August 18, 2019

Don't Bother Finding a "Mom Tribe"

“Somewhere between my firstborn’s conception and birth, it became clear that some kind of parenting plan needed to be put in place. Preferably, this “momifesto” would be hammered out and signed off on by all interested parties in advance of my husband and me doing any actual child rearing. The baby won’t care what you do, said my wisest mom friend. But, she warned, you really don’t want to get stuck socializing with a group of mothers who do things very differently from you. You’ll want to judge them, they’ll definitely judge you, and you’ll feel like a failure. For a more uplifting early parenting experience, she said, I would need to find my Mom People. And the faster the better.

In recent years, the concept of “mommy tribes” has taken hold. Some of these parent groups are not just meeting for coffee or baby and beer afternoons; they’re making their philosophy official on social media. Elle recently ran a piece on the success of a Californian group, called Unicorn Moms, that now has more than 35,000 members on Facebook and 56,000 on Instagram. Its founder, Maria Hunt, was shamed on a “judgy and mean” Facebook parenting group, so decided to set up her own, more nurturing and less judgmental, collective. Now, as well as the online stuff, Unicorn Moms has an annual festival, UniCon, complete with scantily-clad male dancers, inspirational guest speakers, and mother revellers wearing unicorn horns.

I’m certain if this kind of thing had been around six years ago when I was supposed to be tribe shopping, it would have prompted the same queasiness I’m feeling just writing about it now. It sounds Disney level saccharine — and utterly exhausting. I think I’d rather be judged online than have to make myself available to frolic in a field wearing headgear from my kids’ dress-up box.”

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