I remember my school days. I would spend the day with my friends, ride the bus home sitting with them, and then run home to jump on the phone to talk some more. (What did we talk about so much??!!) And then I grew older. And got married. And had children. And when I really needed friends the most, I realized that by being so busy with just daily obligations, I had let one of the most important support systems in my life diminish – friendships. Why is is that when we enter parenthood and really need the encouragement and sounding boards that friends can offer, that we tend to let them slip away?
Jill Savage along with her daughter, Anne McClane, have written a book that addresses a very real need that mothers should recognize in their latest book, Better Together, Because You Are Not Meant to Mom Alone. The book begins with why we need to belong to a “mommy tribe”. The following benefits are covered:
- A Sense of Belonging
- The Ability to Give
- The Ability to Receive
- Sounding Board
- Wisdom and Experiences of Others
- Marital Health
- Spiritual Health
- Emotional Health
- Physical Health
You should not be expecting one friend to meet all of your needs. And not all friends will last you a lifetime; some are put in your life for a particular season. Personally, I have friends that I can discuss homeschooling with – they are other moms that can identify with the challenges that I face and don’t quickly suggest to just put my kids in school like non-homeschool moms do. I have friends that I go to for spiritual advice or marriage advice. They are usually quit a bit older than me and aren’t in the same parenting season that I am in but they have “been there, done that” and I can learn from their wisdom. Even my very best friend who could meet almost every criteria couldn’t sympathize with juggling five kids as she only had one.
As the old saying goes, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, the same goes for friends. I am very private. I don’t get close to many people. I would say that I have plenty of acquaintances but few friends. (I think it’s a trust issue…) Anyway, about fifteen years ago, I met Beth. She was almost ten years older and had only one son. I thought we had very little in common when we first met. But she was persistent 🙂 I am terrible about reaching out or keeping in touch with people. No worries, Beth decided we were going to be best friends and she called me sometimes two or three times a day. I liked to tease her that she eventually wore me down. She was extremely outgoing, never met a stranger, tall and skinny. I was her complete opposite. But together, we were a complete balance. She became the best friend I ever had. She was one of those friends you could call in the middle of the night and talk for an hour if you needed it. Then, almost exactly two years ago now, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She had gone to the emergency room, was diagnosed and admitted. Only eighteen days later, she passed away. (I still cannot type this without crying.) There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her.
When it first happened, I immediately shut down. What’s the point of finally allowing someone to get close and then suffer if they leave? The pain was simply not worth it to me. I shut out everyone. And then as life happens, I reached a point that I desperately needed someone to talk to. Someone that could share whatever I was going through. I have found that I constantly have to reach beyond my comfort zone. I have to learn to open up more. To trust. And to realize that I might never find one more friend that can fit as many needs as Beth did but I can find a friend to meet each need. Slowly but surely, God is putting friends in my life. It’s still hard but I realize how necessary it is.
The past year, I’ve had parenting challenges that I never thought I would face. Once again, I started shutting down. Do you know how hard it is to talk to someone about what you see as your own biggest failure? Then I found a few other moms that have been through similar struggles. I thought I was drowning but they became my life boat. Hard times will also show you what friends you can really rely on. Friends that I thought would always be there, stepped aside. Again, I was tempted to just shut everyone out.
And that’s the exact time that Better Together came into my life. I realized the importance of girlfriends and that it is not fair to expect my husband to fill those needs that only other moms can. I also learned more about myself by taking the Mothering Personality Inventory quiz located in the appendix. (I’m an Introvert, Internal Processing Person, an Outie organizer, Spontaneous mom and Medium-Low Capacity Person. And I’m also not sure that I’ve always been this way….).
Better Together not only gives you the why for having other mommy friends, but how to get them. Seriously, where was this book years ago??!! There are suggestions for where to find friends, conversation starters and even activities to do together. You can easily navigate the stages of friendships from TBF (Trying to Be Friends) to MBF (Might Be Friends) to GGF (Good Girlfriend) to those rare BFF (Best Friend Forever).
At the end of each chapter, there’s a Something to Think About that offers you a chance for deeper thinking and then also a Friendship Assignment. I especially love all the golden nuggets found in the appendixes which includes ideas for co-ops and Bible verses to share to encourage one another.
Jill Savage the founder and CEO of Hearts at Home, an author and speaker. While this is Anne McClane’s first book, she blogs about motherhood at Everyday Small Things.
I received a free copy of this book from SideDoor.com in exchange for my review. All opinions expressed are my own and no other compensation was received. You may read my full disclosure here.