You begin life with a tribe.
As a child, that tribe may be your parents, your siblings, classmates or friends; but the simple fact remains true. You have a tribe. You have people in your life to help you do almost everything.
As you grow older, chances are your tribe is defined more closely by a tight knit group of friends. You know, the ones you called (or texted) at all hours of the day and night. The ones you played in little league with. The ones who knew your secrets and the ones you built precious memories with. You may have done homework together, stayed up late cramming for that final exam you had been dreading all semester, or just met up to walk around the mall or whatever kids did in your hometown.
If you’re lucky, your tribe probably later expanded to include a significant other. Your partner in life. You would laugh, go on dates, and enjoy the highs of life together. You lead independent lives, each of equal value and importance. You would conquer the world by day and then reconnect at night. You talked about your days together and made wide-eyed plans for your future. You supported one another in all endeavors. You had a cheerleader.
During that same time, you probably also had your work tribe. Your group of coworkers that you chatted with all day long. You shared more inside jokes than could be counted. You know these people; the ones who would cover for you in a meeting if you were running late. The ones who would complain with you about your crazy boss, the unrealistic expectations or whatever ridiculous idea the company was rolling out that week.
Up until this point, one thing remained true: you had a tribe.
Up until this point: you were a valued member of a tribe.
So what happened to my tribe when I chose to become a stay at home mom? My tribe gradually disappeared. Being home with the baby… I have nobody to continually chat with throughout the day (who can/will actually respond). I have no more inside jokes. I have no common experiences or funny stories to share with my coworkers who have lived in the same moment.
My significant other still leaves the house every day and conquers the world, but when he comes home to tell me about his day I often feel that I have nothing to add in response. The answer to how my day was is usually a summary of the new word our child learned, or a funny thing she did.
Being at home, now all of the household chores fall on me. There’s nobody else in my same position to pick up the laundry if I’m having an off day, or go grocery shopping, or balance our checkbook, or research insurance, or fight the HOA, or whatever the day might hold. My job now is to raise a child. This is the most pure job anybody can have in the world.
Please don’t mistake my words as regret in my choice. I absolutely love being a stay at home mom. I also truly love my husband and appreciate the sacrifices he makes so I can stay home with our daughter. My issue is not with them, my issue is with our society and how it is designed to abandon new moms in a time where they need a tribe the most.
My issue is living in a society that makes me feel less valued as a human, and that seems to have no issue with my depleting sense of self and self worth.
Moms in the cave-man days were valued members of the society. The tribe understood their worth and provided them with the support they needed. The old saying, “it takes a village” is just as true now, as it was back then. Mothers would raise children together so nobody had to carry the weight of the next generation by themselves. When did we lose sight of the importance of the role of a mom at home?
If you are anything like me, your moment of sanity probably involves you sitting on the bathroom floor playing on your phone at the end of the day because that’s the first time you have had two minutes to yourself. Or it might be staying up until 3 o’clock in the morning to watch some mindless television show, sacrificing your sleep just to try and quiet your mind and silence those feelings of insignificance you feel. Fun fact: I’m actually writing this in the wee hours of the morning in an attempt to center my thoughts and frustrations.
We need to do better. We need to support the moms and dads who choose to stay at home to raise their children. We need to define people by more than what is added to their bank accounts each week. We need to rebuild a working tribe.
We need to encourage people to raise their own children and not make them feel like they have given up something in return.
So to the stay at home mom or dad reading this, nodding your heads in agreement… Let it start with us. You are not alone. You are valued. And now, you have a tribe. Reach out to a fellow mommy and let her know she is not alone!
Connect with Caley on Instagram: @caleythemom
Sign up for The Smother Mother’s monthly newsletter