Today’s post comes from my friend Brenda Yoder who just released a book for parents titled Fledge: LaunchingYour Kids Without Losing Your Mind. It was my pleasure to not only endorse this book, but to also write the foreword for it (a first for me!). As a friend and mom who is a stage ahead of me in life, I have learned so much from Brenda over the years about life and parenting. I know you’ll love her and Fledge.
Be sure to leave a comment on this post to be entered to win a copy of Fledge. Let me know if you share the post on social media, and you’ll get an extra entry in the drawing! Now, here’s Brenda:
“I desire friendship,” I wrote in my journal as the tears dripped down my cheek. I had mom grief—the feelings moms have experiencing multiple losses in the fledging season when your older child or children are leaving your nest but you’re still parenting others.
I thought it was selfish of me to write what I did. I had friends. Yet, the more accurate description of people in my life would be relationships. Work relationships, Facebook and Instagram relationships–relationships with moms I used to be close with and now I just say “hi” to at school or community events.
Then I realized what was missing. I missed calling a friend for a play date because we both had time. I missed when our families would hang out before ballgames, birthday parties, and chauffeuring kids to their social events took over. I missed the friends who are now empty nesters and living a life that’s different than mine. I missed the weekends my husband and I spent with other couples learning how to make our marriages and families better for the years to come.
Because the years-to-come-years are here and I can barely keep up while life speeds by. The little time I have is spent with my kids and husbands. Who has time for friends?
The Friends That Are
Before I wrote Fledge, I wrote a blogpost about friendship and grief during this fledging stage and women overwhelmingly connected with similar feelings. Cultivating friendships while parenting teens is hard because work, concerts, sporting events, church, and chauffeuring kids sucks every hour out of your day. The time or energy that’s left is directed towards those who need you the most—your kids, husband, and in many cases, aging parents.
Friendship and peer relationships change during the parenting years. Older friends who are empty nesters and grandparents move on with their life without high schoolers or younger kids while you’re still volunteering for the choir fundraiser. Younger peers whose kids are friends with yours might lack common connections like older children, midlife angst or aging parents. Other friends may have life-altering experiences that cause them to pull away—death of a child, a divorce, addiction, or problems their children. In the recent cultural climate, you may find friends you were once close with have differing political, moral, social, or spiritual views that cause division between you.
I’ve experienced most of these scenarios as a mom raising teens for over a decade.
Here are 7 things I’ve learned as I’ve process friendships and parenting during the fledging season.
1. Pursue important friendships during the fledging years.
Most moms during this stage have little time or energy left after pouring into the needs of their children and marriage on top of work and other responsibilities. Reach out to those you value and want to keep connections with. Text them when you think of them even if you can’t get together in person as much as you’d like.
2. Pursue reciprocal friendships.
One-sided friends are draining. Spend time with people who care about you and give back to the relationship as much as you give.
3. Value other relationships in your life.
Many relationships are tied to a particular role—a coworker; mentor; team mom; encourager; bible study leader; committee member, etc. These relationships might be meaningful to you in ways that are different than a girlfriend.
4. Give grace and kindness to other women you have grown distant from or who may not be in your life anymore for various reasons.
People change and often go separate ways because of various life experiences, many of them hard–embarrassment because of a child’s choice or behavior, mental health issues, a broken marriage, addiction, or circumstances out of a parent’s control. Grace is so much better than judgment because each of us don’t know if or when we may find ourselves in a place where we need grace, too. You may have to set boundaries with some friends, but you can still extend grace.
5. Give grace to yourself.
You may think you’ll never have time for important friendships again. As I look at women in the season ahead of me, I realize the friendships pursued during this season are the ones that will probably be around in ten, twenty, and thirty years from now as we sit over coffee and laugh like the old ladies on greeting cards. The same will hopefully be true for you. For now, give grace to yourself rather than feeling rejected or left out.
6. Cultivate a variety of friends.
Having friends from different age groups that aren’t centered on your children’s lives are meaningful—women from work or areas where you have common interests. I have friends anywhere from ten years younger to fifteen years older than myself. These friendships provide meaningful connections even though they are not friends personally connected with my family.
7. Be thankful if you have one or two friends who have your back.
Social media has you believe most women have a plethora of Insta-girlfriends and BFF’s. In reality, pastor Chuck Swindoll says if you have 1-2 people who you would call intimate friends, then you are blessed. Most people rarely have more than a handful of people they can truly trust through thick and thin. If you have at least one friend who will be there for you when things are rough, be thankful.
So hold on, Mama. Being a mom can feel lonely right now. Like other changes in this season of life, it won’t last forever. But it is how things are now and some days it just doesn’t feel good. In it all, give yourself grace.
*Leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing for a copy of Fledge. What resonated with you most about these 7 points? Share this post on Social Media for an extra entry!
For more on everything in the fledge stage of parenting–how to parent both teens and adults, aging parents, facing midlife, mom grief, identity, and everything in between, get Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind. It’s available online and at major retailers. Join me on Facebook for our upcoming Fledge Parenting Forum, and on Instagram, Twitter, and at the Life Beyond the Picket Fence blog at brendayoder.com
Brenda Yoder is a national speaker, author, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and life coach whose passion is encouraging others when life doesn’t fit the storybook image. Authentic and humorous, Brenda connects with women and moms in a way that will have you laughing and crying all at the same time.
Her new book, Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind is a personal handbook for parents in the season of raising and releasing kids. Brenda’s been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul books: Reboot Your Life and Confident and Curvy; the Washington Post, and For Every Mom. Her first book for busy moms, Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All released in 2015.
Brenda is also former teacher and school counselor and was twice awarded the Touchstone Award for teachers. Her ministry, Life Beyond the Picket Fence, is found at brendayoder.com where she writes about faith, life, and family beyond the storybook image. Brenda is a wife and mom of four children, ranging from teens to adults, and lives on a farm in Indiana. You can connect with Brenda on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Join her Facebook page to follow the new Fledge Parent Forum for moms releasing their kids.