Having a baby is kind of like the first week of University. It’s like you have left the world of what you know and are thrust into this world of uncertainty.
If you are lucky you may have a friend to navigate it with you, but for the most part you have to figure all this stuff out for yourself.
When I became pregnant I was the first of all of my girlfriends. Of course this was because I was actually in University – but that story is for another day. I felt completely alone. While they were all still going out and doing things, I was struggling with morning sickness and just trying to stay awake!
Once my baby arrived, all of my friends wanted to meet him… once. After the novelty wore off they all continued with their lives as 20-somethings, and I was alone once more.
Back in this day, Facebook did not exist, but we did have mommy chat groups online and so I was able to type out some of my baby issues that I was struggling with or that needed troubleshooting.
People kept saying “Have you found your tribe?” and “You need a tribe.” I started to search for that special group of women that would help me navigate this world that I was so clearly lost in.
There were so many “tribes”, groups, and cliques. The mommy-wars were just starting to be played up in the media. It seemed like there were representatives of each of these groups everywhere. In the end I chose 3 separate groups. The Attachment Parenting group, the Cloth Diapering group, and the Babywearing Group.
While my children were really little I threw myself into these tropes. I was the crunchiest of crunchy. I wore them everywhere, I made sure that I had the “it” diaper or wrap. I also made sure that while in public or online I was the opitimy of the “attached mom”.
Then my kids got older.
I started noticing it at playgroup at first. New moms coming in, only talking about the 7 baby b’s. Really, after a few kids you just don’t care how other people’s kids sleep. I started to feel irrelevant.
But, how could this be? I was a member. This was my tribe.
Well, it happened. I slowly stopped going to playgroup. I just didn’t feel welcome anymore. I was one of those moms with “older” kids who just didn’t relate to the moms with the newborns. Also, the issues I had with my older kids were much more complex and needed more thought than, “just wear them” or “pop a boob in their mouth.”
It started to happen in my baby wearing group as well. This group of women love to baby wear – but what happens when your baby doesn’t want to be worn anymore? Or they have just grown out of it? You again become irrelevant. I went to a meeting recently and hardly recognized anyone, and was asked if *I* needed help with a wrap. I felt like one of those elderly people waving a cane and saying, “I was back wrapping 10 years ago. When you were still a child yourself!” (but, I didn’t – I just smiled politely and said no.)
The issues with finding a tribe with such a small scope is that this will happen. Your tribes will continually churn over and you will cease to be a member. You won’t do it on purpose. You probably don’t even believe me – but it will happen.
What is important to take from this is that finding likeminded moms to commiserate with and gain knowledge is important. Playgroups and meet-ups can help save your sanity in those early years. However, branch out.
I have recently found my real tribe. Women who have the same interests as me (separate from my children and child raising practices). They do not know what the most coveted fluff is. They could probably care less that cotton wraparound EllaBellas are losing market value.
They may have spanked their kids, they may have used crying-it-out. Maybe they use timeouts, or think Neufeld is full of it. (they don’t because he is awesome.)
My point is that these women support ME. Me personally. They take me for who I am and it is not hinged on any label or “tribe”. They listen and give me advice that may be contrary to how my groups would have, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong, just different – and sometimes to grow we need that.