By Sarah Lyons
When my first child was born thirteen years ago I was thrilled to be a mom and so in love with my son. This was the moment I had been looking forward to for months. My husband and I had decided that I would become a stay-at-home mom and I was looking forward to all the time I could spend with my son. After a few months of adjusting to becoming a mom, I started to feel lonely. I had given up my job and while I was still head over heels in love with my son, something vital felt missing. I realized quickly that it was adult interaction. Whether you are a working mom or stay at home, have one child or five children, whether you are struggling through the exhausting days and sleepless nights of babies and toddlers or the busy schedules of school age kids, you need a tribe. Many moms define their tribe as other women who understand where they are in life without having to explain a single thing. They get you, they accept you, and they cheer you on as you struggle your way through it. If you are feeling lonely and are seeking a friend, or two, to laugh and cry with through your current stage of motherhood, I encourage you to find your tribe. Are you unsure of how to find your tribe?? Here are a few places to start.
Be open and accepting
The first step to finding authentic people that you can relate to and build lasting relationships with is to be your authentic self. When you are an open, honest, and accepting person, you will encourage others to behave the same. Be yourself, listen to what others have to say, accept others for who they are, and relationships will happen organically. It can be uncomfortable, scary even, to put yourself out there but the relationships far outweigh the risk when you find true friends.
There are times where finding people to start friendships with can be challenging. Especially when you have a big life change like a move, becoming a parent, or changing jobs. Take inventory of what you love to do or what groups are already existing that you could join. For example, if you love running, join a running club. If you love to read join or start a book club. If you are a mom, join a playgroup or a mother’s group at a local church. Does the PTO at your school need help? Would you consider being a soccer coach or Boy Scout leader? All of these examples are great ways to get involved in your community and make friends along the way. After the birth of our triplets, I joined an online group of triplet moms. Four years later, I am surprised to say that they are some of my closest friends and one of my biggest support systems.
Give support and ask for it
One of the main things that makes a tribe so important is the support given and received during the times when it is needed most. When my daughter was hospitalized for several weeks, my mother’s group supplied meals, gave my other kids rides to and from school, helped with childcare, sent flowers and cards, and basically kept my family going when my husband and I couldn’t have done it on our own. They would not have known how to help if I hadn’t reached out to them and asked. Asking for help can be hard for people who are used to managing the family and are good at it too, but remember that during difficult times friends want to help. Just ask. Conversely, it can be such a blessing to help others when they need it. Giving a ride to school, making a little extra food to share, sending a text, or talking with a friend when they need a listening ear doesn’t take much extra effort while going a long way to build your tribe.
Finding your tribe can mean pushing yourself to step outside your comfort zone and reach out to others. While it is difficult to do at first, once you find a group of friends that understand and support you, it is well worth the time and effort put in to build and strengthen those relationships.