“In case you ever feel like you are failing as a parent, these are the things I Googled this week:
- Migraines in children
- Fevers in school-aged children
- Symptoms of concussion
- Most effective lice treatment
We still on for brunch Sunday? (I promise we are lice-free!!)”
This is an actual text I received from my close friend Margaret, an integral part of my mom tribe and one of the founding members of a four-woman group we have affectionately deemed “The Kid Leash Club.” (We joke about putting our children on leashes, but after a few close calls, it’s not an entirely empty threat.)
The most common refrain I hear from women hunkered deep in the trenches of new motherhood is how desperately lonely it can be, particularly in the first few months. When you’re homebound with a tiny human whose interactions are limited to eating, sleeping, and pooping, it’s not hard to see why.
I’ll be the first to admit it: I’ve been mind-numbingly bored as a new mom.
I’ve been so exhausted I bordered on delusional. I’ve been frustrated and panicky. I’ve been confused, riddled with anxiety, controlling, furious, utterly grossed out, and resentful. But never once have I been lonely. And I have my mom tribe to thank for that.
When you can send uncensored texts like “Hey, did your kid ever have any poops that were kind of multi-colored?” or when a confession of “I just picked part of my sandwich out of the folds in Jesse’s neck and ate it” is met with “It’s still good! He’s clean!” That’s how you know you’ve found the right people.
They’re out there. You just have to be willing to look.
Perhaps the best part about a millennial mom tribe in the digital age? Physical proximity is no longer a stipulation for membership. Your tribe can be entirely virtual—a kindred sorority spread out over multiple time zones. It can even work better this way, since a mom friend in San Diego is still awake when you’re mid-meltdown at midnight in Virginia.
I actually became good friends with a mom I’ve never met IRL (that’s “in real life”), but connected with via Instagram when our boys were going through the dreaded 3-month sleep regression. We communicated solely through the app’s direct messaging feature, often at ungodly hours as we alternated between consoling our babes and tearing our hair out trying to figure out why the heck they wouldn’t sleep.
Through it all, I’ve always found great comfort in knowing that I’m never alone.
In a day and age when mom-shaming is prevalent and vicious, it’s even more important to find other moms on whom you can depend. Moms who don’t judge when you show up without makeup and your child throws a tantrum on their living room floor. Moms who won’t hesitate to ask, “Is it bad that when Ollie bumps his head and looks at me to see whether he should be upset, I laugh and he starts laughing? I feel like I’m teaching him some ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ stuff.”
This is my tribe. My people.
As long as I can call them friends, I will never be lonely. I can be sitting on my couch in my pajamas at 3 p.m., rendered immobile by a sleeping baby who is mid-teething and refuses to nap any other way, and still feel connected to the outside world.
So when the opportunity arises to form your own tribe, or to welcome a new member, please don’t hesitate. Reach out a hand, grab her by the straps of her overloaded diaper bag, and pull her in close. Offer her a pat on the back, a tissue, a friendly ear, or a heaping cup of coffee. Most importantly, give her a big hug and a reason to laugh. And never let her go.