Life + Style

February 6, 2017

Finding my Tribe

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.

When my oldest was a baby I was automatically invited into playgroup.  For seven months each Tuesday or so we went to someone's family room and set our babies down on blankets and drank coffee.  We brought playpens to friends houses for dinner and planned porch happy hours while the babies slept.  We all lived in the same small town and had babies the same age.  It was fun.  It was easy.  When we moved to Richmond I reconnected with some old friends and once again we met up on Tuesdays.  A collection of moms with now toddlers all the same age showed up at the designated playground to let our wobbly children swing and slide in the company of others.  We brought snacks and growing bellies and newborns and portable plastic potties in our trunks.  When my two grew a bit bigger I was gifted the freedom of two and a half hours twice a week in the form of preschool drop off.  It became harder to plan playdates as we tried to fit varying preschool days, (are you a MWF, TuWTh or a TuTh?), unpredictable nap schedules, and clean bills of health into schedules that never seemed to connect.  As the two days turned into four and then five I found myself with more free time but still unable to get enough done.  I was thankful for those kid free mornings but I was also lonely.

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. 

Like with any of my ramblings, I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say here (do I ever really have a point? Probably not.) but I feel like there is something in my words that you might need to hear this morning.  That being lonely is okay.  That doing something about it is better.  That it's okay if your whole entire world is centered around your kids but it's also okay if it's not.  That maybe you don't have to find your "tribe" but rather just a few good friends who show up.

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.



  1. #relatable Oh I can relate to this. I often joke and say "I have no life" but it is true. I'm 37 and have twin 1-yr-olds, a 3-yr-old, work full time, and crash into my bed at 8pm every night from exhaustion. My husband and I haven't gone on a date in forever, mainly b/c we are so tired that we can't stay awake past 8pm, knowing a baby will be waking at 5am the next day. I miss my old friends but I just don't feel the connection any more; we no longer have anything in common. This post gives me hope that some day, some way, I will be myself again and once again have a "life of my own". Thank you .

  2. This is my Monday, well this is my most days. I have been blessed to be a stay at home mom of 3 wonderful children. Staying at home was great in the beginning, besides, my husband wanted me home with them. Fast forward 14 years and all firsts are done, no one really needs me at school. I am lonely. Many days I sit at my computer in awe of the life some have created for themselves and think I should do that too...However, my circumstances are different. I have been looking for a part time job, but no one wants to hire a stay at home mom who was not at the top of her career game when she left. I did have a brief stint of working full time a couple of years ago, but my children suffered greatly and I was forced to quit. (We have no family where we live, my husband travels for a living and being different(a minority) in the affluent community we live in is not welcoming). So here I sit today, reading blogs, checking job posting sites for ANYTHING I may qualify for, dinner in the oven, my husband at the airport for his trip, my children at school and me alone in silence at my home. Tribe? Nope, they have either moved, gone back to work or we have fallen out of favor with one another because our children no longer interact....What do I plan to do about it? I'm not sure. I am praying a job is the answer. To get me out of the house and communicating with others a few times a week. I took up yoga as well, so we will see how that develops....Life is a journey, both good and bad. I am sure there is a reason for this, and I am comforted by the words of this too shall pass.

  3. Wonderful text, Julia! I also feel pretty lonely, especially after I left a group of friends that was not adding much in my life. Was it superficial? It was, but I feel a tremendous lack. And so far, almost 1 year later, I have not yet been able to replace them with other people with more content and commitment. But I will not give up, it is better to have few good friends than a lot of people you know who just do not connect with your innermost.

  4. This totally spoke to my heart! I loved a lot when I was younger and never really had an official "tribe" like I would have loved! My husband and I moved to Minnesota about 6 years ago and while I have some girlfriends- I wish I had found more of my "tribe"! Glad I'm not alone in this!

  5. Motherhood can be so isolating, especially when you're a stay at home. I really wish I had known this before I had kids, for some reason I guess I never thought I might be house bound thanks to baby and toddler schedules. I've finally over the past year really started to find my tribe, I do think as my kids grow older and their interests change my friends will come and go as they did when I was a child but I think I've got a few good close ones that I know will stick around. Making friends as an adult, even as a sahm is so much harder than college or work! I can remember some trips to playdates and the park feeling almost like a date, haha I hope she likes me and wants have wine with me sometime.

  6. You don't have to be a young mother to be lonely, Julia. I've been dealing with the same thoughts over the past few years since my husband took a government job in DC and we moved to Arlington, Va. My kids are grown, live 5-6 hours away, I'm not working (by choice) and there are many days when I long for a best friend to go to lunch with. I am like one person who commented and you as well, I think. I don't mesh with just anyone, like a lot of people I know, who go to all kinds of functions, get along with everyone and are always invited out. I am the type who meets one wonderful person every 10-15 years who meets my needs and shares my loves. We stay in touch as one of us moves away, which is good, but I miss my lunch partner. Keep looking, find an outlet where you'll meet like-minded people, volunteer. You're a wonderful woman, a great mom and that very special tribe is out there for you. You're particular about the ones who'll share your life and your little family. Nothing at all wrong with that.

  7. Your words have stayed with me since I read them yesterday. I think so many women can relate to you (including me). It's funny that you mentioned sex and the city because as I was reading this I thought it sounded like something Carrie Bradshaw would write. Thanks for sharing!

  8. So glad I saw this today. I feel like I'm consistently searching for my tribe. For years as a SAHM I've struggled with loneliness. Most of my girlfriends live 30 mins away and find it hard to get together. I would say that I've never had a best friend other than my husband. You know...someone who would just call to see how you are doing randomly and just gets you. I call my group of girlfriends my besties but it's like out of sight out of mind with them since I live in a different town. It's lonely and sad. I've been finding time to hang out with another local mom who seems to share the same interests in hopes to develop a closer bond and get rid of the loneliness feeling. Sometimes I blame myself for feeling this way but It' good to hear I'm not alone

  9. I love this post. I have been feeling exactly this way and have been down about it. So glad I'm not alone! I'm a SAHM and I'll be turning 50 in August (of course, I don't feel 50, I still feel like I'm 30 ish :). I have a 5 and 7 year old. We've moved to a different state since having kids. Before becoming a mom, I remember meeting up with friends for drinks or coffee. I would take the time to e-mail people a nice "letter" if we hadn't spoken in a while, and I'd make time to call them too. Now, with social media (I'm talking Facebook mostly), it feels like people have stopped writing, calling, e-mailing, and even making time to meet for coffee. I decided this year, I'm going to get out of the house more and make more of an effort to spend quality time with friends, old (most of my old friends live far away, but some are only and hour or two away) and new (this involves stepping out of my comfort zone, but it's ok). I just started going to a YMCA to work out 3x a week, and just getting out and being around people in our community, even if I don't know them, has helped. Also, I've noticed that I have missed the endorphins that exercise provides. It really does lift the spirit. So glad to know I'm not alone in this feeling, you've articulated it so well here Julia. Have a great weekend!

  10. um, i think i'm your tribe. especially after reading your post just now about self doubt...couldnt find your email but have lots more to say...just know that i hear ya.


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