We’ve all seen it. We’ve probably been guilty of it. It’s trendy these days, especially in the mommy world. Labeling your group of friends as your “tribe” which inadvertently sends the message of either “you’re NOT in my tribe” or “you should now feel insecure about whether you have a tribe or not”. I’m not pointing fingers. I’m staring straight at my own guilty mommy face.
Maybe you’re like I was. Maybe you’re obliviously satisfied with just thriving inside your own “tribe” and maybe even going as far as boasting about said tribe. Finding your identity in your perfect circle with Jericho-sized walls built around it. You’re very kind to the faces that don’t belong in your tribe, because you are a genuinely kind person, but you just don’t have room for any more tribe members.
And everyone knows it.
My hubby and I were in a discussion about the growing number of moms who struggle with identity, being seen and where they stand socially, etc. (present company included). I brought up this trend of announcing your tribe and his response was, “There’s absolutely nothing healthy about this whatsoever!” I agree. Am I saying that longevity of friendships shouldn’t exists? Or we should cease the praising of loyal people in our lives? OF COURSE NOT!
When we say that a certain group of friends are our “tribe”, we are expressing that our space for more friendships is limited, and that if you do become my friend, you’ll most likely be kept in the outer circle.
And for some of us, that might actually be the truth. Maybe you have found a happy place of inner and outer circles and are not bothered by people knowing that. If that’s the case, I’m not judging. But for me, I’ve had a change of heart. And I have Wichita to thank for that!
I want to share some personal examples of how we experienced some simple but very intentional open arms when we first arrived on scene here in Wichita. Our family moved to here from Memphis, TN 2 years ago this October. Within a few months we felt so welcomed, loved, and included. Even though I’m sharing our stories, these examples can be, and should be, played out in any city!
Invite a family to join your family to something in your weekly routine.
We were invited to a family’s soccer practice for their young son at the YMCA. We had only lived here a few days, so we decided to go check it out. It ended up being so fun and we met other families that 2 years later are some of our dearest friends! What was a simple invitation to something their family was already doing, was a huge long term impact on our family.
Talk to the other mom at the park.
We were checking out our neighborhood park shortly after moving here. There was only one other mommy and her daughter there. Our daughters began playing which then led to the mommy and I engaging in small talk. Fast forward 2 years, that random mommy at the park is one of my closest friends and our daughters are inseparable. What if she would have not spoken to me that day? Think of how you could change another mommy’s situation by simply making small talk with her at the park.
I’ve been guilty of giving out one act of kindness to a new family in town, then moving on with my life. There are a handful of families here that simply never checked us off their list. Who most likely, since being born and raised here, could gloat about the longevity of their “tribes”. Even if they have one, (which no doubt they do) they have never made us feel like they didn’t have space in their lives for us.
Don’t just invite them to church, take them there.
We were invited to church. Nothing earth shaking about that right? Well, the family that invited us also gave us their address so that we could meet them at their house, follow them to church, walk in with, help us get our kids checked in, then let us sit with them. Whew! That’s a church invite unlike any we’d ever experienced. Are ya’ll taking notes?!
So, here is what I have learned: Having my tribe in Memphis due to the longevity of friendships wasn’t my fault, just like not having a tribe here in Wichita because I was new wasn’t my fault either. Having a tribe, or not having one has nothing to do with the ability to BE a friend. Let’s end this tribe trend, tear down walls, and raise our families to leave space for welcoming friends. New and old.