Thursday, January 2, 2014

Finding a Tribe of my own...

How do you find your tribe in today’s society?

As I’ve been home with Finn for nearly the past two years, I have struggled with my decision to be a stay at home mamma at times, questioning the “quality vs. quantity” of time spent with my little guy, and wondering how our journey will evolve so that everyone feels completely supported and loved.  In my bones I know home with Finn is where I'm supposed to be, and don’t get me wrong, eighty-five percent of the time I spend laughing, splashing in puddles, drawing on windows and feeling gratefully blissful as I sing Finnegan to sleep at naptime…but every so often, I get kicked in the gut with impatience or frustration, and a deep loneliness and yearning overtakes me.  It has opened me to reflection on how I want to grow on this journey. 

One thing that has struck me very recently, is the lack of a tribe in my life.  The village it takes to raise a child is comprised of Reid and me.  While we are the best team I know of, it sometimes doesn’t protect me from that loneliness of physical isolation.  Part of it is simply being in a new community, finding my small place on an Alaskan island.  Part of me wonders if it’s just society today.  We are raised so independently, and have such autonomy over our own lives, but perhaps that comes at a rather lonely cost at times.  Many of us no longer have aunties and grandmas close by to help give advice and encouragement, simply by their physical presence.  To want to be with and see our kiddos, for those indulgent breaks from parenting before we feel overwhelmed and need that break to take time for own sanity.   Time away from Finn scheduled after I’ve felt overwhelmed somehow carries a twinge of guilt for me.  

Over the holidays, hosting guests in our home, I was struck at how heart warming and encouraging it is to see other people love on your kid.  That seeing others experiencing joy out of being around Finn was one of the most nourishing things for me to experience as a mother.  To witness the effect he has on people close to us.  It also made me realize that those experiences are very rare, for we simply don’t live around family. 

This year, I am deciding to find ways to nourish and support my tribe.  For Finnegan, for me, for our family.  To engage the tribe that I do have around me, just not physically.  It will have to be unorthodox, and I will have to get creative.  Three aunties, three uncles, and three grandparents, all living afar.  Two best friends who live afar.  A new community filled with some of the best people and mamas.   An amazing extended family who I sometimes feel I barely know, yet love to death.  This will be my journey of the year.  

I want to connect.  

I’m kicking if off by spending a quarter of a year with my parents in Salcha.  While Reid finishes his Ph.D, something that will be great for his soul and sanity, I’ll be hanging with grandma and grandpa, as well as doing a little theatre.  I’m curious and excited to see how we find ways to incorporate family, our whole family, into our everyday lives.  That is, perhaps, my New Year’s resolution.  Perhaps it will be through handwritten letters exchanged.  Or collaborative Skype calls with the whole family.  Or more scheduled vacations just hanging with family.  Or elaborate, extensive family reunions…I’m up for it all.   Let’s start a conversation about it, at the very least.  I want my mommies (both Reid’s and mine!) and sisters.  I know we get on each others nerves half the time, but I’m really wishing we could all be on the same block.  As that is impossible, we’ll have to get creative.  I’m open to suggestions as to how anyone reading this might foster that sense of “tribe” in their lives.