Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Single Mom's Tribe

I've been thinking a lot about sisterhood in recent weeks and what that means to me. I'm a firm believer that all women - yes, ALL women - need other women in their lives to be their sister-friends.

A tribe.

Women who will be there for you at the drop of hat. Women who will be there to tell you how amazing you are. Women who will be there to tell you how wrong you are or how idiotic you're being. Women who will pick up the pieces with you, who will encourage you, who will support you, and who will push you to be better and do better. Some of your tribe will be there daily, at the very minute you need them. You may not speak to others for weeks or months, but you always seem to pick up where you left off. 

But I think having a reliable tribe of women is of singular importance to single mothers. And here's why:

The amount of balls that single mothers juggle at any given moment is enough to exhaust a busload of 23-year-old fuckboys amped on cocaine and Red Bull. The energy, organization, patience, attention, and care that is required of mothers every minute of every day is on another level. As a single mom, though, you're just ONE person. I don't care how much of a supermom, badass woman, or efficient scheduler you think you are - as a single mom, there will inevitably come a time when you will not be able "to do it all." You will falter and need help and support. You will need an ear or shoulder. You will need advice. You will need another woman.

I can't count the number of times since my divorce that I've called on one of my tribe members. Some of them may not even know they're part of my tribe, but if a woman steps up when she sees me struggling, she's part of my fucking tribe - whether she likes it or not. And I won't ever let her forget it. 

One of my tribe is a woman I call "my hubby." If we were lesbians, we'd be married by now. She lives in another state, and we sometimes go weeks without connecting, but I know she's always there for both encouragement and to play Devil's Advocate. She's one of the few people who has no problem telling me if I'm being ridiculous or wrapped up in my own head. We talk relationships, kids, jobs, and LOTS of politics - we've disagreed vehemently on any number of topics, but it never gets nasty. Not once. We love and respect each other. She is one of the few people whose advice, guidance, and perspective I trust implicitly. 

I've been friends with one member of my tribe for almost 14 years. I've always lived in the same place throughout our sisterhood, but she's traveled all over the world. In her travels, she sees the best of what the world has to offer, meets new people, and experiences things that most people only read about. I've been at the same job for 10 years and am raising my kids. There have been times we talk a few days per week, and there have been times we've gone 6 months without a word. But we "get" each other. Different walks of life, but an incredibly similar perspective on life - that it's meant to be enjoyed and experienced. She's the one sister I can always count on for belly laughs, good times, and deep conversations that are peppered with wisecracks that become inside jokes. I believe we have a string between us that has connected us throughout our lives - one that is unbreakable and based on a deep, mutual love and shared worldview.

Another member of my tribe is a woman I met a year ago who I believe may be my long-lost sister. Our birthdays are 5 days apart, she's a fellow single mother, and we both have "ex problems." We both work our asses off at our jobs and stay involved with our children and their lives. We both are shitshows when we drink, but we take care of each other and always have a great time. We lament shitty dating situations and celebrate all the good things with each other. We've been called "Double Trouble" more times than I can count. She's probably the best listener I've ever met and the calmest, most loving voice when you need someone on your side. She's beautiful inside and out, and I have no idea how I would have made it through my divorce without her.

There is a woman in my tribe who I became friends with two and a half years ago, and I still hold her in awe. She's the epitome of strength. She kicks ass in everything she does, yet she's still sweet and goofy. She's also a single mother, raising three kids on her own, who runs her own business. I've told her many times that I probably wouldn't have had the strength to leave my ex if I hadn't met her and seen how much ass she kicks all on her own. She's an incredible example to women, and she's always there when it counts. She's helped me with my kids and my animals, and bailed me out of tough situations. I've helped her with business and family drama, and will forever have her back at the drop of a hat. Our sisterhood is fierce, driven, and revolves around always being and doing better than we did yesterday. 

And then there's my biological sister. My little sister. My baby sister. My, my - how proud I am of the woman she's become. We've always been fairly close and loved each other fiercely, but she hasn't always been part of my tribe until recently. We've grown closer as we've gotten older and wiser ("wiser" might be an overstatement). At this point in my life, I can honestly say I've never loved and respected another woman the way I love and respect her. Our sisterhood is a little bit of each of the aforementioned relationships all rolled into one. She lives in another state and we don't connect daily, but we always connect regularly. We are two chips off the same block of wood. We can be true to our feelings around each other. We call each other when we are going through tough times, and we scream, cry, cuss like sailors, laugh, cuss some more, and usually find palatable solutions. We always hang up feeling better than we did before. We would do anything in our power for each other.

Having a tribe of sisters is one of the few things in life that is imperative for women - particularly single mothers. We need these women in our lives to drive us, support us, listen to us, champion us, disagree with us, laugh with us, cry with us, and love us. You never know when or where you will meet these women, but please be open to it. Don't automatically revert to separating yourself from other women or judging them. All of the women in my tribe differ from me in some way, but that's what makes our bonds so unbreakable. Respect, acceptance, and love always come first because we recognize that we need each other.

So, let the women around you into your life. Sisterhood is worth it.

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