My first child was born at 2:30 in the morning. My best friend, who lives a few states away, told me to call her when he was born, no matter what time it was. So my husband called to let her know all was well. Her response? “OK, I’m hoping in the car.” And she drove five hours — five hours! — to come see me and meet my son.
She stayed the day, brought back dinner, and then she left. I missed her terribly, especially since my husband had to return to work two days later, but my friend called every day to check on me.
Since I was the first of my friends and sisters to have a baby, I didn’t have that person I could talk to about all those new mom questions. Like what the hell was going on with my body, why did I just piss my pants, and were they as frustrated as I was trying to breastfeed.
My sister lived close by, and I had two best friends who would visit when they could, but I was the only one with a child. They would come and hold him, bring me food, and ask what motherhood was like. But they couldn’t really understand.
I did not have a anyone who could swap babysitting with me on Wednesday afternoons to get grocery shopping done. I didn’t know of anyone who could just stop over with their child to play. I didn’t have a mom tribe for my first years of motherhood, and honestly, I didn’t quite know what a mom tribe was.
But you know what? It didn’t matter, because I always had what I needed. I never felt like anything was missing from my life because I didn’t go to mom groups, or have a big group of mom friends I’d meet at the playground to swap stories with and plan girls’ nights.
When my son got older I heard that’s what moms do — they got together with a group of other moms to hang out. I would try and put myself out there, but being somewhat of an introvert, I always left feeling exhausted, like I just didn’t click with anyone.
It’s not that these groups, or other moms were horrible — they were wonderful and welcoming — I just didn’t find my tribe and I was perfectly content spending time alone or with people who didn’t have kids. It meant my kids got more attention and love when my friends did stop by, and I got more of a respite than I would have if I was with a group of moms who were equally as tired as I was.
It wasn’t until my second child was born and we moved onto a dead-end street with 11 kids under the age of 12 that I found it — my tribe. Surrounded by other moms and a gaggle of kids, I would talk with them for hours while our kids played. We fed each other’s kids popsicles, went through a ton of sidewalk chalk, and talked about everything from our labors to teenage crushes to our favorite recipes.
It was a wonderful time, yes, but would I have been okay if I hadn’t found my tribe? Yes, I certainly would have.
We put a lot of emphasis on the importance of finding a “mom tribe,” but not everyone finds it — and what’s more, not everyone needs it. It doesn’t mean you are anti-social or anything is wrong with you. Sometimes it’s just not worth the effort to spend time with someone or a group of people if you aren’t feeling it. And if you tend to be more introverted like me, you need more of your own space, and dealing with a large number of friends can leave you feeling like you need to hibernate.
I’ve always been thankful for all my relationships, and I believe when the time is right, the right people come into your life. If you haven’t found your mom tribe yet, you might when your kids start school or when they become teenagers.
But if you are content spending your afternoon playing on the living room floor in the privacy of your own home or meeting your mom for coffee every Tuesday, that is a beautiful thing too.
Like so many situations in life, people show up for you when you are ready for them and your mom tribe is no different — whether it’s a swath of other moms or one BFF who drives five hours to see you.