Today you showed up. It took a lot to get you here, and I know it was not easy. You had to writhe yourself out of bed extra early, after a night of interrupted sleep, just to shower. You had to stay up late the night before anyway to wash your favorite (only) pair of jeans that fit. You wanted to wear your favorite shirt…yeah, I know, the one with the mustard stain. You wanted to look nice. You paced back and forth outside your closet pulling out piece after piece. You were hard on yourself for the newly formed love handles poking out the sides of everything you tried on.
You were unsure which felt more foreign: your body or your wardrobe.
You had a ten minute internal debate about whether you should switch it up from your regular ponytail or not. Then you spent the next twenty minutes straightening your hair. You had to change a diaper or two, get breakfast on the table, and lay out the morning routine like a road map for your significant other. Your baby clung to your leg begging you to stay. You transferred the car seat into your husband’s car. Your freshly smoothed hair began to poof and curl in the humidity.
By the time you finally sat down in the driver’s seat, with keys in hand, your mommy guilt punched you in the gut. You swallowed it and started the car. Then your palms began to sweat and the nerves kicked in. I know you used to make friends so easily, but it seems different now…harder.
I know confidence used to radiate out of you, but now it shrinks and hides.
You began questioning your decision to go to this meet up altogether.
Will I say the right thing?
Will I make any friends? Is my outfit okay?
Will all these other moms notice how frizzy my hair is?
Will I have fun?
Will they like me?
Your stomach turned as a thousand questions of doubt ran through your head, but you didn’t give up. You turned on your favorite song. You took a deep breath. You hushed the guilt and apprehension the way you do your newborn baby. You embarked on the seemingly never-ending quest for mom friends. You parked the car and walked into the unknown. I hope you did not feel alone. You were not alone, because that’s how my morning went, too. (And yes, I also have a beloved mustard stained shirt.)
You see, I have been looking for my mom tribe and yet, I still somehow feel that I’m wandering aimlessly through the jungle by myself, and as I pass by, other mamas congregate and connect. It’s as if everyone is playing along as I watch from the sidelines. No one ever warned me how isolating motherhood can be. Or how difficult it can be to make friends in a place where you don’t know many people and have a young child at home. The loneliness is sometimes unbearable.
It’s as if everyone is playing along as I watch from the sidelines. No one ever warned me how isolating motherhood can be.
The thing is, I’m not alone, because I showed up today, and so did you. We both crave community. We are both looking for our tribe and today we made the first step of finding it. We put ourselves out there. We mustered up the courage and the confidence to step off our jungle path and submerge ourselves in that congregation of mothers. We tried to connect.
Today, I am proud of you mama. Today, you smiled at me and said hello. You told me your name and muttered small talk about bagels, and I needed it just as much as you did. Today, you were so brave and you looked your best! Today, I paid no attention to your hair or your love handles. I spent more time noticing how our conversation made me feel less alone. Today, you were strong and powerful.
Today was the first baby step of many, and one day you will walk steadily arm in arm with your tribe.
I know this because today you showed up. I know it will take time and practice. But you will continue to arrive and say hello. You will master small talk. Your confidence will grow in strides. You will keep trying again and again. You will keep wandering off the path and stepping into groups of mamas. You will make friends. You will have fun. They will like you. You will not give up. And neither will I.
Keep trekking on mama! Your tribe is waiting!