On Being “Non-Traditional”
Since the birth of our first child, I have been categorized and labeled at “hippy, crunchy, granola, alternative, free range, attachment” mama. I am that “weird” military spouse that everyone typically avoids until they need me in the form of advice. Over time, I have made an unintentional name for myself as “Ask Bradbury’s Wife” has become something people discuss amongst each other. I am perfectly ok with this. It has taken a lot of time and a lot of self-love practice.
Now on my third child, I feel confident in my advice giving. Confident in my parenting practices and rather hippy lifestyle. I now look forward to young moms seeking me out for advice. It brings me a lot of joy to help them recognize their situation as “normal” and not the end of the world. With that said, finding like-minded mom friends has been a struggle, but I have continued to put myself out there through numerous avenues to meet people. Most of those avenues have been successful, but not because they are all like-minded moms.
Fueling the Different Facets of Your Personality
As “self-help” as it sounds, making a list of your passions is a good place to start. My first list looked something like this;
- Natural Birth/Homebirth
- Breastfeeding/Cloth Diapering
- Natural Living/Essential Oils/Chemical Free Home
- Home Schooling/World Schooling
- Nature/Forest School/Hiking
- Non-traditional faith. We are Baha’i.
- Homemaking Goddess
- Baking/healthy families
- Career identity outside of motherhood
- Massive sense of rather inappropriate humor
It seems simple enough, right? Most of us have different facets of our personality that we enjoy equally, but not all at once. From this step, I begin my search for a well-rounded tribe. I joined a local Nature Homeschooling group that meets weekly to hike and do nature crafts. I went to a book club, which you can find anywhere in the world for any genre imaginable (a great place to start if you love reading). While stationed in California I learned to love running by joining Stoller Warriors. Therefore, when we PCS-ed to North Carolina the first thing I did was join that Stroller Warriors chapter. Big Surprise- I didn’t like the North Carolina chapter, but I had to try it to find out.
What happened next was rather simple. When a group of women get together they tend to talk about kids, birth, schools, food. Boom. Natural minded mamas tend to levitate towards each other. I am certain that this is the case for most genres of moms.
The Different Tribe Members
One of the biggest mistakes that I see young spouses doing is putting all of their eggs in one basket. Expecting ONE person to be their BEST FRIEND FOREVER. Expecting ONE person to be passionate about everything that they are. This is not a one person job. Tribes typically consist of numerous people. For visual purposes I will describe my tribe (names changed);
Anna: Feeds my mama soul with her love of reading and writing. She is a domestic diva that makes me a better mother, wife, homemaker. She homeschools her kids. Loves good food. Finds comfort in the tradition that is the Marine Corps and always has time for our friendship.
Bethany: Hardworking career woman that never says “no” to a new experience. Fabulous sense of humor and loyalty. Semi-crunchy. Views my hardcore crunchiness as a personality quirk that she adores. I feel accepted by her entirely.
Chris: My foul-mouthed workout buddy. She takes her health very seriously and helps motivate me to reach my own goals. She is not a runner at all but understands why I am. We can laugh forever together.
Debbie: My go-getter, hardcore Liberal Lesbian friend. She embodies the diversity that I try to instill in my children. Truly loves all of mankind and helps me be a better person. She finds my need for religion amusing but doesn’t judge me for it. She is the first person to tell me she is proud of me.
Erin: My friend found through faith. We share a religion that is very uncommon on Marine Corps bases and then discovered, through that connection, that we were both very crunchy, similarly spiritual mothers.
NONE of the women above meet all of my emotional needs as an individual. This is why the tribe exists. Their common interest is ME!
Avenues for Meeting People
There is a stereotyping that occurs when people meet others online. Fear not, a lot of those online groups that meet occasionally are full of regular people. I have had wonderful success with Facebook groups that meet up at different times. I have danced with strangers and discussed books, mothering, and babywearing with people I have met through meetup.com.
Stroller Warriors and Stroller Strides are wonderful resources for moms with kids in tow that really want to do group fitness. You do not have to look far to find a bible study or book club they are in abundance. For my crunchy mamas, your best bet of friendship is joining a babywearing group or attending events during breastfeeding week.
For those of you saying “I am not very outgoing.” There is a simple, yet potentially anxiety-inducing answer; simply rsvp “YES” to everything you are invited to. I mean it, everything. Yes, this means you will attend a lot of pyramid sale in-home gatherings. You should go because you know what? When they are finished you will get time to get to know each other better and you will forever go down in their books as “the friend that showed up.” A lot of relationships develop from that sense of loyalty that can be earned just by showing up and eating the food they provide.
Get out there and be raw without being rude. People respond well to honesty, especially in a military lifestyle like most of us lead. This life is difficult. It takes a special kind of person to thrive in this type of environment. The vulnerability is difficult, but it pays off when it comes to building your tribe. For what it is worth, my door is always open to new friendships. I cannot guarantee that we will love each other, or that we will have anything in common, but you are always welcome. Go show the world what you have to offer.