For a long period of time, I felt like I was missing out on a key piece of Millennial Motherhood. (Side note: I am at the elder end of the millennial thing and still can’t fully grasp that I am one.) There’s a lot of “motherly” hashtags that have popped up to make you feel a part of: #CoffeeBeforeCocktails, #MomLifeIsTheBestLife, #GirlMom, #BoyMom… the list goes on and on. A major one is about finding your “Mom Tribe.” Even here on this blog, we discuss it. But with full-blown honesty, I have never truly felt a part of a Mom Tribe — I’ve simply never felt as if I fit in with that crowd. I can’t help but feel like I’m on the outside looking in, and then it hit me — are Mom Tribes just another type of clique?
My Not-So-Mom Tribe
It’s not to say that I don’t have friends who are moms, or that I haven’t joined groups that were catered to the motherly demographic. Heck, I joined a blog specifically FOR MOMS. I think it’s just me. Remember the movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure? I always think of the line, “I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.” I’m not really into the attitude of finding like-minded people who get everything I am going through. If that were the case, I’d be very limited to divorced moms in their 30s. I have never really followed one particular group even when being in a group (a.k.a. clique) was a MAJOR deal. High school and the teen years were hard, I don’t wish to relive them. I certainly don’t wish to feel like I need a clique to feel like I belong. My friendships form with all sorts of people — single, married, divorced, kids and no kids. If I had to label a tribe, then can I include the 16-year-old babysitter who has saved my parenting sanity on more than one occasion? What about the Shipt shopper who delivers me the groceries so I don’t have to go with two kids in tow? (Not all heroes wear capes.) Or my parents who take the grandkids, so I can meet up with people for work. The hairstylist who was a single mom herself and gets that I need to take a 3-year-old to an appointment with me. There are people in my Not-So-Mom Tribe who live across the country and get me through days purely through FaceTime and texts. ALL of these people help me survive and then some. Remember that phrase, “It takes a village?” Let’s get that going again.
Clique or Tribe?
The whole part of a tribe makes me feel like I’ve left people out who give me significant help and guidance. It also has the ability to make me feel left out of others’ so-called tribes. I have single women friends who mean more to my life than the mom in my kid’s class who I HAVE to talk to because, well, we’re here and we’re moms. That kind of social pressure makes me anxious. The first “Mom Friend” I made when moving to St. Augustine took nine months to find. NINE. MONTHS. It wasn’t for a lack of trying and putting myself out there. I just couldn’t get into a rhythm with people. I can point out a tribe from miles away. From personal example, they rarely let others into their “sacred” group around my community pool. There are neighborhoods who now have mom-specific Facebook groups, some of them are real-life versions of Real Housewives sans Andy Cohen. More and more it makes me realize we need to let go of the grown woman version of a clique. Are we supporting the grown-woman clique, or is a tribe something you really need to get by in motherhood?
I Don’t Have a Type
Motherhood is hard. REALLY HARD. Finding yourself a real friendship, a great babysitter, and others to guide and support you along the way are important. I don’t need to be friends with someone just because they are a mom. Is it a bonus? Absofrigginlutely. Different relationships with different types of people will help you more than anything along the way. Going out with my token single-girl-no-kids friend for drinks is AMAZING. She gives me the break from discussing anything kid related. Coffee with a fellow WAHM is a breath of fresh air to understand the balancing act this takes. A good guy friend to laugh and watch a game with is pure joy. Certainly the babysitter who skillfully watches my kids, so I can have a moment to breathe, is oh-so valuable. I don’t limit myself to certain types, unless that type is kind, funny, and honest.
Supportive is the New Tribe
Mom Tribes form and exist based on a variety of circumstances. I know I’m not going to be friends with everyone, and that’s okay by me. Truth be told, I’m a big fan of the best plans being cancelled plans, because I’m friggin’ tired. The feelings of not being “let in” or accepted because the Mom Tribe has spoken, isn’t something I feel okay with in my 30s. People supporting people, being helpful, being kind and having the least amount of judgement, the better. I just want more inclusion and openness to friendships. Whether they’re fellow moms or not, married or single, all is fair in the game of support and friendship. Supportive is the new tribe.