For a few months now, I’ve reflected on who my ‘tribe’ really is. Because I’ve heard this word used SO much, I had started thinking I had to have a core group of lifelong best friends. But, I’m releasing the pressure, my friends. There’s no way that one small tribe can replace the village that is needed to raise babies. And, if I follow Google’s lead, it DOES seem reasonable that a tribe can be formed from a variety of similarities. So, I’m declaring that I have multiple tribes, each serving a critical purpose in my life, and, hopefully, they all somehow benefit from my ‘membership’, as well.
‘Good For The Soul’ Fun Tribe
I consider myself lucky that I have a number of friendships from college and my twenties that have withstood the test of time. We were there for each other when we were single, as we met the loves (and several non-loves) of our lives, and eventually married and became mamas. As the years have passed and our kids have gotten older, we’ve all settled into smaller, more manageable groups that work for the seasons of life we’re in.
For a while, I struggled as the girls who had been my tried and true besties became less involved in my life, and I in theirs. Although there wasn’t anything lacking in my life, when I’d see pics of them on Facebook with one another, and without me, I’d feel a twinge of jealousy. Over time, I’ve gotten used to it and have even discussed it with one of them, but, as life has a way of doing, it’s all kind of shaken out the way it’s supposed to.
I still get together with a core group of these friends for birthday dinners, a handful of them for an annual beach weekend, and the majority of them for our annual Christmas gift exchange. We always immediately find our groove and dig deep into our lives like we’ve never missed a beat. And, because we’ve done it before, I know that as life moves on and we each tackle tougher days ahead, we will all round up in an instant to support one another. My ‘good for the soul’ tribe remain the girls that I laugh with, that I’d dance with if we ever planned a raging girls’ night out, and that I long for weekends away with. Check….my fun tribe is covered.
A while back, I was chatting with one of my friends about her sister-in-law and how her group of friends was really involved in one another’s day-to-day lives. My friend was amazed when one of her sister-in-law’s friends took their kiddos home from a swim meet and got them ready for bed. I wasn’t. When I heard myself say, ‘Well, yeah, but don’t you do that kind of stuff for your mom friends?’, it hit me. I have an ah-mazing Mom Tribe.
Many are my neighbors. One is a friend who, although we don’t hang out very often, will happily let me dump my kids at her house when we have a scheduling snafu and whose children I was happy to entertain when she had to run to Target because her dog got into her kids’ Easter baskets the DAY BEFORE EASTER. Another Mom Tribemate helped manage my kids when my hubs and I were out of the country last year, and she and I basically created a babysitting co-op last summer. Mom Tribe. Crucial to survival.
‘You’re Stuck With Me Forever’ Tribe
As in, we’re basically sisters and there’s nothing either of us can do to get rid of the other. I have a handful of peeps who I rely on to get me through life, no matter what the season. And I consider these couple of folks to be a part of my ‘Stuck with Me’ Tribe. Each of them totally overlaps with other groups and are the people I can share ANYTHING with, without fear of judgment, unless I specifically ask for it, which is not uncommon. They are my cheerleaders, and I am theirs. My gut reaction to any situation they are struggling with is that the other person is surely at fault. They are the Cristina Yang to my Meredith Grey. My ‘Stuck with Me’ Tribemates are few and far between and, honestly, I think it’s supposed to be that way.
I say, embrace the tribe-dom. I mean, there could be endless groups of people who support you and share your interests. And, I don’t think calling each of them a tribe in any way takes away from their special-ness. I have my work tribe, my preschool tribe, wives of my husband’s friends tribe, I have friends who have exercise tribes, and this year, I’m looking to find my ‘Jesus-loving’ tribe. I say, love on those people and nurture those relationships, without a notion of what they might grow into. This way, we keep our expectations realistic and decrease our chances of disappointing one another.
Embracing the functions of my tribes has helped me adjust my expectations and better appreciate all of my friends. In the past, I really wrestled with some of the relationships that no longer fit as neatly in place as they once did. For a while, I’d been hopeful that my Mom Tribe would get together more often socially. Although I still have high hopes, when I don’t expect the level of social commitment that I do from my ‘Stuck with Me’ Tribe, life magically gets easier. We can just enjoy each other at the bus stop, during playdates, when our kids play in the cul-de-sacs, and during the spontaneous snowmageddons and s’mores cookouts. Now, I take those moments and love the heck out of each of them.
You might be worrying that you’ll end up with more tribes than you can realistically give back to. Rest easy knowing these groups of friends will ebb and flow as we travel through the seasons of our lives. Members of one tribe might morph into another or leave our lives completely. I liken it to the concept Marie Kondo introduces in her popular book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She suggests thanking and appreciating items for the role they’ve played in your life and letting them go with gratitude once they no longer serve a purpose. If we can do this with our tribemates, we’ll be better able to appreciate each of them for the roles they have played or are playing in our lives. By accepting this, it will be easier to look at changed relationships with a sense of gratitude instead of a sense of longing.
So, have many tribes. As many as you can dream up. And love on them. Hard. Because at the end of the day, raising littles takes a village. And, these days, tribes, much less entire villages, are hard to come by.