Since the birth of our first child, I have been categorized and labeled as a “hippy, crunchy, granola, alternative, free range, attachment” mama. I am that “weird” military spouse that everyone typically avoids until they need some advice from me. Over time, I have made an unintentional name for myself. “Ask Bradbury’s Wife” has become something people discuss amongst each other. I am good with this now, but it has taken a lot of time and self-love to get there.
Now as a mom to three, I feel confident in giving advice. Confident in my parenting practices and rather hippy lifestyle. I look forward to young moms asking me for advice. It brings me 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. Through the years, I have continued to put myself out there in many ways to meet people. Most of those avenues have been successful, but not in the way I thought.
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. Your list may include things like cloth diapering and natural birth. Or you may prefer to live a green, zero-waste, chemical-free life. Some of your activities may revolve around your faith or your love for the outdoors. The more people you meet, the more hobbies and interests you may discover you have as well.
It seems simple enough, right? Most parents have different facets of their personality that they enjoy equally, but not all at once. After listing interests, it’s time to start the search for a well-rounded tribe. You may join a weekly running group like Team RWB or Stroller Warriors. Book clubs are very popular, and a great place to combine your need for people and your love of reading. If you join a group that has a national following, it’s a great place to plug into when you move next.
What happens next is rather simple. When a group of women get together they tend to talk about kids, birth, schools, food. Boom. Natural minded mamas – just like those who love fitness or cooking – tend to levitate towards each other.
The Different Tribe Members
One of the biggest mistakes people make 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. The best tribes have several members.
The Creative: 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, and feeds her soul (and yours) with her love of reading and writing. The creative finds comfort in the tradition that is the military and always has time for your friendship.
The Careerist: This hardworking, career woman never says “no” to a new experience. She has a fabulous sense of humor and is fiercely loyal. She subscribes to some of the crunchy methods a natural mama does and accepts you for who you are.
The Athlete: This spouse takes their health seriously, and motivates others to reach their goals too. They work hard, grunting and groaning – with the occasional swear word mixed in, and laughs at themselves in the process.
The Opposite: Everyone needs someone who is the polar opposite of them in life. This friend will push you to think about your beliefs and open your mind to other ideas. She’s someone you want your children to grow up with, learning from them. She truly loves all of mankind and helps you to be a better person.
The Faith-Based Friend: For those with a strong faith, you’ll want an ally in the tribe. Someone who shares your religion, whether common or not. Someone who lifts you up and supports you no matter what.
None of these tribe members are able to meet all of your needs themselves. This is why the tribe exists. Their common interest is a relationship with you!
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. Many spouses have had wonderful success with Facebook groups that meet up at different times.
Stroller Warriors and Stroller Strides are wonderful resources for moms with kids in tow who really want to do group fitness. You do not have to look far to find a bible study or book club near an installation. For the crunchy mamas, your best bet of friendship is joining a local 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. Everything. Yes, this means you will attend a lot of “would you like to buy a candle?” events. But you should still go. 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 the 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. 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.
And I’ve learned it’s important for me to keep my door open to new friendships. We may not have anything in common, we may not end up liking each other, but you are always welcome. Now, go show the world what you have to offer!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on Embracing the Introverted Military Spouse
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