Recently I’ve noticed a lot of stir about so called “mom tribes” in the blogger world and social media. Mom tribes are those in a group of women who share a bond (motherhood) and who are your go to women at all times. Moms that are there when you are down. Moms that are there in the fun times. Moms that are behind the scenes keeping you sane. Moms that above all are friends and truly get it. Most women think they have a mom tribe.
At one point, I was one of these women and I had a mom tribe. A mom tribe that was great. There for me through so much and always by my side. Until one day I decided to show my backbone. I realized that I had become a sheep. A follower. A pleaser. A yes “man”. Consequently, I had lost myself. One day when I decided to stand up for myself the ground shattered and my mom tribe had become divided. Now here’s where things went wrong. Mom tribes, if they’re going to be functional as such can’t be divided. From division there’s tension and tension is the opposite of what a tribe is supposed to be (a unified front).
My tribe now had two leaders and all those mamas in it felt compelled to choose sides or not choose at all. From this I learned that my tribe wasn’t really a tribe. It could be viewed two ways. A lighthearted group of women who’s kids play together, who occasionally have a mno and keep it low key. Or, a real tribe where each mom actually cared about the other and was truly invested. Who am I kidding? It was a front. A disingenuous attempt at unity and indeed unified but only if you say “how high” when particular members said “jump”. Those of you that know me well know that I’ve never been a “jump” person, a phony smiler or even a pleaser (This stage made me become one). But, everything we’ve gone through these last four years had me in a very lonely place. I was surrounded by people, but felt alone. I was surrounded by concern, but felt astray. I was surround by love, but felt heartbroken. So, I changed myself. I did what I thought people wanted me to do. Only when I became close with members of my “tribe” did I open up and become a version of myself. I felt lost in this image of me. I wasn’t this outgoing person who was funny and enjoyed going out with other moms. I was an anxiety ridden social mess. Truth is, I’ve always been. I wanted to stay home and hide. I cried nights on end because of how mean this one person was to me.Things started out smoothly in the tribes honeymoon stage and a year or so into the friendships my sweet Bee was diagnosed with infantile spasms. My ability to keep up the facade was gone. Many of the tribe rallied around us and tried to help out with meals and gifts for Ailbe but many kept their distance. Many acted as though life just carried on for everyone while our lives stood still. Timeless. Moving in slow motion.
Each day with infantile spasms felt like a year. Each hour, like a month. Each minute, like a week.
Time moved so slowly and it changed me. I needed an outlet. I needed an escape. One of the moms in our tribe had a moms night out group. I was so excited to join. I thought that would be the best thing for me and the greatest escape from the stresses of my daily life. Immediately, I clicked “join” and waited. Days went by, then weeks and I decided, finally, to reach out to my tribe member and ask what was up. Next I was told something that shocked me, and essentially from that point on disbanded my tribe, or what I thought was my tribe. My attempt to join was declined. I was told I couldn’t join because I was an organizer of another group. In my head it made sense but I kept saying to myself how can someone turn their back on a friend in a time of such dire need. From that point on the line was drawn and there was no going back. Since I am who I am, internally, the real me. Strong, loyal, and loving I stood up for myself. I didn’t smile and say “okay no problem.” I said what it was, a crock.I followed the whole “if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a DUCK,” mentality and felt wronged. I had a core group of about 5 of the tribe of 30 stay with me and keep our friendships but slowly but surely those were picked off too because those friendships were also conditional. I couldn’t be myself. I couldn’t have anxiety. I couldn’t be honest. I couldn’t be a conservative. I couldn’t be against the CIO method. I couldn’t be straightedge. I couldn’t be real. The division in the group became so tense it was all everyone talked about for almost a year. I finally decided I was done and officially moved on. Those who spoke ill about others are now hugging them in pictures on Facebook and the continual cycle of lead, follow, repeat continues.
From all of this and through all of these experiences I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned if people can’t truly accept you for you, they aren’t worthy of your friendship. I’ve learned that when times are tough those who stick by you and don’t question you but support you are those worth having by your side. Fortunately, I have family and a few friends that do fill my cup and do love me for me. The most important thing I’m learning from adulthood and motherhood in general is that I’m worth it. I’m a kind, loving and forgiving person and I don’t need a large tribe to feel good about myself. I simply need the freedom to be myself.
Maybe one day I’ll find my real tribe. But for now, I’ll focus on my own little one💗