I am addicted to a podcast called Magic Lessons by the infinitely talented Elizabeth Gilbert. If you haven't heard these 20 minute sound bites I urge you to go download them here. In the third Magic Lessons podcast, Elizabeth talks about "finding your tribe", specifically in relation to creativity and people who can support you in your creative endeavours. This got me to thinking about the tribes that I belong to in my life; their variety, their importance, and their purpose.
We are all born into a tribe. Whether it's a traditional nuclear family or a modern family, our first tribe is chosen for us. These are the people who raised us. They helped mold us into the people we are now and they are forever a part of us for better or worse.
At a certain age, we are allowed to begin choosing members of our social tribe. Sometimes this is done under the supervision of parents or guardians, but most often the first members of our social tribe are found within the four walls of a classroom. Our social tribe ebbs and flows over time as friendships are made and broken, and as we learn that quality is more important than quantity and that some friendships can last a lifetime whereas others were only meant to last a short while.
As time moves along and our social tribe continues to evolve, we start to add members to our familial tribes. These tribe members come in the form of spouses, significant others, fur babies, and children of our own.
At this point our social tribes can fall to the wayside as our priorities undergo a massive shift, but our social tribes and need for belonging remain of significant importance. Never was this more true then when I had my daughter.
I am blessed to have an exceptional biological tribe. They are second to none. I am also fortunate to have an extremely supportive tribal leader in my partner, and the unending support of his (very large) biological tribe.
As important as each of these people were after I had my child, there was a new tribe that formed in my life after the birth of my daughter whose importance became of huge significance.
My mommy tribe.
This tribe offers empathy, support, reassurance, a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, and the gift of their non-judgement whenever I need it. And friends, some days I need it a lot. Some days the trenches of parenthood are too deep to navigate alone. Some days they are even too deep to navigate with a partner, and some days my tribal partner needs a break from me. And vice versa.
Enter the mommy tribe. They are a text, a phone call, a Facebook message, or a lunch date away. They've been there. They get it. They've got the tiger stripes and the tear stains to prove it.
I cannot count how many times I've reached out to this group of women to ask "Is this normal?" or "What did you do when...". Some days I just need to vent or feel that I am not alone in the craziness, exhaustion, and frustration that parenthood can be. My mommy tribe is always there to help ground me and get me through the day.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I also believe it takes a village to raise a parent. The women in my tribal community of mom friends is truly helping to raise me. They are mentors. They are nurturers. They are warriors.
The concept of tribes in our lives will always be significant, and their importance will magnify depending on our stage of life. Perhaps you don't have the need for a mommy tribe, but as human beings we all have a profound and innate need for belonging. Professional, creative, religious, or athletic tribes may be where you find your tribal community, or maybe your familial tribe fulfills all of your belonging needs.
It doesn't matter which type of tribe you identify with the most, or how many tribes you feel are important in your life. What matters is that you find one tribe that provides you with an unconditional sense of belonging. Once you find that group of people, don't let them go. Believe me, I am holding onto my mommy tribe with a vice grip.