When I had the idea to write this post, I had absolutely no knowledge about the concept of the “Tiger Mom” and its principle of strict, disciplinarian style parenting. Search for it on your fave search engine – after you’ve finished reading this obvs!
So this post has nothing to do with Amy Chua, or her 2011 book, or her views on parenting.
It has absolutely nothing to do with discipline, tough love or being strict.
It’s simply about survival.
Yes, fellow mamas, this post is all about how we survive motherhood.
You Are Not Alone
Despite what we might believe, we are not alone. Okay so being a mummy can sometimes feel pretty lonely. Being trapped under a feeding and/or sleeping baby for 20 hours a day can feel quite isolating.
When your other half (if you have one) is at work, when all your friends are at work, when your workmates are at work it, might seem like you’ve been banished to another world. A world where there is only you and baby.
But you’re not alone. Not really. It just takes courage to reach out to other mamas.
Facebook Can Be A Lifesaver
Social media isn’t full of trolls. It’s full of other mummies just like you and me. You’ve probably found this blog – and others – searching online for stuff to do with being a mum.
But did you know that there are mummy groups on Facebook? Search for “mummy” in your local area and you’re likely to find a group to join. It’s as simple as that. A mummy network all ready and waiting to welcome you right on your doorstep.
These Facebook groups are quite literally lifesaving. I’ve seen countless posts to do with baby- toddler- newmummy-health related issues.
I’ve seen lots and lots of cries for help. And brave mamas seeking out new mama friends.
Not one of these posts go unanswered. There are normally dozens and dozens of replies of other mummies who feel or have felt exactly the same. Have had the same anxieties. Have had the same fears. Who also feel alone.
It can be hard to put yourself out there. To admit that you’re finding being a mummy hard. But, do you know what, it is flippin hard! There’s no shame in that.
Being The Outsider
I see so many negative posts online about school mums. About feeling like an outsider. About not being part of the clique.
I knew probably one or two of the other mums when GinGin started school. I worked full time. GinGin went to before and after school club. She was there before her classmates and still at school long after they had gone home.
I never met the other mums. I couldn’t tell you any of the other kids in GinGin’s class.
So when I went on maternity leave just before Roo arrived, I was that outsider. That unknown mummy. That stranger rocking up every morning and again in the afternoon.
The other mummies and daddies and grannies and carers knew one another. They knew the other children. They were already friends. They had someone to talk to at the school gates. And not just “nice weather” type talk. Proper talking. Real conversations.
I was an outsider. I’m also quite shy. I don’t actually like talking to new people. That might be hard to believe if you’ve ever met me, because I’m also an extrovert. Strange huh?
Making small talk is not something I’m naturally good at. But I forced myself to make eye contact with these everyday strangers. And I forced myself to start meaningful conversations with them.
Turns out other mamas are not monsters. They’re not utter cows. They are nice. Welcoming. Friendly. Easy to talk to. It just takes a bit of courage to be that person who starts the conversation.
If you’ve noticed someone standing alone in the school playground, smile. Go say hello. Introduce them to the people you know. They might be happy enough standing alone. But they might be hoping someone shows them a little kindness. Be that person.
Other Mamas Are Your Tribe
Have you ever heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well someone didn’t just make that up because it sounded cute.
You cannot raise a child completely on your own. I mean technically you can. But why would you? We are social creatures. Our babies need to learn to be social too.
We also need to be able to rest, sleep, recharge, drink and eat. We get poorly. We have deadlines to meet. Being a mama is a full time job, even if you already have a full time job!
You might have read my post about the time I got so ill I collapsed in a car park (if not, you can read it here) I wouldn’t have got through it without the help of my mama-friends. People I barely knew 12 months ago.
We are the school-mummy tribe. The mama-tribe. And we have each other’s backs. No. Matter. What.
We don’t need to hide our struggles from one another. We don’t need to make up excuses with one another. We get it. We’ve been there. And we’re here to help if we can.
You might be reading this thinking “good for you, your group of school mums are actually nice people!” I don’t think our school-mama tribe is unique.
There’s nothing special about us – I mean we’re all special 🙂 – but we’ve discovered life is much easier if we tackle the school stuff together. We have a common interest. We’re going to be a part of each other’s lives for as long as our kids go to school together.
We don’t judge each other if one of us forgets it’s non-school uniform day, or we needed to bake a cake for yet another school fayre. We created a closed Facebook group and we use that to remind each other of all the stuff our dearest little angels neglected to tell us.
You might need to be the one to take a charge of creating your own school-mummy tribe. Until it is established. Then you can step back. The tribe will take care of itself. And you!
So What Does This Have To Do With Lions, Elephants and Tigers?
I said at the beginning of this post that it has nothing to do with being a “tiger mom.” I’m not going to tell you how to bring up your kids. That’s none of my business. And, quite frankly, I’m winging it most of the time anyway!
But I do think we should be more lion or elephant (or chimpanzee or dolphin for that matter) than tiger. Why?
Well. It’s simple. Tigers are solitary creatures. A tiger mum will raise her cubs by herself. She will purposefully hide away in a secluded spot. She will do it alone.
We’re not tigers. We’re not naturally solitary. The pressures of modern life are too demanding to try to mum like a tiger. In fact, historically, women would join with other women in networks or kinship groups to tackle the daily struggles of motherhood.
I’m not suggesting you look into getting a wet-nurse. But I am suggesting that you find or create a group of mamas. Mummy friends who support you. Who are there for you. Who have your back. Because you are there for them too.
Now over to you – have you found a tribe of mamas? Maybe they’re school mums. Or maybe it’s a group you’ve joined on Facebook. Or even a hub on Instagram.
Are you tempted to start your own tribe? I’d love to hear where you find support 🙂 xx