When Norah was first born, I remember being disappointed that other friends weren't having babies at the same time. Even friends who had babies born just 6 months or even a year behind seemed so much younger. I remember thinking it was such a shame that I wouldn't be able to raise kids with the same clan of friends I'd always had. And then, as the kids grew older, I realized how silly that really was. Kids play with other kids: regardless of gender, gaping age differences, or a seeming lack of interest in the same activities. Put a group of kids together and they'll find a point of connection. It's that simple.
For the past 5 years since being a mom, I've struggled to find a mama clan to connect to. I spent time on the hunt for other mamas with 2 little girls just the same ages as my own girls, mamas who worked full time like me, mamas who shared similar interests. Most of my mama friends in California were either my friends before we were mamas or were women who reached out to me. I kept waiting for the perfect fit.
But, being here I have had to be more bold: introducing myself on our street corner or at the park. Asking candidly about good preschools, cheap groceries, and how to get through rainy days. Being new, afraid, and alone - I've been broken open. I've had to ask and receive others' help and advice. I've realized it was foolish not to reach out when I was comfortable in California. Though we look for similarities as points of connection with others, it is the differences between us and those we love that really enrich our lives.
On one of our first days here, I ran out to the street corner to greet my neighbor as she headed out for a walk with her two boys. I told her I was new to the area and new to being a stay at home mom. A few hours later, she posted a note on my door with some helpful numbers, her own contact information, and the name of a playgroup she thought I might like to join.
Since then the girls and I have been going to the playgroup. We've met a tribe of mamas strong, beautiful, and banded together in raising their kids. They swap advice, babysitting, clothes, and coupons. From the start, they've made us feel invited, welcomed, embraced.
Today, on a group walk with the mamas - I came completely unprepared. Of course, Harper blew out her diaper along the walk and I had nothing to change her into. Another mama offered a change of clothes and a diaper, saying nonchalantly, "just bring it back when you can."
I kept apologizing, mortified and embarrassed.
But, one of the other mothers piped in with these wise words I've probably heard a thousand times before, "We are of the mindset that it takes a village. Just accept the help, and pitch in when you can." It really hit me. I am grateful for the little village here we're already starting to form. And more grateful than ever before for our extended village of friends and family all over the world. Thanks for being a part of our tribe.