from little things big things grow

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The tribe

Yesterday I dressed Skye in a summer frock. She looked very sweet, a picture of mischief and blond wispy locks.

Someone commented on how sweet it was, and I went to say how it was a gift from a neighbour. In the ponderous way my mind works, I reflected on how Skye has received so many presents from neighbours, how well known she is, and finally,  that here in apartment blocks near the beach we have found our tribe.

Skye is known by neighbours in the two adjacent apartment blocks, and other neighbours from the street and the nearby nursing home. She has adopted them as family, beaming big smiles at them all, and reaching for hugs from her favourites. She pets their dogs with no fear.

Finding a tribe is something that has been pressed on me as a new parent. Maybe because I am a bit alternative and have post natal depression, and also its because I'm introverted and have moved to a new town. I tried at first, reaching out to attachment parenting groups and nursing mothers groups. When these didn't work out for various protests I tried a home visit counsellor and a psychiatrist. These were horrendous experiences, resulting in me feeling even more alone. Eventually I stopped trying. But I only became stronger in my resolve to follow my instincts.

In the past couple of weeks I've read a couple of articles about others finding tribes. One by a busy working mother, the other by a fellow mental health sufferer. When I read these my mind smiled gratefully over my own support systems and I challenged myself to look after those peeps in return.

Finally I made the realisation that the tribe I was seeking have gathered around me.

Strangers have made me feel so welcome and proud of the way I am raising Skye. To these strangers, I think that Skye and I also provide a service. A tribe is a two way thing.

There was the lady down the street who gave me a beautiful umbrella to keep on the day I took Skye for a walk in the carrier minutes before the rain came down. There is the couple downstairs who have showered her with outfits, because they don't have their own grandchildren. The elderly couple in the block who gave Skye a cuddly blanket, which she immediately took to, and was coined the magic sleeping voodoo blanket, or pinky for short. The couple from the retirement village who join Skye on her walk each morning and have adopted her as their own. The lady next door who comments on how much Skye has grown, keeping tabs on her progress..

I have always had a tribe. There is my family and friends. It's not hard to think of ways they are there for me too. My dad takes Skye for a walk everyday, and has instigated a lot of the community connections. My mum encouraged me to find my own rhythm, and led by example. My husband who knew when to hold me and took so much time off work to help me find myself again. My sisters, interstate, who ring and send messages of love and encouragement and find ways to make me laugh. And my dear friends who send emails or messages, which allow me to be introverted but still know they are looking out for me.

Yesterday was 'Are you ok? Day'. Amd although I have mastitis for the third time, I can say, yes I am ok. I hope you are too. And if you aren't, perhaps your tribe will come through for you.

Family pic by Debs Ivelja Photography

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