Oh, The ‘coveted’ Mom Tribe! I never knew something I hadn’t heard about until I was in my 30’s was going to be so valuable in my experience as a mom. What is a mom tribe (or what I’d like to call a parent tribe)? A mom tribe is a valuable and irreplaceable group of moms (or dads) who will support you in every emotional crisis of being a mom. This tribe is who you go to when your crying on the kitchen floor postpartum after losing it because your newborn won’t sleep. They remind you that you are not alone. This is the tribe who you call when you’ve convinced yourself that you don’t know what you are doing because your toddler has just lost her sh*t the whole day . They remind you that you DO know what you’re doing. It’s the tribe you call when work has taken over your life, and the ONE day you are home with your daughter, she tells you to “Go back to Colorado,” (Side note: We live in California, and I travel to Boulder for work). The reminder you need to get it together because you’re a strong PARENT and what you’re doing is amazing.
You can see why this is such a coveted tribe. Guess what else I learned? I suppose I never thought of the day that some of my friends would be having children too, and some won’t. I also never knew that after having already evolved my group of friends from High School to College, and College to my adult life, that it would need to evolve again when I became a parent. In the beginning, it was awkward and guilt-ridden. I was trying to balance becoming a parent (while also still trying to maintain a career), taking care of a child, staying married, staying employed (and valuable), and if there’s any time left, spending it on me.
My weekdays are non-stop: School drop off, make the 7 am meeting, work through lunch, rush to pick up Everly, bring her to ballet, rush home to make dinner, clean up, put her to bed by 7:30 pm, finish whatever I was doing before, and CRASH at 9 pm. FIVE DAYS OF THIS, and all I want to do on the weekend is sleep. Some friends understood this, and some friends didn’t. That’s okay. It did highlight the need for a tribe. If I wanted to keep sane and not turn into a complete hermit, I had to make some friends. This meant opening myself up to new people, or rekindling with others who maybe had kids before me…of course, in addition to gravitating towards some of my other friends who were in the same phase of life as me.
I then realized, it was key to have the RIGHT people in your tribe. Having the wrong tribe can just add more drama and can fuel your insecurities as a mom. It took time for me to evolve the right balance of mom friends to create a tribe, and here are some tips I learned to ensure you have the right mom tribe.
1) Have a diverse tribe
- It’s easy to find a mommy/daddy group, that meshes well, and does everything together. If you have this rare unicorn, that’s great! But make sure this group can support you in the different problems you might encounter in each facet of parenthood: Work, home, interfamily relationships, marriage, and aspirations! It’s important that you have someone in your tribe that you can go to for different things. No two moms are alike!
2) Have a Candid tribe
Being candid doesn’t mean your tribe can say ‘whatever’ they want, ‘whenever they want.’ It means that they will be honest with you, at the right time, in the right way. They don’t let issues “fester” and are honest with their relationship with you. This makes for a lasting friendship.
3) Have compatible parenting styles
I’m not suggesting you can’t be friends with all moms/dads. But when it comes to your tribe, there is an importance in parenting style compatibility. The time you have together has to be stress-free, and you have to be on the same page about how you may deal with your children (especially in public). Let me give you an example. If you’re a parent who emphasizes the importance of independence – allowing your child to explore, fall on their own, etc.. – it can be very stressful for another parent who doesn’t agree with those methods to have their child(ren) interact with yours while they see “Bobby’s mom act differently.” It might be a small difference reading it in a blog, but I have seen this first-hand cause stress among the kids and their parents.
4) Have a drama-free tribe
If you find yourself stressed out about what your tribe is going to say to you or behind your back, that’s a red flag. A true tribe should be your getaway. An opportunity to let go, be yourself and simply exhale. If you find yourself juggling gossip between your tribe friends instead of healthy venting, and you’re hearing a lot of complaining, then find another tribe. That environment can be toxic and contagious. Enough said on this one…
5) Have a tribe that supports you, not enables you
A strong tribe means strong women (or men), which means there is also some healthy tough love. As much as your tribe should be there to listen to your struggles as a parent, they should be there to help you through it, not just enable it. If they feed into your negative thoughts and consistently validate them – no matter how good it feels in the short term, it’s not healthy. You want to be understood and empathized with, but your tribe should also be willing to help see you through victory in these situations. They don’t just show up to hear the drama, they show up to help you through it in a positive way. They are the ones who show up to play dates, not just to take advantage of some playtime outside their home, but also help clean up! They are the ones who listen to your struggles but are also the first ones, yoga pants and all, to pour you a glass of wine and help you figure out what you’re going to do next.
I always heard that “It takes a village to raise a child.” They weren’t kidding and it also takes a village to keep you sane as a mother. I’m grateful for the tribe I have, and all the wonderful things they have taught me. Bonds from your tribe cannot be broken, no matter how often or infrequent you actually see each other. Cheers to all your rockstar parents, supporting other parents.