I just finished reading The Red Tent. It was a wonderful novel that illustrated the sacred nature of relationships between women. What I found over the days I read it was I felt so nostalgic for the days when I was a new mother and I had a tribe of my own.
Bella was born in Texas, a place where I felt utterly alone. When we made the move to Florida, I vowed to connect with others and find friends for myself and my baby girl. Bella was 5-months-old when we began our new life and I went about finding those friends I longed for. I started at a group for breastfeeding mothers and met the first three women who would join my circle. My neighbor rang my doorbell with her 5 month old in tow and at the community pool I introduced myself to another new mother who was also new to town. From that point we gathered at Wemoon Spirit, a women’s community center, where we were joined by three more moms. There we circled up, sang songs, nursed our babies, and joked about the vagina chair that sat in the corner.
In the end there were ten of us and we met like this again and again at different places for three more years. We shared our birth stories, tales of sleepless nights, and offered each other advice on all that we were learning in this new role in our lives. Over time there were new pregnancies and new babies joined the group. Our nursing toddlers finally weened and baby brothers and sisters took their places at our breasts.
Soon enough our little ones were beginning preschool. The hours in our weeks were becoming filled up with new activities and tasks. Life was leading us out of the red tent we had created for ourselves. I busied myself with meditation workshops, self-help books, and the resurrection of my writing life. When the fourth year was over my friends, the women who’d held my hand through the early days of motherhood, were farther away than I had realized.
As I read the book last week, I was reminded of how blessed I was to have had those women in my life. (They did so much for me, including stepping in and being the family that took care of me through a difficult c-section recovery.) Though most of us are still connected in some way, whether through church, school, or our neighborhoods, we will never again be the tribe we were in those first three years. Wherever my life takes me I will always remember them and those wonderful Oxytocin filled hours we spent together learning what it meant to be mothers.
My advice to new mother’s is to go find yourself a tribe and build your own red tent. The love and warmth of those days will stay with you forever.
I’ll leave you with a deep bow of gratitude to my Tally Toddler Tamers!