It started out simply enough. Back in May, some friends and I sat chatting at a FWMoM social event. Of course our conversation inevitably turned, as it always does, to our kids. One particularly amiable mom’s twins are about ten months younger than my triplets and she wondered aloud about how to begin gently guiding her year and a half year old girls in their behavior as their personalities blossomed and their independence soared. I realized during that conversation that really, I was in need of a discipline revamp in my life as my once extremely compliant 2 year old had become an emotional whirlwind of a 4 year old and I had a new crop of three 2 year olds who were, let’s say, less than compliant. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. Well in this case, as I realized my need for a different approach to discipline in my household, necessity became the mother of a book club!
When I found a book that resonated with me, No-Drama Discipline, by Siegel and Bryson, I invited my friend to join me in reading and discussing the book, hoping to hold myself accountable to studying the book for my own benefit and perhaps support my friend as she navigated the same hurdles. We decided to open it up to the club to see if any other moms would be interested and were they ever! We had 22 moms register to be members of the group initially, with double that eventually joining our online discussion forum. With this format, moms unable to make the weekly meetings (set up as a play date, with the kids playing on a shaded, gated playground while the moms discussed the book each Tuesday morning over six weeks in the summer) could still benefit from the group by reading the chapter and responding to a weekly chapter summary and discussion questions. Before the first six sessions were even over, we all knew we weren’t ready for it to end; we wanted more! We not only decided on a second book to read together, The Importance of Being Little, by Christakis, but also on a name for our fledgling group: Overbooked (a play on words for all these exceedingly busy moms of multiples!). Although we have only had the pleasure of analyzing two texts through these studies together, we all have the same goal in mind: to explore issues that are important to moms. Together. Because this life as a mom to many young children is hard. Beautiful, but more difficult and demanding than maybe any of us knew. But there’s strength in numbers. There’s strength in moms coming together with a common objective; working to make all of us better. Together.
So, yes, it started out simply enough. Now though, months later, it feels less simple. Although it is still uncomplicated, just a group of mom friends meeting up so our kids can play and we can talk, it’s far from simple. As we sit, discussing the weekly chapter, we are the recipients of multiple blessings afforded by this group. First, the motivation to actually finish that book sitting on the nightstand! I know I speak for many moms of young children when I say my relationship with books has been largely pushed to the backburner as the daily tasks of caring for my home and family have begun taking so much of my “free time.” With weekly meetings, we have broken these books into very manageable pieces at one chapter per week. There is incentive to being able to actively participate in discussion and the books we have chosen so far have been ones that push us to evaluate our parenting strategies and how we love on and enrich the lives of our children.
Through our weekly conversations and exchange of ideas, we gain new perspectives from each other and benefit from other moms’ experience in a way we otherwise couldn’t. Although I knew many of these moms before the book club started, I didn’t know their parenting styles well. I might not have shared my struggles as a mom so openly in any other forum, thus missing out on the encouragement and advice I’ve received.
Primarily though, we are deepening our relationships with one another. As our club membership grows by the day, it becomes increasingly important to slow down and take the time to really get to know one another, to find other moms with similar interests, moms with whom we can share ideas and wisdom and glean some mothering wisdom in return. As an added bonus, our children are also socializing with one another, making relationships and navigating those budding relationships through play (and of course, some playground conflict).
It’s messy; not once have we ever met and not been interrupted multiple times by kids wanting snacks, needing attention in one way or another, getting into disagreements with each other during their play. But it’s the kind of messy that resonates as comfort and familiarity, the kind of messy that feels like family.
Author: Emily is a stay at home mom to Caroline, 5, and 2.5 year old triplets, Jameson, Shepherd, and Audrey. She loves to play board games with her husband, Clint, and she serves on the board as the social coordinator for FWMoM.