I remember sitting on my front porch a few years ago while my kids were really little, I had just finished reading The Red Tent, and I felt so envious of the women in the story. I was jealous of their shared purpose and bond. Their automatic entrance into the tribe of womanhood; passing along stories and chores and time with each other and their daughters. The story focused on Dinah, daughter of Jacob and sister to Joseph, from the bible stories you're probably familiar with. This book also touched upon the life of her mother, Leah and her sister wives who shared all of the above, plus a husband. The author didn't sweep over the jealousy and hurt that came with such a situation, but, as I sat there alone on my porch I couldn't help but think that their feelings of jealousy and inadequacy were surely less painful than my current state of loneliness. Sitting alone in the driveway of my beautiful air-conditioned suburban house watching my two beautiful well-dressed children play while supper was baking in the oven and my husband was on his way home from work I was supremely jealous of a tribe of biblical sister-wives. What the heck. I sure as hell didn't want to share my kitchen much less my husband with other women but I envied their closeness and I wasn't sure how to reconcile that.
I watched what seemed like everyone on social media "find their tribe" so why hadn't I found mine? I was navigating the growing pains that come with aging out of the mommy groups but not yet settled into in the childhood teams of PTA or Little League or Swim team. Some women bounce right from one to the next but I had trouble meshing "me" with "mommy" so I was never sure if we were here for the kids or for each other. Maybe it was both all along and I'm the one who was just too tired or unsure to get that. Maybe meeting for drinks in restaurants would have helped push us past feeding times in sandboxes.
Why was it that I was doing all the right things: scheduling playdates, going on walks in the neighborhood, attending preschool functions, but I still felt lonely? No doubt it was me. I remember an episode of Sex and the City where they likened men ready for marriage to cabs driving around with their green light on. If a man had on his red light it didn't matter how perfect you were together, a long term relationship just wasn't going to happen with him. But the next day, his green light switches on and poof he's engaged six months later to a girl just like yourself.
I think in order for me to turn on my green light I had to start making friends for me not for my kids. And it doesn't have to be some "tribe" to be my people. Damn, I wish I had figured this out sooner. Or maybe I figured it out just when I really needed to.
Maybe I should stop waiting to meet this fictitious group of amazing women just sitting around waiting on me to show up. My tribe doesn't have to come to me or make logistical sense or send me an invitation. Maybe my tribe is who I gather together.