Being a mom is hard, but it doesn’t have to be lonely.
Are you trying to do this mothering thing alone? So focused on the kids that you’re hungry for friendships of your own? Have good friendships, but you want to enjoy them more?
Jill Savage, mother of five, knows those challenges well, and she’s here to help. Presenting a compelling vision of motherhood as a group effort, Better Together shows how you can:
- Combat isolation and enjoy a supportive mothering community
- Increase your social confidence and stop the comparison game
- Deepen your friendships as you share life with others
- Strengthen trust and build friendships without fear
- Increase your joy and thrive as a mom
All these things are possible. Dive into this storehouse of creative ideas for how to make mothering easier, richer, and more fun than you ever thought it could be.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
JILL SAVAGE is an author and speaker who is passionate about encouraging families. She is the author of nine books including Professionalizing Motherhood, My Hearts At Home, Real Moms...Real Jesus, Living With Less So Your Family Has More, and her most recent bestselling release No More Perfect Moms. Featured on Focus on the Family, Crosswalk.com, and as the host of the Heartbeat radio program, Jill is the founder of Hearts at Home, an organization that encourages moms. Jill and her husband, Mark, have five children, two who are married, two granddaughters, and one grandson. They make their home in Normal, Illinois.
Read an Excerpt
Because You're Not Meant to Mom Alone
By JILL SAVAGE, Anne McClane, Elizabeth Cody Newenhuyse
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2016 Jill Savage
All rights reserved.
Where It All Begins
* * *
One year after our first Hearts at Home conference, I found myself driving across town alone in my filthy minivan filled with car seats and five weeks' worth of Sunday school papers. I was having a conversation with God about the unexpected place He had me. I was leading a moms group in our church that had held what was supposed to be, a one time conference for moms. We expected 400 moms to attend and 1,100 showed up. It seemed that God's vision was much bigger than mine. We were now within a few weeks of our second conference and over 2,800 women had already registered to attend! We had assembled a board of directors, incorporated as a nonprofit, and were growing faster than I felt I could keep up with.
"You have to be laughing, God," I exclaimed with a mix of humor and resignation. "You now have me leading a huge ministry to moms and I DON'T EVEN LIKE WOMEN!"
I'm a late bloomer when it comes to female relationships. Growing up, most of the kids in our neighborhood were boys. My two sisters and I played softball with the neighborhood guys in the empty lot next to our house nearly every night during the spring, summer, and fall. Even though I went to all twelve years of school in the same school district, I never had one girlfriend who was my "best friend since first grade" as some people have.
I did have friends who were girls. I went to a few birthday parties and sleepovers over the years. Some girls eventually moved into the neighborhood and we had fun together ... playing baseball in the side lot. I also had some girlfriends I ate lunch with in high school.
Maybe it was growing up in a neighborhood of boys, or maybe it was being attracted to the simplicity of guy friendships, but female friendships weren't exactly a priority for me. I liked my guy friendships because they seemed to be less complicated. These weren't boyfriends ... just guy friends who didn't get their feelings hurt easily, communicated at face value, and protected me fiercely. They were more like the big brothers I never had.
I met some friends late in high school and I spent a year living in a sorority my freshman year of college (that, honestly, never really met my friendship expectations), but I never seemed to really "click" with the whole girlfriend thing in my younger years. While I privately longed to have girlfriends to share secrets with, laugh together, and talk on the phone for hours, I summed it up in my mind that I just wasn't meant to have many girlfriends and I needed to be content with what I had.
And then I became a mom.
Suddenly I had this desire to spend time with other women who understood what my life is like. I needed to learn from them. I needed to know if what my kid was doing was normal. I needed to know if my feelings were okay. More than anything, I needed to know I wasn't alone! Seeking female friendships to meet those needs, I discovered that I longed for a mothering community around me, but I had no idea how to find one.
I stumbled my way through those early years of mom friendships. I lived far from family, so my friends became family. I experienced both the high of "doing life" with other moms and the low of being rejected by some I thought were my friends. I've made lifelong friends and experienced friendship "breakups." I've come to learn that my personality and temperament affect the number of friends I will likely have. I've discovered that some friendships are seasonal and others are lifelong. Finally, I've learned some strategies along the way for making friends, keeping friends, and even understanding when it's okay to let a friendship go. I hope you're ready to dig into all of that, because the truth is, we need each other. We need to be with other women who understand our world of mothering, but most of us struggle with some aspect of making those relationships work.
Friendships change as motherhood changes. That's why I'm glad to have my daughter Anne writing with me. Anne just turned thirty. She's been married nine years and is the mother of a preschooler and a kindergartner. Anne has moved to a new community in the past eighteen months and has been knee-deep in forging new friendships. She's also never known motherhood without social media and the reality of "friend" being both a noun and a verb. Anne is an at-home mom who runs a day care in her home. Her experiences and season of life will likely resonate with some of you.
I, on the other hand, am just on the edge of the empty-nest season of life. With my youngest in college, I'm discovering a new season of life where friendships are no longer knit together by our kids' activities. Many women in my season of life are working full-time, which greatly factors into this friendship thing as well.
Anne and I have collaborated throughout the book, but we've chosen to write only in my voice. Anne's stories are woven in and out of chapters, but some of Anne's are also set off by themselves in ways that will help present a concept you can think about more deeply. We hope this makes reading easier for you!
Anne and I asked our online communities what challenges they found in mom friendships and what topics they would like to see addressed on these pages. I bet you can relate to some of these:
How can we pursue relational depth without the drama?
What do I do when I feel left out even as an adult?
How do I find time to build friendships?
How do I take a friendship deeper?
What do we do with the comparing we tend to do in friendships?
These are great questions and we're going to dig into every one of them plus more! Most of us face relational struggles in some way. Too often we think we're the only ones struggling, but that's not true at all. We're just not exactly willing to advertise, "Hey, I'm struggling with friendships" on Facebook, in our Bible study, or even in our moms group for fear of appearing like we don't have it together.
Looking back over the past thirty years of mothering five children, I can truly say I am who I am because of the women who have been in my life. I'm glad I pushed through the struggles, chose to risk again after being hurt, and learned some relational wisdom to navigate the sometimes-rocky waters. My mom friends have grown me in my organizational skills, my parenting, my marriage, and my spiritual life. I've been cared for, encouraged, corrected, and loved on by the women in my life. More than anything else, I've truly come to understand that we really are better together.
WHY ARE MOM FRIENDS SO IMPORTANT?
There's a new business in the community I live in that gathers women together to make freezer meals in a home party type of setting. I'm not a home party girl at all, but when I'm going to end up with ten meals in the freezer in less than ninety minutes and someone else does the shopping, food prep, and cleanup, you've got my attention! I put an event invitation out on Facebook and had twenty women join me at a party I hosted. Most of the ladies who came didn't know one another because they were all from different parts of my life — some from church, some from a moms group I used to go to, some from Hearts at Home where I work, some from online relationships I've built, and a few women came because they were friends of someone who was coming.
As we assembled the main dishes for these meals, we broke down into five groups of four. Each group was in charge of assembling two of the recipes. We formed an assembly line of sorts, putting together twenty of each recipe. After the first five minutes, you would have never known that these ladies didn't know each other. The buzz of conversation was electric. There was laughter, stories, and wisdom being shared. Toward the end of the party someone said, "This is so much fun! I'm sure this is what it used to be like when women would cook together more often."
A century ago, extended family often formed a woman's natural mothering community. While quilting with aunts and sisters-in-law, marriage wisdom was passed along. While cooking with your mom and grandmother, parenting knowledge was shared. While scrubbing clothes with sisters and friends, homemaking tips were discussed. If a mom was sick, her community helped care for her kids. When a new baby was born, the village fed and cared for the new mom and her family. When there was a big project to accomplish, her tribe of mothers pulled together to help.
Today, many of us live away from our moms, aunts, sisters, and in-laws. Families are more independent in carrying out their household responsibilities. Even if a mom lives near her family, many older women are now in the workforce and just don't have the time or the opportunity to be together in the day to day — which is what it takes for regular interaction and natural conversation to happen.
Because our mothering community is no longer formed naturally within extended family relationships, we have to pursue, discover, and assemble it ourselves. We have to recognize the value of it and make it a priority in our lives because we're stronger, wiser, and even healthier when we have a mom community around us.
THE BENEFITS OF FRIENDSHIP
It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, "Many people will walk in and out of your life; but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart." Those footprints represent the impact, the influence, and the inspiration our friends give us. Exactly how are our lives enriched by friendship? Here are ten powerful benefits of friendship:
Benefit #1: Connection
Many women tell us that when they attended a Hearts at Home mom conference for the first time, they found themselves crying within the first few minutes of the conference. There's truly nothing happening that is that tear-producing, and many report that they are not really criers at all, but the impact of being with thousands of other moms and suddenly realizing you're really not alone is almost more than the heart can handle. The emotional response overflows in tears.
Being with like-minded people who really do understand your life in some way is very powerful. Having someone to talk with and share interests with adds so much richness to your life. Friendships keep us connected to the world outside of our home and family. They help us remember the important things in life and provide much-needed perspective no matter how we choose to connect.
Benefit #2: A Sense of Belonging
The human soul longs to belong. We want to know that people believe in us, approve of us, and accept us for who we are. Friendships provide a place where we're needed, we re contributing, and we re really known.
They also allow us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We can align with others who have the same beliefs, experiences, and interests. Sometimes we band with others to accomplish something together that we couldn't accomplish on our own. The "team spirit" we experience contributes to our sense of belonging. "We did this together!" might be said internally or aloud.
However, belonging doesn't just come from being a part of a group. It can be felt in smaller circles of friends as well. Small gestures, like when a friend sends you a text that she's thinking of you, communicate you're important to someone, being thought of, and are a part of their world.
Benefit The Ability to Give
When you care about and care for other people, it brings a sense of satisfaction to your own life. Your contribution to another person's well-being, your encouraging words, your physical help all contribute to your feeling of being needed.
We all need relationships we can contribute to. Yes, as a mom you're giving all the time, but that kind of giving is somewhat "required." When you give to a friendship, it's usually because you want to.
When we give to others, we feel closer to them. That "interconnectedness" builds a sense of community in our life. Giving time, energy, and encouragement enriches our lives and increases our capacity to love.
Benefit #4: The Ability to Receive
Most of us are much more comfortable giving than receiving. Yet, if we refuse to receive, we rob others of the joy of giving. A healthy friendship is a dance between the two.
We might receive comfort, encouragement, wisdom, knowledge, a shoulder to cry on, or practical help from a friend. Seasons of crisis may be times of receiving more than usual.
Friendships provide opportunities for us to admit our need for help. They give us the opportunity to open up our hands and our heart and allow others in. We benefit from learning to both give and receive!
Benefit Sounding Board
A good friend is the perfect person to run ideas past. She can listen, share in your excitement, or bring some much-needed perspective. Sometimes we need the wisdom of others or the viewpoint of someone who isn't as close to a situation as we are to help us keep our head on straight.
Friends are the ones with whom we can also share our dreams, frustrations, and fears. They provide a safety zone where we don't have to worry about being judged. With honesty in place, a good friend can also provide much-needed accountability. Sometimes we need a swift kick in the seat of our pants if we're off track in our thinking or need to look at something from another angle.
Benefit #6: Wisdom and Experiences of Others
My friend Tonya, who has a special education degree, shared with me wisdom about learning challenges our adopted son was facing as he learned a new language at the age of nine. My friend Lora helped me sponge-paint my hallway after she perfected her technique on her living room walls. My friend Julie, who is a doula, prepared me to be Anne's birth coach along with her husband, Matt. My friend Becky is a natural organizer who shares her wisdom when I'm overwhelmed and need help with a home reorganization project.
On the day I received my breast cancer diagnosis, I was an emotional mess. I ended up on my friend Crystal's doorstep. Crystal, a former nurse-practitioner-turned-homeschooling-mom, and I have been friends for many years. I needed Crystal's comfort as a friend and her wisdom and medical knowledge as an NP. I sat at her kitchen table, called my doctor's office back, and asked them to give Crystal all the info on my biopsy. She knew and understood the medical terms and she knew the questions to ask.
Friendships fill your gaps. They allow you to tap into the strengths of others. They broaden your knowledge in so many ways.
Benefit Marital Health
Husbands make terrible girlfriends, and honestly it's unfair to expect them to be something they're not meant to be. Women and men communicate differently. If he's like the majority of men, your husband will likely communicate factually. He'll want to fix any problems you talk to him about. He's great at giving you three ways to proceed.
A girlfriend, however, will likely communicate emotionally. She'll listen and empathize with your challenges. She'll make sure you know you're not alone as you journey through motherhood.
Not only that, but there are activities that your husband may not enjoy as much as you do, that a girlfriend might enjoy doing with you. If your husband isn't into going to the theatre, picking strawberries, or garage sale-ing, it might be better to do those things with a girlfriend who enjoys them as much as you do!
Benefit #8: Spiritual Health
A good friend can encourage you to keep your eyes on God's truth when you're tempted to believe the lies of the enemy. She can pray with and for you. She can send a Bible verse just when you need it.
The Bible tells us "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up" (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10a NIV). When faith is part of a friendship, you're able to share what God is teaching you and spur each other on to grow deeper spiritually. This benefit shores up the foundation of our life. Even if the friendship fades, the spiritual benefit can last a lifetime.
Excerpted from Better Together by JILL SAVAGE, Anne McClane, Elizabeth Cody Newenhuyse. Copyright © 2016 Jill Savage. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Where It All Begins
Chapter 2 Who Are You “Momming” With?
Chapter 3 Variety Is The Spice of Life!
Chapter 4 Learning Together: What a great idea! I can’t wait to try that out!
Chapter 5 Helping Together: You don’t need to do that job alone. I’ll help you!
Chapter 6 Caring Together: You’re not alone. We’re here for you.
Chapter 7 Sharing Together: Really? You feel that way too?
Chapter 8 Praying Together: I’m standing in the gap for you.
Chapter 9 Forgiving Together: I’m sorry, I let you down.
Chapter 10 Encouraging Together: You’ve got this! You can do it!
Appendix A Conversation Starters
Appendix B Mothering Personality Inventory
Appendix C Mom Co-ops
Appendix D 33 Bible Verses to Share with a Friend Going Through a Hard Time