On Friday July 22nd, I presented at Talk20 Hutch. Talk20 Hutch is an event where 10 presenters tell a story using 20 slides and spending only 20 seconds per slide. Trying to tell a story in 6 minutes and 40 seconds is no easy task, but everyone did an amazing job. None of us knew what any of the other presenters were planning on talking about but pretty quickly it became apparent that the unofficial theme of the night was community. Below is what I presented. Or if you would rather watch the presentation check out the video here.
Something starts to change about you the moment you see a positive pregnancy test. Whether this was planned or not, the process of losing your current self has begun. No matter how much I told myself not to or how many people warn me not to let it happen, I changed. It was an inevitable part of life. A coping mechanism for adjustment.
I became a parent, something like nothing I was before, and suddenly I was expected to take care of this tiny, tiny person that I honestly knew nothing about. I mean, you know them, but at the same time you don’t. Taking care of this person means that your life, your schedule, and sometimes your sanity are no longer your own.
And to be perfectly honest, your new little person has no idea how to properly manage a schedule or your sanity. They suck at it. Just terrible. Between mixing up days and nights, expecting to be fed every hour on the hour, unexplainable amounts of diaper changes and unreasonable amounts of crying from us both slowly but surely I started to find myself again.
It was a new and often completely different self, but I found her right alongside this new tiny person. And together we grew and changed. It is a beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. And it can also leave you feeling so deeply alone. When your focus becomes so engrossed in one thing, surviving, you start to feel like you are on an island.
I lost track of days and friends and activities because tiny little people don’t understand what those things are, and frankly they don’t care to learn. It is that losing of myself and feelings of being alone that lead me to find my tribe. What is a tribe? It is a group of people who are just there.
They are there to help you get through life, anything and everything that entails. Get you through teething and sleep regressions. The terrible twos and preteen drama. Sometimes they gather around you in large groups. Other times they are simply checking in, one on one, because something made them think of you.
Maybe they bring you coffee and sit with you chatting for a while, ignoring your messy house. Or they take your older children to the park after your newest has just arrived. Once, I met up with a friend outside the grocery store. She brought me something she had that the store was completely out of.
She was on her way to an appointment and just added it to her bag of supplies that every parent carts around with them. In exchange, I handed her a pack of diapers I had just picked up in the store. She was out at home and our exchange prevented her from having to drag both of her kids into and back out of the store before the appointment. We helped each other.
Your tribe are the ones who will commiserate with you when you cancel dinner because the baby crapped their pants 3 minutes before you were ready to leave. Oh, and it turns out their super helpful older sibling has now spread that mess all over the house in an attempt to get it cleaned up. True story.
Of course, once your friends hear about this, they are most definitely laughing in horror at what your evening has turned into. But, at least you have someone to share these moments with. Because no one else will believe you that these things happen. Your tribe is also a group of parents that you just trust for advice.
A group you can turn to when something out of the ordinary happens. Not only are these people important during the good and funny times, but they are even more important during the hard times too. There are times that you will need someone and you won’t even know it.
You may not want to share your burdens with them because you don’t want to bring them down. But the great thing is, they don’t mind. They are going to help you carry those burdens instead. They are going to get you out of the house when you just need some time to decompress.
They’ll help you write thank you notes after your grandma’s funeral and they’ll even bring you food when your little one is in the hospital. They are your people. Your tribe to share this amazing journey, of parenting and life with. They’ll help keep you grounded. They’ll help you feel safe and human again even when you haven’t had a shower in days.
They let you know you aren’t alone. So, how did I find my tribe and how can you find yours? A quick Facebook search and you can join a local group of parents and begin looking for those your connect with as a parent. I can highly suggest Mid Kansas Mommies as one of those amazing places to connect with others.
But, don’t let it stop there. Don’t stay behind the glow of your devices. Find something you are passionate about as a parent. Whether it is breastfeeding or baby wearing or one of the other million possible parenting philosophies out there. Join in and go to a meet up. Gather and chat and learn something new with adults.
Maybe you don’t want to join a parenting group? That’s fine! You can have a tribe that isn’t focused on parenting. Join a sports league, look for a local group you can volunteer with, or join YP. Get involved with others out there trying to make a difference in your community. Follow your passion and find people who share it.
Then, and here is the kicker, don’t just find your tribe and do nothing. Be an active and willing tribe member too. I had to learn this the hard way. Once you have found your group, go out and be that safe place for others. Give back. Be willing to sit down next to the new mom or dad at your group meeting. Take the new intern under your wing.
Enjoy the connection with others when you need it, but don’t be afraid to give it to others in need too. In order for a tribe to function, everyone gets and gives. There will be times, when your life feels completely put together (hopefully) and you don’t need the support as much anymore. Great, stay connected and be that support for someone else.
A really important thing that I want to mention in closing, is that finding a tribe, it isn’t just for new parents. Everyone, everywhere, at every stop in their life will need a tribe. Are you moving? Find your new tribe. New job? Go out and meet new people in your field. Are you going back to school? Great, start with a study group.
Would you like to make a difference in your community? Then get out and connect with others that share your passions. Life is full of changes, some easy and some hard. We all go through them and becoming a parent is definitely one of the harder ones. Just no matter what change it is, do me a favor and don’t live this life alone, go out and find your tribe.