The reality of living outside of your tribe is never more apparent than to the new parents wondering why the hell is this so difficult?!
My theory is that you need your tribe, your village, your community - and i'm not talking village fetes and charity fundraisers!
Photo courtesy of www.wellfitmums.com @buggyfitsouthbirmingham
In days gone by, we lived communally. Extended family next to extended family - all with roles all with purpose. We are, after all, mammals - pack animals. Our survival through the centuries has been somewhat reliant on this way of life - but not any more. Now we seek to survive on our own. Move away from our parents, sisters, aunts, grandmothers - scrape our own path and make our own rules.
All of a sudden when parenthood comes our way we are left with a huge gaping hole, begging for answers to the questions. Questions of simple everyday existence 'both breasts per feed or is one ok?' 'how do I put him to sleep, back, front or can i just use the pushchair everytime?' 'Is poo that colour normal?!' 'Why wont she eat anything other than breadsticks!!' 'Is putting Cbeebies on really that bad?' or was that just me? My Mum and Auntie were on speed-dial. After all - both of them had worked with small children their entire lives, both of them had been here before with their own children, surely they have all the answers!!! Please let them have the answers at 3am when she wont stop crying!!
But the answers aren't always there. Loving advice and friendly suggestions from 50 miles up the road but all the time still me not trusting my instincts or their path. Still trying to find my own way. You see, what we miss is exposure. Exposure to pregnancy, birth, new babies, toddlers - all the things that would have been normal everyday things for women living within their extended family to see. Having these things unfold, being involved and having a way to follow that is simply ingrained in your being as you have seen it a thousand times before.
Its so hard now to believe that many mums find things as hard as you do. That many mums have the same questions and doubts as we all live behind closed doors. We do not have the warm arms around us of experience from generation to generation; because we want our own way, and that is fine too. Hard, but fine.
Build your tribe around you. Other new mums, other mums with older kids, mums online - any mums close by. I promise they will have felt lonely like you at some point and what your friendship or just a shoulder once in a while can do for them is unimaginable.
Building your parent-hood tribe...
Start early. Pregnancy socials, pregnancy classes, antenatal workshops are great places to meet people about to be in the same boat as you. Your friends will always be there but when you are the first in the group having children you are going to need someone who is also awake at 2am, 3am oh and 6am for feeds.
Be honest. I'm not advocating horror stories here lovelies as no pregnant mum needs to hear those. But when you can see a mum who is feeling a bit low, sharing a bit of 'I felt like that too' and helping them see that everything is not always a bed of roses for everyone else, can really help them break through. Was it just me that thought that every other mum at baby class was doing so well and looked so happy?!!!
Talk. If you are the one missing your tribe and desperate for a way out, open up and speak up. Go on be brave, it cant be worse than how you feel now. I felt so shy and insecure at pregnancy yoga and had to be so brave to chat to the other mums. I'm glad I did, they are the best friends I have ever had.
Trust your gut. There are so many options out there for us as new parents. From the simple mountain of which buggy to choose! to the individual choices on how to love and nurture your child. You will meet many mums who have a different opinion, many who may like to push you in to questioning your own way. But believe me, your tribe is more ingrained in your heart than you know - you just need to listen to it and believe in you.
Join our online tribe of Birmingham mums here.... https://www.facebook.com/MumtoBeeBirthPreparation/
Photo courtesy of www.wellfitmums.com @buggyfitsouthbirmingham - outdoor exercise classes for mums - great place to start building your tribe xx