A tribe. Important, right, at this crucial turning point in your life? Initially, I thought not. I brushed it off as yet another millennial phrase – another unnecessary parenting gimmick, like wet wipe warmers and buggies that cost more than a small car. But then I thought about it. All my friends with babies were due to move away two months before I was due (husbands = teachers =new jobs = far away) and I have no family nearby. Who the chuffing hell was I going to talk to about poop and rashes?!
In his book ‘Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us’, Seth Godin reflects, “For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” Of course! Makes absolute sense. But where the Dickens does one ‘find’ a tribe?*
The thought of NCT classes filled me with dread. Apart from a ‘lucky few’, my friends all had pretty negative tales to tell. At best, they were in a group full of nice enough folk but with whom they felt no connection. At worst, they were in the wrong town (due to their local group being full) or found it, as one friend put it, ‘a load of b*llocks… woman acting out labour who actually looked like she was having the best sex of her life! Did not prepare me in the slightest. Just terrified me! ’**.
We decided against them very early on; I wanted to use the money for hypnobirthing classes and Phil was just relieved not to be subjected to ‘Rent a Friend’**.
I joined a class called ‘Relax, Stretch & Breathe’ (ironically run by the NCT!) to, well, relax, obviously, but also in the hope of meeting some other women with which I had something in common aside from simply being expectant mothers.
Within a few months, our tribe was created. Initially, these girls were known to my husband as: The One Who’s Having her Second (AKA: The Brave One), The Two Who Save Me a Mat Every Week When I’m Late, The One I Already Know But Not That Well, The One with Fibroids and The One Who Lives in Our Old Village.
Now, they are my absolute crutch. Sure, I may have made it through the past year without them, but I would likely be a bit of a wreck. We’ve seen each other at our lowest and shared in each other’s happy moments. Whenever one of the babies learns something new, we all celebrate. The babies (now toddlers) are so familiar with one another that they get excited when we meet up and it’s a regular occurrence to have any one of the seven of them crawl or toddle over for a cuddle.
I recently heard a quotation by Anne Lamott: “… the reason life works at all is that not everyone in your tribe is nuts on the same day.” Never a truer word spoken!
* Our next post is dedicated to helping you find your tribe.
** In the interest of a balanced and impartial post, here are some of the lovely things a quick FB prompt elicited…
- Friends and non-judgemental support when you need it most.
- Amazingly supportive friends, without whom I would have sunk without a trace.
- Twenty three years ago…an unusual, non-interventionist, slightly anti NHS yet still positive, mother-centred approach to pregnancy and child birth… I felt empowered enough to go on to have two successful home births because of NCT.
Jo, The Mother Side x