Ever since I became a mother I have come across articles and social media posts where women talk about finding their “tribe”. For a while, during those first few months of motherhood, feeling so insecure and alone, I wondered if I was supposed to find my own tribe; maybe one would miraculously appear in my life, surround me with warmth and hugs and reassuring phrases, telling me that I would be OK. Motherhood came easily to me, the love, the nurturing, the happiness, but adapting to all of the changes was a little harder. I would continue to read about women describing their tribe, see beautiful pictures on social media of women and their friends, all their children playing together happily and hope that one day I could do the same.
And then suddenly I realised… This “tribe” I was thinking of is no other than my best friends. I already have my tribe; there was no need to find a new one. Just because certain things shift when you have a child (or two in my case), doesn’t mean that everything changes. Sometimes you just need to crawl through the fog to realize this. Just because you become a mother doesn’t automatically mean you need to find a group of “mummy friends”. You will make some along the way, most certainly, but those who have been with you through thick and thin still “get” you, or they do in my case anyway!
I’ve lived in many places, travelled to many countries, settled and then uprooted myself time and time again, and in every place I have left a group of friends behind. Some friends are there for life, an intricate bond that cannot be broken by time or distance, others are friends for a time, and with distance you lose touch. Some friends appear out of the blue and stay there for life; some come and go, weaving in and out of your path. Hearts are broken and sometimes healed again, friends are forgiven and forgotten; friends forgive and move on. Friendship is a give and take and there are always those where the give and the take are easy and seamless, and then there are others where it demands work, sometimes too much. I’ve always been a little wary of female friendships, having been burnt in the past by people, but those that I have really let in have my heart forever.
There is the one who became a mother at the same time as me, our children rolling, crawling and walking together. The one who knew I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that I hadn’t slept in three months. We would nurse our children for hours on the couch for hours, chatting about life, motherhood, or just bathing in silence. She is one who I can talk to at any time of the day or the night, who would come visit us in our apartment in Queens and bring treats and who I now miss terribly since we moved across the country.
There is the one who I met in a bar all those years ago and who I call my best friend. We’ve been through so much together and through so much separately. We have traveled through time together, angered each other, unintentionally hurt each other, held each other and laughed through too many wonderful, silly and exciting moments. She is still the first person I tell anything to, the one person who I know will always have a proper opinion or advice on something that I am struggling with and who will always write the best cards, be they for me or my children. Cards that I save and cherish. And she also happens to be the most wonderful baby shower organizer.
There is the one who I worked with, so much younger than me, but at times so much older than her years. A real free spirit, never to be held down by anything, that beautiful smile always raining down on you, making you feel so important and worthy. She will come crashing into your life like a bolt of lightning and wraps you in her relentless energy, ready to jump into any adventure that you are planning. She’s the one I want to nurture and protect but at the same time need to let fly free as she has everything to discover and no boundaries will stop her. She was my Sunday afternoon partner, bringing food and stories, while let her rest her weary feet before her next adventure into the unknown. My little fiery wild child, so similar to myself at her age, but with all of the confidence that I lacked.
There are the two ladies who were my friends way before I was a mother, and mothers way before I even imagined having a child. At one point we were all thousands of miles apart, but that didn’t stop them giving me advice and comfort when I needed it. One of them has the knack of calling whenever I most need to chat, and always making me feel like I am not going insane, and that everything is completely normal.
There are my Irish and English beauties, and even though we haven’t lived on the same continent for well over a decade, we still communicate regularly, see each other when we can and support each other in our endeavours. We’ve known each other at our best and at our worst, we’ve partied together and been sober together, drank tea and eaten brunch, watched each other grow and shine and move forward and sometimes backwards. Sister from another mister and best friend, all three of us “met” online and became friends in person all those years ago.
Then there are the ladies that I have befriended through my writing and my thoughts, the kind and helpful ladies, the ones that encourage each other to persevere with their work and creativity, who always seem to appear when the going gets tough and you hit a wall. Kind of like an online cheerleading team, but one that cheers each other on, constantly. I never really feel alone anymore, even at 3am when everyone is sleeping and those silly thoughts of failure kick in.
And last, but not least, my sister, the one whose head I tried to pull off when she was a baby, whose obsession with Elvis lasted until well into adulthood and with whom I can have the most epic arguments and still talk to as if nothing happened five minutes later. I don’t always believe that you have to be friends with your family no matter what, but I do believe in my sister as much as she believes in me. I hope that my girls will be able to love each other as much as we do.
My tribe, my “family”, those people who never let you go, even when you push them away, and in return, who you will never let go either. I think back to those days when I thought I was supposed to do it alone, sitting there nursing endlessly through the night, wishing I had someone to talk to, and then feeling silly in the morning. I always had someone to talk to; my tribe was always there for me, just as I am always there for them. I had to learn that it was OK to reach out and say “I need you”. No one is really superwoman, but we are all superwomen together.