You Don’t Have to Give Up Your Friends to Join a Moms’ Group

I recently read an article titled something like, Why You Shouldn’t Join a Moms’ Group. It was all about why new moms should just keep the friends they already have without making new friends. That old friends are way better and that it’s important to have friends without kids.

bag-gypsofilia-seeds-1716655_960_720On one level, I do agree with this author. When I had Bea, my friendships didn’t simply end. My friends without kids came over and showered my new baby with toys and clothes and food. They held her and cooed and reminded me that life was still normal, just a new normal. But then they went back to work and I stayed home with this new human, watching The Wonder Years on Netflix and wondering how I would fill our days.

When she was about six weeks old, I ventured to our neighborhood library for Book Babies and my life changed. I was invited to a Mothers of Preschoolers group at a nearby church and started going. Now, in addition to my pre-kid friends (who mostly have kids of their own now) I also have this group of women who have held my hands on this journey of motherhood.

My moms’ group stood by me during those fresh newborn days, though sleep training and milestones. Though toddlerhood and adding a sibling and potty training. My moms’ group talked about all those mothering things, yes. But we also talked about how we advocate as moms, how we remember social justice as we engage with our preschoolers. My new mom friends went with me to a conference on Race and Reconciliation and pushed my thinking of how to was the  engage with those radical ideas.

My moms’ group filled a void in my days that my friends without kids simply couldn’t. They held my babies and cooed and reminded me that life was still normal, just a new normal. I still get together with my friends without kids. I cannot imagine life without them. They push and shape my thinking. They love my kids with time and energy my mom friends just don’t have.

What made me sad about the article was that the author made it sound like an either/or choice. I understand that polarization sells, but you don’t have to give up your friends without kids in order to join a moms group – if that is a requirement, I’d encourage you to look into a new moms’ group. But that’s certainly not the norm.

Mother’s Day is this weekend and I know it can be a time of heartache for many women. The road to motherhood can be filled with trauma and tragedy and unmet expectations. It can be a stark reminder of a life wished for but not fulfilled. It can remind us of broken relationships with our own moms.

I still love celebrating Mother’s Day. I love remembering my own journey as a mother and I love taking time to remember those who have helped me on this journey. From my own mom and grandmothers to aunts and friends to whom was the friend-without-kids for so long. From my friends in my moms group to my friends without kids now.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is thank you. Thank you to my friends without kids who so graciously show up to my messy home and engage with my girls. Who offer perspectives and experiences that I often envy because of your freedom. Thank you to my friends who are ahead of me on this journey. Who offer hope and wisdom and a sense of humor to these little years. Thank you to my moms group friends who are right here with me in the trenches. Who commiserate and reminisce and laugh at our sweet and insane days. Thank you to my friends who started out as single girlfriends and who have grown into motherhood with me. For the patience and flexibility of the changing nature of our relationship.

Mothers Day is as complex a holiday as motherhood itself. I am thankful for the women in my life who have held me up through these first years of my own mothering journey.

How do you support the moms in your life? Did you ever join a moms group when you were a new mom?

Review: The Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd

As a new mom, my favorite books were not instruction manuals or sleep guides. Though these came in handy, the ones that I needed most and resonated with most were ones about the history of parenting (bottom line: you’re doing good) and raising kids the French way. They didn’t necessarily shape my own parenting practices but they reminded me that I was normal and tired and doing a pretty good job.

_140_245_Book.2209.coverThe Magic of Motherhood is a compilation of essays by the team at the collaborative mothering blog, Coffee + Crumbs. I’ve clicked over to this website a few times and I like the honest, chatty style. The authors do a good job of normalizing motherhood and reminding women that this is a tough road without much instruction. And that’s part of the magic.

Most of these essays focus on the little years. A few touch on the shift to mothering tweens, but most of the contributors are in the infant to early elementary school years. They are messy and emerging from sleep deprivation and close enough to the newborn years to not romanticize their sweetness.

Some essays were heartbreaking, of loss and infertility and navigating diagnoses. Others were funny and filled with wry observations of life with crazy small humans. My favorites were the ones in which I found myself nodding along. The one in which a stroller careened down a hill toward the river, babies strapped in, mom racing behind. I’ve never experienced this exact story but that feeling of, WHAT have I just done?! has definitely defined more days than I’d like to admit. Or the essay that reminded me that my husband and I really are in this together, even when we feel like ships passing in the night.

I think, as moms (both new and seasoned) we need to remember that there are more me too moments than we realize as this collection reminds me that I’m not alone and that I’m doing a pretty good job.

With Mother’s Day coming up next weekend, I’d highly recommend The Magic of Motherhood to a new mom in your life. I already know I’m gifting my copy to a friend celebrating her first mother’s day. I know she’ll laugh along and appreciate these essays as much as I did.

What is your favorite parenting book? How do you remember that you are not alone on this journey? 

I review for BookLook Bloggers
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Beyond Flowers & Brunch

Before we had kids, our dog, Daisy would send me a Mother’s Day bouquet at work. It usually came during a staff meeting (well done, Frank!) and the real mothers in the group were always a bit jealous. I never understood this until having human children. There’s definitely a difference. This year will be my first year of receiving a handmade gift. (Bea is having the hardest time keeping it a secret!) As our family has grown, the gift of time seems more and more appealing. Clearly, each year is different.

Before I start, let me say: I love fresh flowers and brunch so I’m definitely not knocking traditional Mother’s Day gifts. But, if you’ve procrastinated or just need some filler ideas, I have a few suggestions.

63972_10152997022327005_3404827055315220030_nFair Trade Friday
If your mom loves jewelry, Fair Trade Friday offers several monthly club options – from earrings and bracelets to a full box of goodies. Each item is handmade by women in vulnerable areas of our world. Each artisan receives a fair price for her product, giving her the resources and skills to become more independent. I’ve received both a box and earrings and love the unique quality they offer.

11960223_10206009339885032_1077253324444733695_nThe Mom Quilt
Over 60 moms contributed essays to this collection (including me!) It’s filled with a wide range of experiences and realizations. Compassionate, funny, and honest, the moms who have shared have done so from their current experiences, which makes this book encouraging for moms of all walks. Plus, all proceeds go to Mercy House Kenya, the same organization behind Fair Trade Friday. Mercy House equips young mothers with health education as well as job training.

12512411_10208144234217534_6513410687910768109_nLoving My Actual Life
My friend, Alex just wrote a book about loving the life we’re in right now. Whether or not you’re a mom, this book resonates with finding peace in our experiences. But, since Alex is a mom of four, this book will especially resonate with mothers who are in the mode of day-to-day and may need encouragement to step back and love their own messy, actual life.

The-Mother-Letters_cover_smallThe Mother Letters
just started this one, so can’t give it a full review. But, so far? These honest pieces of advice could be just the encouragement a mom in the midst of raising kids needs.

mercy-house-she-is-priceless-social-media7-460x307Give a Donation
Mercy House Global has compiled a list of organizations at sheispriceless.org that help empower mothers, specifically. Tuesday, May 10 is Global Giving Day, and they are encouraging women to wear pearls as a reminder of healed wounds. For the mom who has everything, empowering another mom may be the best gift.

If you’re a mom, what’s your favorite type of Mother’s Day gift? What’s a favorite gift you’ve given to your mom?