I remember when I was pregnant with my first child and my midwife asked me if I was going to register for NCT classes. Her view was that it was good preparation for the birth for a first time mum, but, her main reason for recommending the classes was to meet other mums-to-be so I had a network after my baby was born.
I was 26 and struggling to keep up with all my existing friendships, because of everyone’s busy schedules. My initial response was that I had friends and I didn’t have time for any more.
Although quite certain of my standpoint, I did reflect on this. Lots of people told me it was important to know people with babies the same age, and NCT was a good way to kickstart that.
We went to NCT classes in the end and I will always be grateful for that. I can’t say I learnt a great deal about birth. There were bits and bobs of useful information, but not a great deal that helped me in the end. What I did gain from that though was the chance to spend time with other first-time parents and once the babies were born, I had three women all at the same stage in life to spend time with, talk to and generally bumble through motherhood with. One of those women, 14 years and a whole load of children on, remains one of my closest friends. Basically – my midwife was spot on with her advice.
Whether you meet other mums at antenatal classes, baby groups, toddler groups or then in the school yard, it’s vital to have a tribe of women who just get it. People who are experiencing the same things at the same time, people who can offer a comforting “I’ve been there” when your toddler wont let go of your leg at playgroup; or people that you can message when you haven’t got a clue when the next non-uniform day is, or when you are just despairing at your non-cooperative children during weeks of home-school.
These people are a vital element of motherhood. These people are your tribe. Support them and let them support you.
What’s really important to say here is that this tribe is not about making comparisons, being critical or some sort of bizarre competition in motherhood. If you find yourself surrounded by women who do this – these are NOT YOUR PEOPLE! Run away! Fast!
Motherhood is challenging on so many levels, you need people around you who make you feel empowered and remind you that you are not alone. You need people who will be non-judgemental on the days when everything is a bit too much. You need people who take an interest in, and purposefully get to know your children, as well as you. You need people you could count on in an emergency. You need people with a sense of humour, those who don’t take themselves too seriously and those who are able to laugh at their own and your parenting faux pas, as well as acknowledge when one of you has had a major parenting breakthrough.
I feel so lucky to have a wonderful mama tribe. Women who have been a constant source of support, joy, laughs, and advice. Women who can often fill in those ‘blanks’ in motherhood. The times when you just aren’t sure what you are doing, or when you’ve hit a brick wall and you just need someone to help you navigate climbing the wall.
In 2020, a year of uncertainty, this tribe has been more important than ever. Despite the lack of cocktail gatherings, play dates and supportive hugs, we’ve managed to support each other through a year which has tested our parenting skills to the max and pushed us to our limits of how we manage the juggle.
Parenting is hard, motherhood is draining and wonderful all at the same time, and it can be quite an isolating experience. How many times have you struggled with an element of motherhood and thought you were the only one? YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE!
Find your tribe and you will find humour in the moments that caused you despair. Find your tribe and you will find calm in the moments that caused you anxiety. Find your tribe and you will find joy in the moments that caused you pain. Find YOUR tribe.
Motherhood is a complex combination of emotions which can leave you feeling bewildered at times, that’s OK. Find your tribe and you will find a sense of comfort and a reassurance that we are all making it up as we go along.
So how do you know when you’ve found them? Well, my tribe would say that when you roll you eyes at the same things, when you are happy to leave your children in each others care, and most importantly have the same twat-o-meter, you’ve found them!
Hold onto them, these are the people who, outside of your family and friends will make your world better.