In 2014 I heard the term “mom tribe” for the first time.
Of my very few girlfriends, only a handful were what you would consider close relationships. Even fewer yet were mothers. I’d had no reason to be familiar with that term up until then, because before a cold morning in December, I’d had no use for mom tribes.
Just like most new moms, I struggled in the beginning. I had questions, I felt inadequate, and I wondered more often than not if I was even cut out for all of this.
My daughter was what most people called a “high needs” baby. At least, that’s what everyone kept telling me. What I actually had was a baby with a severe milk soy protein intolerance that caused her constant stomach pain, discomfort, and an inability to gain weight.
It was because of this, that I couldn’t put her down, ever. When I look back it seems like she was latched on at least 20 hours a day. I couldn’t shower, couldn’t eat, I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without her in my arms.
Our adjustment period was long and arduous. Between becoming a new parent, having a sick baby, and my entire life changing when I ended up not returning to work, I felt set adrift in a vast empty sea. I was scared, I was tired, and above all else, I was lonely.
When I wasn’t crying right along with my daughter, I was online, researching question after question. Lacking close friends to confide in, or ask the questions I felt like no other reasonable mother would ask, I spent my sleepless nights with my new best friend, Google. It was there, in one of thousands of anonymous online parenting forums, that I discovered baby wearing. A once universal, but long since forgotten, parenting accessory that involved literally strapping a baby to your chest and getting back to (most) of your daily activities.
It was life changing.
I felt like a human being again. I joined a local baby wearing group and learned even more. Slowly, my life began to get a little easier. I still struggled, but at least I could fold laundry and make myself lunch while I was doing it.
There were a lot of friendly moms in my baby wearing group. When I confided one day that I was still feeling like I hadn’t quite gotten my parenting legs yet, someone recommended I join the local Facebook mom group.
The Facebook mom group. It was a magical place where like minded moms came together to share their parenting trials, triumphs, and questions. I discovered that there were groups specific to every parenting niche; breastfeeding, attachment parenting, baseball… everything.
It took me a while to discover what my mom niche was going to be. Finally, I managed to find my place in a local “crunchy mom” group. Although I’m probably more Scrunchy* than Crunchy, I eagerly clicked join.
That was about two years ago and haven’t looked back since. While I have never managed to make a planned meet up (between naps and other responsibilities I can never seem to get my schedule to work for that) I have met plenty of these moms.
One became my grandmother’s hospice nurse, another is my postpartum doula. One gave me a swing set, another did my taxes.
I have gone to them with parenting questions, and general questions about life. They have recommended doctor’s offices and realtors.
A few weeks ago I left a routine OB appointment in tears. The doctor informed me that our daughter was measuring almost two weeks behind where she was supposed to be. While two weeks was the cut off for when they typically worried, due to some other risk factors, they wanted to schedule a growth scan.
Sobbing, I called my husband as I pulled out of the parking lot. I told him what was going on and what my fears were. I asked him to take off from work and go to the appointment with me so I wouldn’t have to be alone if they were going to tell me that something was seriously wrong.
The first thing I did when I got home was to log onto Facebook and run my fingers over to my mom group. Typing as fast as I could, I explained what I was thinking and feeling.
I sent up a flag and begged for help. For someone, anyone, to talk me down and tell me that nothing was wrong and that I should listen to my doctor and not stress out. That two weeks was not an uncommon difference in either direction.
Those mothers quickly rallied around me. They took turns telling me their own horror stories and reminded me that this isn’t actually a science. Estimated due dates are just that, estimated. My due date could be wrong and I could actually be two weeks less pregnant than they were assuming.
Within ten minutes of asking for help from these woman, most of them strangers, I was able to dry my eyes and regain composure. I called my husband and told him that I no longer felt like the sky was falling. He didn’t need to rearrange his schedule to join me at the ultrasound. I was confident that everything was going to be just fine (which it was, at the growth scan everything measured as it should).
It was those mothers that gave me that confidence. The truth is that I will probably never meet most of them. I will never have the chance to tell them that sometimes, in my lowest moments, they have lifted me back up.
For that, I consider them friends.
I think that everyone needs a Facebook mom group in their lives. Yeah, maybe you have mom friends in real life that make up your mom tribe. Maybe you can call them to rally around you in a moment’s notice (and if you do, well aren’t you fancy with your real life friends).
However, if you’re like me, and you such a group is missing from your life, have no fear. Because somewhere out there your mom tribe is waiting for you, and all you have to do is click “join”.
Parenting is hard enough, you don’t have to do it alone.
*Scrunchy = Sort of crunchy. Its a real thing. I promise.