“I’m a better mom because of the women in my life,” I shared with a small group of moms gathered underneath the playground equipment where our kids and grandkids played. “Just knowing I’m not alone has done wonders for me!” Through more than 30 years of parenting, I’ve found that building my mom tribe was one of the most important parenting strategies I could ever have. Why? Simply put: We mom better when we mom together.
We love better
My friend Patty and I both have a strong-willed child. But Patty was the epitome of patience with her daughter. The more I was around Patty, the more patient I became with my high-energy child. Patty helped me love my child better from her toddler through her teen years. Today our strong-willed kids are both young adults, and Patty and I are still helping each other as we learn to let go.
We learn better
One of the biggest benefits of having a tribe is being able to access the strengths of other moms. It was my friend Kendra who introduced me to the “glorified brownies” recipe that became a family favorite! Becky gave me the taco stew recipe I’ve made for years. Crystal inspires me to be creative when organizing things. She also has a great eye for decorating and has helped me redecorate a few rooms using items I already had. Truly, my life, home, food and habits have been greatly influenced by my circle of moms.
We laugh better
I’m a Type-A driven personality who always has a “to do” list going in my head. Fortunately, I have women in my mom community who lighten me up. They encourage me not to take myself so seriously and they help me laugh with my child when my natural tendency would be to correct. I’m a better mom because I have women around me who help me find humor in my somewhat-serious life.
We live better
Crisis is never on the calendar. In the past five years, I’ve dealt with one son’s mental health issues, weathered my husband’s depression and navigated my own breast cancer diagnosis. I didn’t plan for or expect any of those challenges. Yet they came. When crisis hits, there’s no time for investing in friendship. The investment needs to happen during the good times so we can make “withdrawals” during the hard times. I’m grateful the women in my world stepped in during each of these hard seasons to help me handle the daily tasks I simply couldn’t get to, such as meals, laundry and even making sure my kids got to wherever they needed to be.
We launch better
I was talking with a friend who had just sent her first child to college. As a mom who is soon to launch her fifth child into adulthood, I shared with her how our youngest, who is still in college, comes home quite often to see his girlfriend — not his dad and me. I said with a giggle, “Sometimes we don’t know he rode the train home until he shows up to sleep for the night.”
“Really?” she said. “That makes me feel so much better because our son recently came home and didn’t tell us until he arrived.” I shared some strategies my husband and I had used to improve our son’s communication, but also reassured my friend that this was a normal part of the launching process.
We share better
As we grow to know each other, authenticity is important. As women, we tend to compare how we think and feel on the inside (our insecurities and failures) to how other women look or appear (perfection) on the outside, which causes us to come to the wrong conclusions about each other. The more “insides” we share openly, the more we pull away from the ledge of comparison and plant ourselves on the firm foundation of reality.
Go ahead and share your “mom fail of the day” with a girlfriend. Snap a picture of your toy-strewn family room and post it on Facebook. Over coffee, share hard lessons you’ve learned in marriage. Ask a friend to pray with you for that child of yours who makes one poor choice after another. Don’t worry, she won’t think less of you. She’ll likely respect you more for your honesty! Not only that, but she’ll probably respond with, “Me too!” The Bible tells us, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
It takes time to invest in friendships, but we desperately need other moms in our world. Don’t try to go it alone. Remember, we mom better when we mom together!—Jill Savage is founder of Hearts at Home and is the co-author, along with her daughter Anne, of Better Together: Because You’re Not Meant to Mom Alone.