What these ladies did to turn a friend’s day around, and what they received in return

Love what these ladies did to turn their friend's day around. |the House of HendrixI love women. There is a universal bond between us that has its own language. We all package it differently, but deep down we understand that a great haircut or a few pieces of sea salted dark chocolate really can make us feel better, even if just temporarily.

We recognize the irony of wiping down our kitchen counters 10 times a day trying to control life even when our bathrooms haven’t been cleaned in weeks.

A while back I wrote a post about girlfriends, which had more than a million views. The comments and stories taught me that women crave authentic, deep relationships with each other, yet our insecurities and fear of being judged often get in the way.

This morning I had the privilege of seeing women at their best.

For the past year I have met with a small group of ladies who get together weekly for a Bible study in my friend’s home. These are not your ‘Have-it-all-together’ kind of ladies. They are real women with real struggles who are doing the best they can.

My friend, Michelle, has been battling a condition for 8 years that has her in periods of intense, chronic pain. Can you imagine 8 years of pain? She is understandably exhausted in body, mind and spirit, yet continues to push through with a smile on her face and a determination to not be defeated.

When she said that she simply didn’t have the physical energy to come to our small group this week, we understood the struggle behind her words. Simply cooking dinner for her family uses up everything she’s got.

My friend, Trisha, e-mailed our group suggesting we meet across town at Michelle’s house this week. I secretly wondered if Michelle would even want us in her home. However, that email was a spark that turned into something beautiful.

We showed up today at Michelle’s house IN OUR PAJAMAS because…Who wants a bunch of women in cute outfits in your home when you are in pain, right?

But my girlfriends didn’t just wear their jammies. They had their heads filled with ridiculous curlers and were wearing those oversized-cushy slippers not meant for the outdoors. They looked fabulous!Love what these ladies did to turn their friend's day around.

Each woman brought her own cleaning supplies too because…

Do you know what 12 women with cleaning supplies can do?

Deep clean a house in 30 minutes.

So as these curler and jammie-laden women got out of their cars with Swiffers, buckets, and feather dusters, my heart began to melt, because women get it.

A clean house when you are absolutely exhausted can turn your day around.

A gentleman walking his dog stared at us in the driveway and said, “I’m not even going to ask.” We laughed.This is why women rock. Absolutely love what these ladies did to turn their friend's day around.

How would you feel if 12 women with curlers and feather dusters showed up at your house. This is why women rock!

As we went inside our friend’s home, everybody scattered. No cleaning plan was necessary because as women we already knew.

Girlfriends at their best. Love this story of friendship

One woman immediately began stripping beds and starting the laundry. Another few headed straight for the master bathtub.

This is fabulous!  ADORE how these women turned their friend's day around. Girlfriends rock!

There is nothing like girlfriends! This story of what these ladies did to turn their friend's day around proves it.

Several women were stocking the refrigerator with dinners for the week.

I saw a friend pull out new board games and place them on the breakfast table for their children, while another took measurements to fix some broken curtains.Such a genius way to make a friend smile. Must read

We wrote out verses and words of encouragement on colorful index cards and taped them on mirrors, cabinet doors, and bedside tables…surrounding this home with encouragement.Hang words of encouragement or Bible verses were hung on mirrors, cabinets, and drawers.

To keep Michelle from trying to help, we gave her a deep tissue massage while her house was being cleaned. She closed her eyes and moaned as the burning sensations through her limbs lessened. As her pain fled, the checklist of things she deeply desired to do for her family got done.

Women understand. We need each other because life gets hard.

After we finished cleaning, we circled together giddy with excitement. Why women need each other.

One woman summed it up perfectly,

“This is the most joyful day I can remember.”

It truly was. Every woman there was invigorated and filled with delight from simply cleaning our friend’s home.

But that would never have happened without one thing:

a woman being vulnerable enough to humbly allow us in to see her dirt.

THAT is what makes this story beautiful. It was her willingness to be real which permitted 12 women the gift of overflowing joy.

Women don’t mind each other’s dirt. We crave the authenticity of it.

We’re wired to connect on a level beyond the superficial, but it requires vulnerability, and that can be scary.

Michelle reminded me of this today.

There is no greater privilege than when a friend welcomes you in just as she is…and just as you are.

Let’s stop striving for an image of perfection, and instead be exceedingly gracious in our judgments of both ourselves and others. THAT invites authentic relationships.

But more than anything, being real with our girlfriends gives us the opportunity to turn each others’ days around, and we need each other to get us through the dirt.

Allison

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When strangers become your people

 

 

We all have our people, the tribe of folks providing a safety net of security so that we can take courageous leaps that would otherwise paralyze us in fear. These are the same faces that breathe encouragement into us when we are broken and joyously with us celebrate in our highs.

We can live life more fully because of the support of our people.

This weekend I had the opportunity of attending the Allume writer’s conference in South Carolina. On my way home, I stopped through Atlanta for a night with my sister’s family.I love (cried through) this story about complete strangers who come together to become this 78 year old woman's people. | the House of Hendrix

As I waited at the Marta station this morning to take a train to the airport, I noticed an elderly woman standing uncomfortably, hunched over, clutching her bag as if somebody were going to grab it and run. Her acute self-awareness clearly communicated this was her first and last Marta trip to the airport.Story of people coming together on the Marta

In an effort to put her at ease, I engaged in small talk about my three children. Her flight was not for another 6 hours, but she worried about this trip to the airport, a ride her children had assured her was a simple process.

The direct train to the airport never arrived. I explained that we needed to hop on a different line and switch trains, but not to worry because we were going to do this together. This overwhelmed her. She did not yet trust me, but realized what we both knew…I was her best option. She had no people.

We rolled our bags onto the train to get situated. As the train jerked into gear, the next few minutes felt like slow motion. My new friend had such a death grip on her bags, she had forgotten to hold on. Her 78-year-old self went flying through the cabin. Several of us attempted to break her fall but failed. She went down…hard. She yelled in panic. Bags scattered. We all jumped to her aid.

A homeless, toothless man locked eyes with me before speaking,

“Ma’am, I may be dirty, but I’m honest. I’ll get your bags, and you help her. She don’t want me touching her.”

I saw straight into his kind heart wishing for a different conversation I knew we had no time to have.

A teenage punk previously entranced by the music on his headphones turned out to be a medic-in-training and assessed her for injuries before two construction workers lifted her to a seat.

As the homeless man gathered our bags and purses, he guarded them with great pride. A sweaty runner who had just finished a 5k offered up her water as I rubbed our shaken friend’s back.

Hips were thankfully not broken, but her spirit was. Embarrassment now trumped her trepidation over this adventure. We surrounded her with reassurance and comfort, little of which was received. The construction workers made some cute jokes to ease her tension before everybody went back to their seats.

I sat in the next row offering her enough space to recover alone, but close enough to jump to any need.

As her head leaned onto the train window, her eyes shut. I quietly prayed. When her eyes opened, tears poured down from underneath her wire-rimmed glasses falling onto the gray shawl draped across her shoulders. Her pale skin was still void of any color. Her hands shook. I understood the recovery was temporary. I asked,

“Is there anybody I can call for you?”

She responded in a whisper.

“They said this would be easy. But it’s not. Unexpected things happen that change everything. This is too hard for me.”

In that moment, my eyes filled with tears. I understood exactly how she felt. She’s right. It’s hard. All of it. So many times when it’s supposed to be easy…it isn’t.

Just before exiting the train, a businessman sensitive to her embarrassment gave her a wink.

I didn’t see a thing, Beautiful.”

A little color reappeared in her cheeks. Each person in our group spoke to her before exiting, and with each comment her breathing deepened and confidence reestablished. But it was the homeless man at the second to last stop that got me. He looked at her and simply said, “Ma’am” and then gave her a nod.

With tremendous grace and gentleness she uttered,

Thank you Sir for helping me with my bags today.”

And she offered him her hand. He looked at me as if for permission to accept, and I smiled. He shook her hand, a physical touch meaning more to him than she understood. As he turned to leave, he stood taller…exiting the train with a greater sense of dignity than when he arrived.

Seven people entered a train this morning from very different walks of life and in a matter of moments became a team with one purpose, to support a 78-year-old woman we had never met. We became her people, even if just for a train ride.

Sometimes our people look different than we imagine.

Sometimes they are only in our life for a train ride.

But we need them to get us through the unexpected.

Today I am grateful for my people, both the ones that support me in my daily walk and the ones God provides simply for those unexpected moments when it’s just too difficult to stand on my own.

Allison

This article has been featured on The Bert Show, a syndicated radio morning show,  which you can listen to the emotional segment here, as well as on Ann Voscamp’s blog in her multivitamins for the soul feature.

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19 Ways to Protect your Marriage

19 Ways to Protect your Marriage

In the busyness of raising children, we often forget that we need to actively and intentionally protect our marriages. Here are 19 Ways we can do that. |the House of HendrixBefore I tell you about my encounter with the 6 foot French goddess, you need some back story.

We had a 3 1/2 year old, a 12 month old, and I was pregnant again. My husband decided to get his MBA through a Business School program designed for those already in the workplace; therefore classes met nights and weekends.

A week into the program, the college held a cocktail party to welcome the spouses, thanking them in advance for the sacrifices this program required upon their family time. It was a nice touch.

The dean of the program gave an inspiring speech about the life-long relationships the students were going to form and suggested we get to know the 6 individuals assigned to our spouse’s “Study Group” because this is who they’d be spending much of their time with over the next 2 years.

I was ready. I was excited. I was supportive.

I met 4 middle-aged married men and a very lovely, engaging single woman. We chatted about their careers and families.

Then the sixth member of the group walked up, or should I say slinked. We all stood silently, mouths hanging open. She possessed the French Goddessthat type of beauty that wasn’t subjective. She was unaware of her exotic, stunning presence, but at 25 years old and 6 feet tall commanded the room.

In the strongest of French accents, she said “Hallo” and for a moment I thought she was seducing me.  The next thing I heard her say was,  “Maybe some of you men could help me move into my apartment on Saturday? Yes?”

As we wiped our drool, I quickly saw other wives speak for their husbands regarding prior commitments to soccer games and birthday parties. My husband locked eyes with me, and with the biggest grin whispered, “Honey, I can hear you. Do you realize you are laughing out loud?”

I covered my mouth attempting to suppress the increasing humor I found in this situation. I just couldn’t contain my pregnant myself. This French goddess is going to be my husband’s late-night-and-weekend study buddy for the next 2 years? It felt like an episode of Punked. Can somebody wave a Red Flag please?

I have never been a jealous wife. I trust my husband completely but I am not naïve.

When we got into the car after the party, we shared more than a laugh. I asked why he hadn’t mentioned there was a French goddess in his study group. He explained he wasn’t sure how a pregnant wife with a baby and toddler at home would receive such information. He reassured me of his love and devotion which was unnecessary but always good to hear.

Then my tone turned serious as I asked him to be discerning of the situations he put himself in knowing we were both entering a period of sleep deprivation and exhaustion.

The next morning I called my sister with residual laughter about my husband’s new study buddy. After a few witty jokes, we committed to praying for protection over his heart, his study group, and the coming two years. Prayer was our strongest line of defense.

A week later my husband called me from work saying the French goddess had to switch to a different MBA program due to scheduling conflicts.Prayer Works

Yes my friends, it works. Sometimes it’s not answered quite so obviously or exactly how we imagined, but it has the power to transform situations and relationships.

Although I have much to learn about marriage, I have been surrounded by quite a bit of divorce. What I do know is that we have to intentionally protect our marriages and that starts by protecting our own hearts.Great and funny story! In the busyness of life, we often forget that we need to actively and intentionally protect our marriages. Here are 19 Ways we can do that. | the House of Hendrix

  1. No marriage is immune from conflict or temptation. Not one.
  2. Pay attention to red flags. At the beach, a red flag cautions us of potential danger, often an undertow which can’t be seen. Sometimes we don’t see the hidden danger behind a choice. Listen to your discerning friends and family. Read scripture. Pay attention. Notice the signs so that you can head the other direction.
  3. Understand each others love language – I highly recommend The 5  Love Languages by Gary Chapman. You can read my post on it here. It suggests we each have a predominate way we show and receive love. Understanding yours and your spouses can strengthen your ability to effectively communicate love more meaningfully in your marriage.20 Ways to Protect your Marriage
  4. Forgive easily and often – Don’t wait for apologies. An angry heart can lead us to regrettable choices.Forgive easily and often. Great ways to protect your marraige. |the House of Hendrix
  5. Be careful with relationships of the opposite sex. – There are only a few men that I will text or e-mail. They usually involve my children but I make sure my husband is aware. Similarly, my husband does not even drive female babysitters home.  Our choices have nothing to do with an insecurity in our relationship. We want to protect both our hearts and those of the opposite sex with whom we come into contact.
  6. Keep short accounts – I once gave my husband the cold shoulder for several days regarding a dirty pan. Frustration can turn a heart bitter so we try and talk it through before it escalates. I love the verse “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” although sometimes a good night sleep provides a much needed break from conflict with a renewed perspective in the morning.I'd chose you every time
  7. Don’t compare spouses – Resist the urge to point out how Super Dad down-the-block takes the kids all afternoon so his wife can go to the spa. None of us want to be judged or compared to another. Our families are not supposed to look alike. Embrace the one you got.Protecting your relationship
  8. Pursue your spouse – Men want to feel desired. Leave a note in an unexpected place, send an amorous text. We would be naive to think nobody is flirting with our spouse. Last week I watched a saleswoman giggle a little too loud, flip her hair, and touch my husband’s arm while she checked him out. So I of course sent the kids over to hang on him.  But when somebody flirts with my man,  I hope it’s simply a compliment to his ego, and his innate need to feel desired is being filled by me.20 Ways to protect your marriage |the House of Hendrixvia

  9. Stop using the words “always” and “never”. You always leave your towel on the floor. You never help with the kids. Such exaggerations are unnecessary and divisive. My husband reminds me of this often.
  10. Password privacy – Don’t keep passwords for phones and computers from your spouse. If you don’t want your spouse reading a text, ask yourself if you should even be sending it.
  11. Date Night and Little Moments - As parents we often pour into the needs of our children but overlook our marriages. In the busyness of the life, we forget to really see each other and simply co-exist in our daily routine. Last year it had been too long since my husband and I had gone on a date alone, so we took advantage of having a babysitter for a funeral and actually went out afterwards.  It was a little creepy awkward at first but, it is necessary to steal little moments of time for each other where ever you can get them.
  12. When he is discouraged – you have a choice. You can beat him down further with your own frustration, or use it as an opportunity to breathe life into him. The latter is going to strengthen our marriages a heck of a lot more than the first.We are in this togethervia
  13. Marriage is not a scoreboard - Do you keep track of who’s doing household chores or putting kids to bed? Sometimes we forget marriage is a relationship not a game with a winner and loser. Marriage is not a scoreboard. the House of Hendrix
  14. Finances – Debt or financial pressure can destroy a marriage. I used to closet-shop and leave the shopping bag hidden in the trunk or closet until my husband wasn’t around. If you have to hide it, you shouldn’t be doing it. Get on the same page with your budget. Being financially united is the unglamorous work that adds tremendous depth and trust to your relationship.Are you a closet shopper? Do you hide purchases from your spouse?
  15. The Internet - The temptations are obvious and often hazardous to marriages. This goes beyond simply looking at inappropriate images and coveting homes on Trulia that you can’t afford. Over the weekend, my husband and I sat in bed for several hours each on our own Ipad…not speaking. Simply the presence of the internet took away from an opportunity to connect. How does the internet affect your marriage?via
  16. Respect around the clock - We know not to belittle our spouse at a cocktail party, but are we showing that same respect in the home? Do we unwittingly show disrespect with our off-the-cuff comments?  Disrespect is not strengthening our marriages.
  17. Accountability – Find trusted people in your life you can confide in about your marriage and personal struggles and be there for them as well. My husband has a men’s accountability group where they share temptations and ask each other hard questions. I don’t know what is said, but I am grateful beyond measure.Marriage
  18. a Heart of Gratitude – What about your spouse are you thankful for today? Tell him. Who and what in your life are breathing refreshment into your soul? Being thankful is the quickest way to bring joy to our hearts, and that joy produces a renewed ability to love our spouses and families well.
  19. Don’t give up. – Fight for your marriage even when you can’t stand one another. Pray for God to intervene and replace anger with love, and pain with forgiveness. I have seen Him reconcile the messiest of relationships, mend the broken-hearted, and restore peace to the most fractured of homes. It can happen. But if your marriage has failed, know that God still adores you. His grace overflows upon you. Trust in the lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. – Proverbs 3: 3

May your home be filled with peace, your hearts with thanksgiving, and know how deeply you are loved. May we remember to protect our marriages even when we’d rather not, and let us rest knowing that His power is made perfect in our weakness.

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* If you are in an abusive relationship, please get help. You can call 1-800-799-3224 or visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline. In Florida, you can call Safe House at 855-655-safe.

5 ways to be more Intentional today

Just a few little changes can make all the difference (the House of Hendrix)One minute they’re there, the next minute they’re gone. 20,000 photographs…births of my children, school plays, Christmas mornings, the last photographs of grandma…all gone. In a matter of moments, with the crash of my computer hard drive,  they slipped through my fingers and became a memory.

If I had to name my most treasured possession, my pictures are it…They were it.

Next to my computer is an external hard drive…in its package, untouched. I intended to back everything up, but I regretfully put it off.

Life is like that. We carry-on taking for granted so many things. In a moment, they can be gone.

our health, our marriage, our money
a friendship, a sobriety, a career

What else in my life do I intend to “back up” but simply haven’t? What is it I treasure? My photographs, YES! They are a visual representation of my life until now. But they are not my life. They are just pictures of it….and pictures which I can manipulate to tell any story of my choosing.

What is it I truly treasure?…the people in those photographs…the relationships in my life today. Do I live in a way that says “I TREASURE YOU”?

5 Ways to Live Intentionally Today {the House of Hendrix}

So today I embrace not what I’ve lost, but what I have. My heart is thankful and challenged to live life more completely.

Today I want to be more intentional.

Today I want to

Not rush through the bedtime routine with our children.  They feel my love through the tickling of their backs, my breath on their foreheads, and my arms snuggling them tight. They crave my touch. That trust, that physical closeness brings, opens up their hearts for deeper conversations. As the lights go out and their minds settle from the distractions of the day, I get that glimpse into their soul. Their anxieties. Their passions. Their unanswered questions. But I rush it. Every night, I cut them short. But not tonight.

Today I want to5 Ways to Live Intentionally Today (the House of Hemdrix)

Encourage my spouse more- There are certain areas I feel awkward intentionally encouraging him in. It feels contrived.  It’s easy to compliment him on what a great father he is, or his handiness around the house. But in other areas, I listen, offer my perspective, and problem solve…but I rarely encourage. Yesterday I decided to intentionally encourage him before work. I affirmed in him some of his God-given qualities which were going to be utilized in him that day at the office. I half-expected him to laugh, but he didn’t. He hugged me and didn’t let go. Today I’m going to encourage him more.

Today I want

The people in my life to know my heart. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. A car crash could change everything. It did for my aunt who left her 4 children weeping over her grave. Do the people I love know it? Have I told them, shown them? What about my friends? Do they know what I cherish about them? Sometimes I don’t say it. Do you have a friend who has made a huge impact on you but she doesn’t know it?  I do. On her birthday I showed her my heart. I told her why I thought she was different. Why I cherished her insight. I shared the impact and influence she has had on my life.  I laid it all out there. We weren’t at that intimate level in our friendship either, so I was vulnerable…but I wanted her to know. She could die tomorrow. I could. Nothing was left unsaid and our friendship is that much stronger. Today I am reminded to not withhold my affection from those in my life. I want them to know my heart.

Today I want to

Stop the judgement. Life’s hard and we don’t know what other people are going through. I want to be filled with compassion not comparison. I want to extend forgiveness. Am I holding on to a subtle grudge? Are there areas I need to put aside my pride to forgive? Today I want to be sensitive to the needs around me, the ones that may be disguised in condescending comments, cold shoulders, and abrupt tones. Today I want to see through them and meet their real needs with understanding and love.

Today I want to

Celebrate life. I don’t want to wait for the weekends to have fun. I want to live it now. I want to celebrate my family. I cherish a life with dance parties on Tuesdays and board games instead of clean kitchens. I want an ice cream sunday party just because we’re all together. Today I want to celebrate that I get to live this beautiful, imperfect life for another day. Today is a gift I treasure.5 Ways to Live Intentionally Today

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The Secret to Finding Mom Friends You Actually Want to Hang Out With

Today, I am excited to have Melanie Dale here to share her secret to finding moms friends. When I met Melanie last fall, I immediately had a smile on my face. She had just finished writing a book called “Women are Scary: the totally awkward adventure of finding mom friends” and explained the cover to me. It went something like this:

There are 2 moms on the cover, but they are going to be cake pops. And one mom is going to be taking a bite out of the other’s head.

What? I was oddly mesmerized by this quirky little author. You have to watch Melanie’s hilarious book promo video below to see what I mean, and then go buy her book. It’s as hilarious as she is.

The secret to finding mom friends that you actually want to hang out with. HIlarious and sweet

 

The Secret to Finding Mom Friends You Actually Want to Hang Out With
By Melanie Dale

When you’re a mom, you live in this freaky little world where sitting on a bench side-by-side with total strangers screaming at their kids is totally normal. It’s called soccer practice, or dance class (maybe with less screaming), or whatever rehearsal.

You spend hours of your life elbow-to-elbow with other moms, and you don’t know their names, only their kids’ names, because they keep shouting at them to DRIVE IT DOWN THE FIELD or STAY WITH IT or OTHER SPORTS TERMINOLOGY. You’re mostly there for your kid, not to make friends.

Also, if you’re like me, other moms can be intimidating, because they all seem to have it together and you’re just glad you made it to practice. More than once I’ve sent my daughter into tap class without shoes, because who the heck knows where those are in our house? I tell her to just imagine the tippy taps in her head as she stomps her pink tights on the floor, and I collapse onto a bench with the other moms who must be better than me. I can’t even look at the other moms, much less talk to them.

But then.

Someone leans over and says, “I’ve done that before.” I’m sorry, what? I didn’t hear you over my Immense Shame. “I’ve forgotten the shoes, I’ve shown up late, I’ve left the bag at home. Me too. Me too.”

Some of my greatest friendships have started with a “Me too.” You take a second to turn your attention from the kids and turn to each other, lock eyeballs, and share a moment of solidarity.

This parenting thing is so freaking hard.

These awkward moments sitting on benches butt cheek to cheek with total strangers aren’t going away any time soon. Creepy side eyes and contrived small talk are here to stay, as long as your kids want to do anything besides sit at home by themselves.

So when it’s awkward, when you don’t know what to say, say something encouraging. Because we all need to hear it. “Me too” someone. “Me too” the heck out of someone.

And if you actually do have it all together and are always totally prepared and perfect, maybe you can just make this a quiet moment. Shh. The rest of us are just trying to figure it out.

The secret to finding mom friends you actually want to hang out with is to let them see you not just as Blonde Girl’s Mom, but as you, the woman you are, the one who’s doing the best she can, the one who’s kind of quirky and not always perfectly together. Be yourself, in all your messy glory.

Finding real mom friends may take some time. Not everyone’s going to like you, and you’re not going to like everybody. And that’s okay. But. No matter how you get there, it’s worth a little awkwardness along the way.

In this crazy world of raising tiny humans, nobody has time for perfection, and we’re all going to fail. Over and over. We need each other; we need the encouragement; we need the me toos. This week I forgot my daughter’s lunch and my other daughter’s snack and my son’s water bottle and Hat Day. (Darn it, not Hat Day. That one was a blow.) And my friends, the ones I actually want to hang out with, were there with “Me toos.”

You are not the only one dropping balls. We are all dropping balls all over the place. And we’re picking them up together.

How to make friends you actually want to hang out with.

 

 

Want more mom dating advice?
Check out Melanie’s new book, Women Are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends at WomenAreScary.com for help on rounding the bases of mom dating.

 

Melanie Dale is a geek on a God-ride, a minivan mama and total weirdo who stinks at small talk. Her laugh is a combination honk-snort, and it’s so bad that people have moved away from her in the movie theater. She adores sci-fi and superheroes and is terrified of Pinterest. Author of Women Are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends, she’s also a contributor for Coffee+Crumbs and an advocate for Children’s HopeChest. Living in the Atlanta area, she blogs at Unexpected.org about motherhood, orphan care, adoption, and sometimes poo.