Being the momma of young children can be very…. well, hard. And not just in a physically demanding and emotionally demanding kind of way. For many moms, motherhood brings about a new set of challenges as it relates to how we spend our time and how we relate to others. We never meant to become kind of isolated, not having meaningful conversations with our girl friends for sometimes weeks on end. We expected to be able to keep up on several things after having kids, but we just got busy. And we have very good intentions of serving our neighbors, meeting new friends, leading up a community event, whatever it may be. But somehow minutes turn to hours and hours turn to days, and a few weeks have gone by with a long list of “I really wanted to…”. Where did my time go? Where did my friends go?
How did I become so lonely?
Thankfully this book is not about how to cram more into your life, or how to schedule your day down to the minutes so that you can do all this and more! For this I am so thankful, Mrs. Tracey Bianchi. Instead, Tracy offers up some ideas on how we can learn to live into our own life rhythm. She says, “learning to identify healthy life rhythms is important because they powerfully transform our parenting, our relationships, and our communities by giving us the space to settle into natural opportunities for connections” (11).
Competition giving way to Invitation
We all need each other. Mothering is often marked by feelings of competition- whether we feel like we’re winning (pride) or losing (inadequacy). Often times these underlying assumptions about who we are or who we need to be hinders our ability to authentically connect to other women.
Even if we aren’t the ones lonely and in need of a set of meaningful relationships (oh the lucky few!), there are many other mommas out there just looking for a friend. Tracey quotes author Adele Calhoun- “Invitations challenge and remake us. They can erode and devastate. And they can heal and restore us. Being wanted, welcomed, invited, and included are some of the most mending experiences on the planet” (36). Especially for those of us who are Christ-followers, I have this sneaky suspicion that our mission of being agents of reconciliation is somehow connected to these potentially mending experiences. There are a lot of lonely moms out there and we rub shoulders with them everyday. We don’t even have to go out of our way to meet them! They’re in our churches, in our mom’s clubs, at the park playing with their kids, and dropping their kids off at preschool. Relationships begin with invitations.
Connecting in every realm
There are all kinds of areas that we interact with people, and in each of these areas we can find a rhythm that works well. Tracy dedicates a chapter to each set of relationships- immediate family, extended family, our spouse, our girl friends, and our broader community, helping us think through where we’re at and how it could be revitalized to create an environment of real relational connection. How can we drop our attitude of judgment and just give other mommas the benefit of the doubt? How can we be fully present with our children? How can we slow down so that we can enjoy each other as opposed to being so caught up in “getting stuff done”? These chapters are full of ideas for all kinds of moms in the many walks of life.
At the end of each chapter, Tracy offers 5 practical steps, a couple questions, and a list of resources (books, websites, sermons, youtube videos) that one can go to for further depth on what she talked about. Through her lists, I discovered several books and websites that I haven’t heard of before and my reading list has now become longer (I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing).
I just really liked this book. It met me where I am, helped me to think through some things that I hadn’t paid much attention to before, gave words to some things I had been thinking about, and just made me laugh.
I think the most important thing Tracey communicates through this book is the importance of living an invitational life- to live a life that is always inviting others into it. I have met a few of these kind of women in my life and can I say that they have blessed me so much. I aspire to live this way as well, and not just because I want to be kind, but I’ve only become more and more convinced that it is through relationships that the Kingdom comes.
P.S. I think it’s fair to point out that Tracey is a blogger and so the book certainly reflects that style of writing and organizing. For some this may be slightly annoying, but I think if you know that going in, it’ll help you to better enjoy your reading experience.
Thank you Baker books for providing me this complimentary copy to read in exchange for an honest review!