Monday, August 1, 2016

Better Together by Jill Savage with Anne McClane (book review)

My MOMS (Mothers on a Mission) group is gearing up and I feel like "Better Together" by Jill Savage with Anne McClane should be our theme book. There are so many good things about this book, but I think just the overall message is my favorite: "Because You're Not Meant to Mom Alone."

Motherhood can be a really lonely time for so many moms. I remember when my boys were very small and we lived in communities that just weren't friendly. Not that they were mean but just isolating and lonely. I feel so blessed to be raising them in a community where there are more chances at relationship for me, but I still feel isolated at times (especially with it being summer and I have a baby who naps most of the day).

image via Amazon.com
Jill Savage and her daughter Anne McClane wrote this book together, and one of the opening questions is "Why are Mom Friends so Important?" I wish I could read this at my church to encourage women to come to our MOMS group no matter their parenting stage. It feels like so many women think a group like this is not for them when they don't have preschoolers, but I believe a mom group (whether MOPS or Moms in Prayer or a freezer meal group or anything else) is important for all moms because "A century ago, extended family often formed a woman's natural mothering community. While quilting with aunts and sisters-in-law, marriage wisdom 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 book goes on to explain the benefits of friendship: connection, 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, and physical health. It's just so helpful to know we're not alone, right?

Savage goes on to explain how to find friends, how your friends don't have to be mirror images of you, ideas on how to get together (once-a-month cooking, housework together - my favorite, kid exchanges, craft nights, or Christmas present wrapping, exchange parties, block parties, exercising together, etc). I personally love the idea of cleaning together. Anyone want to come help me fold laundry? I'll help you with yours!

 One of my favorite chapters is about helping others. The best advice I think I've ever been given is to allow people to bless you. If you say no to someone's help (whether a meal or cleaning house or money), then you are not allowing them the chance to bless you. They may need to do that. Just the other day I made a meal for someone and I NEEDED to do that. I needed to think about someone other than myself. Too often we are too prideful or fearful or something to accept help. Too often we are too busy or fearful or whatever to offer help. We're afraid of "owing" someone or failing (or seeming to fail). It is so important of us to put ourselves aside to help and accept help at different seasons in our lives. This past year with a new baby and a son's brain surgery, we've had to accept a lot of help. We so appreciate the people in our lives who were willing to step up to offer childcare, money, a meal, an encouraging note, prayers. I've learned to say yes to help and I'm learning to offer help in areas I can help.

 Next time someone is in need of help, "rather than saying, 'Let me know if you need anything,' try one of these offers:
 - I have next Thursday available; can I take your kids for a few hours?
 - I'd like to come clean your house for you; can I come do that on Tuesday?
 - I'd like to bring you dinner; will tomorrow night work?
 - I have two hours on Tuesday evening free. What needs to be done that is bugging you that I can do for you?
 - I'm headed to the store. Is there anything I can pick up for you?
 - I'm running some errands this afternoon. Can I drop by for a thirty-minute visit?
 - Here's a gift card and delivery menu - dinner's on us tonight."
Does that make it seem so much more manageable? And offering something specific takes the pressure off of the person you're helping to come up with something for you.

 At the end of each chapter in "Better Together," there are sections with Anne's perspective and Friendship Assignments. Nothing hard but just ideas to get you thinking about connecting with those you love.

I think every mom needs a copy of this book. It was just full of ideas and inspiration to get together and get connected. Motherhood is hard and I don't have all the answers and neither does anyone else but we can get the job done well if we work together.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others may or may not have the same opinions as I do.

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