where else to ask my question.

    I was recently engaged and given your book. The engagement was called off last month but I still want to create a Rule for my life. I'm trying to just adjust it to my individual situation but I feel as if I'm adjusting ALOT of it.

    Other factors: I had moved from the US to Austria to be with my fiance. I was only there 2.5 months, but since I had planned on permanently moving there, I gave away my marketing clients here in the US (I owned my own company). I resigned from the boards I was on and pretty much "closed up" my life in the US. Now I've returned and am feeling lost. I am looking for a full-time job because I don't want to spend the time building up my company again. I'm single, have no commitments to any organizations and live with my grandmother right now until I get a full-time job. So, I have a lot of flexibility, but that also makes me feel lost. I also feel like if I make a rule now, it will completely change as soon as I get a job, but I also know that I need a Rule to help me right now. And it's hard to incorporate the spiritual aspects of the Rule when I don't have 2 of the 5 P's. I still believe motherhood is my vocation so I was thinking of just studying more about motherhood and marriage as a way of incorporating those two P's.

    Another factor is that I have ADD and would love to do the Rule as a spiritual way of having a schedule.

    Anyways, any help or direction you can give me would be great. Thank you for writing such a wonderful book!