Ever since I first started having kids I rarely asked anyone for help. My thinking was that my husband and I are the ones who decided to have the kids, therefore it is our responsibility to take care of them. This way of thinking carried over into every aspect of my life. The only people that I felt comfortable asking for help from were my parents. On the flip side, anytime one of my friends has needed help I always try to do what I can for them. I'm also a bit of a perfectionist and like certain things to be done a certain way so I figured it was just easier to do everything myself.
As I had more kids I began seeing people I knew making references to "their tribe". I thought is was silly at first. I just couldn't wrap my head around why people wanted or even needed all these other people helping to raise their kids! Those other people had no part in bringing their kids into the world. And, anyway, don't people have various parenting styles? Won't the kids get confused by all the different rules? It just made no sense. Not to mention the fact that I was on the verge of having 5 kids; who would want to help us out anyway? That's a lot of kids to manage if you're just used to 1 or 2. So, even during my fifth pregnancy when I was on the couch with severe nausea for 13 weeks after recently moving to a new city with no family close by I still didn't ask for any help except from my husband.
And these moms-nights-out? What?!?! I couldn't even go on a date with my husband without a kid attached to my boob. I'm not complaining really. It's just the stage of life I was in and my choice was to only breastfeed with no bottles whatsoever. Still, I didn't see the importance of going out with other moms sans kids.
Now, my youngest is 4. I am officially out of the depths of the parental trenches. My kids are pretty self sufficient and help each other out a fair amount. I finally don't feel like the crazy mom just trying to make it through the day with one kid on my boob, another around my ankle, another watching me pee, yet another begging to be read to and my oldest whom I wonder if he's getting enough attention. Those were some hard years but now I'm starting to understand that I made it harder by not allowing others to help me.
Over the last several months since I started a field trips group for homeschoolers and the co op I have started making some important friends. My eyes are finally opening to the beauty in a tribe. These are women who genuinely care about my well-being and that of my kids. These women aren't trying to parent my children as I once thought would happen. They all just want to play positive roles in the lives of my children.
These beautiful souls will do anything to help me out. Just this week my husband had to go out of town unexpectedly. He took the only car we have. Yes, 1 car for 3 years. It usually works out just fine, til it doesn't. This was one of those times. He had a very good reason for going that I fully supported but it meant that I wouldn't be able to go to a Halloween party with my kids that they'd been looking forward to for several days. It was so hard telling them that plans had changed and we wouldn't be able to go. They were disappointed but they really took the news like champs. After sulking for a little while I decided to call Uber. I didn't really want to spend the money but I wanted my kids to be happy. It was actually a fun adventure and we had a cool driver with some hilarious stories! When we arrived to our friend's house and told them about Uber they all told me that I shouldn't have done that. They were all willing to drop their fun and come pick us up. I was in a bit of shock because I had never been surrounded by a group like this. Over the next 2 days they made sure I had a car to take care of my family. I felt humble and grateful in a way that was so very new to me, but it felt good.
Do you know what these women say when they hear one of us is facing a challenge? "What can I do for you?" I was so used to hearing things like, "I hope your day gets better" or "that really sucks. I'm sorry" or various other similar things. I even say those other things myself sometimes! I'm working on that, though.
It's going to be an adjustment for me to feel comfortable asking for help. It's going to be an adjustment for me to go on these moms-nights-out. However, this is the next stage in my life and family and I am so thankful to be surrounded by such strong, loving and giving women.
As a homeschooling family it's even more important that we make sure to give space for those adult connections. It's sometimes challenging to be around kids all day. A tribe makes it easier.