The Importance of a Tribe for Black Mothers
It is important for all women to be surrounded by a tribe. That tribe can be friends, family, or just a like-minded group of individuals dedicated to helping each other succeed. I don’t know how I would accomplish anything without my tribe. I am a working actress, model, comedian, and military reservist. I am also pursuing my Master’s degree and have my own business. In addition to all of that, I have a 17-month-old daughter, and getting the opportunity to exercise or take a work trip without having to worry about her wellbeing are small mercies I never thought I’d appreciate.
Before my baby, I would just get up and go. Now, I don’t have room for that kind of spontaneity in my life — I must plan everything out. When you are co-parenting and you need to quickly accomplish a task unrelated to taking care of your child, you don’t always have the same luxuries and flexibility as most two-parent households. So, having support nearby is super helpful.
A tribe isn’t just for helping with a child. A tribe is also beneficial when you need to bounce ideas off someone. They can provide advice regarding your career, business ideas, or whether you should pursue another degree. They also provide support when you are in an emotional rut and need a shoulder to lean on.
Greatness cannot be achieved alone; you need a team to help you get there. Having a tribe that has your back is invaluable.
You Can’t Do It All Alone
Why is it that we feel we have to be superwomen? It is literally unrealistic to be the best mom, most phenomenal at your career, super fit, and wealthy all at the same time. You can’t maintain that high level of output without burning out at some point. When a mother doesn’t have a village, there is a lot of pressure on her to be able to provide what her village is meant to provide. It’s difficult to manage so many priorities, and it can cause her to feel stressed and overwhelmed. There is also that feeling of guilt for not being able to spend free time with her child.
Delegating tasks helps with all these conflicts so much, although it may cost money you intended to spend elsewhere. Having a housekeeper come in to clean, or a food delivery here and there will save a lot of time. Please take advantage of outsourcing tasks and duties so that you have time to pour into yourself and your child. Having a tribe with members that specialize in different things can be advantageous. Maybe you have a friend who is a phenomenal chef and needs some guinea pigs to test a new recipe out on—it works for both parties involved!
As Black women, we are natural-born hard workers, overachievers, and go-getters. I find that we try to do it all because, at times, we have no one else to rely on. And when you become a mother, that is amplified. I had to let go of the mentality that I could do it all alone because, realistically, I can’t. Once I accepted that — while I am capable of accomplishing many things — I do need help, I became less frustrated and life became much easier. My mother and I tag-team duties when it comes to my daughter. She watches her while I go workout so that I can get my necessary rest and make sure I am the best I can be. My daughter’s father and I don’t have a set schedule, but we are flexible when one of us needs to leave town to take a trip and work. Both sets of grandparents are also readily available to assist. Relying on my tribe allows me to be better for both myself and my child.
Use the Help to Pour Into Yourself
Being a go-getter is time-consuming and energy-draining. It is important to pour energy back into yourself. Make sure that you get ample rest each night and set time aside to treat yourself. It may not be a shopping spree or a trip out of the country, depending on your budget, but there are many things that you can implement in your life to treat yourself. Involve your tribe to ensure that you can allocate the time to do so.
Here are a few ideas:
Make time for YOU
Being a mom is a 24/7 job. Implementing 15 minutes of uninterrupted time—whether it’s in the morning before the kids wake up, or at night when they go to sleep—can really work wonders! Sip your coffee, tea, water, or wine in peace. Journal, relax in a tub; it doesn’t matter. Just make sure you have no distractions. Personally, I try to get daily gym time in, at the very least an hour, and — while it is hard work — I never regret it. I am improving my body and getting some much-needed me-time. And when I come back to my daughter, I am happy, excited, and refreshed. Some examples of other ways to use that you-time are:
Whether it’s a facial or a facemask, doing small beauty treatments here and there can work wonders for you. Minimize your stress and pores by doing a quick face mask or a beauty treatment.
Do you have any hobbies? I love performing improv comedy, so I make sure that I squeeze some time in to attend an improv jam or a show with my comedy group. I also enjoy shopping and traveling, so I try to implement that in my life as well.
I am grateful that my tribe is available to allow me to do things that are important to me.
If you have something weighing heavy on your chest, get it out! Find someone in your tribe that you trust and talk it out. You’ll find that sometimes you feel better just by expressing your feelings, and they may have a different perspective that can provide a solution to the problem you’re dealing with.
Return The Favor
With so many people pouring into you, it is important that you reciprocate that energy. A village is only as good as the people in it, and you must remember that it doesn’t revolve solely around you. While your friend may not mind watching your kids or giving you feedback on your business ideas, it is important that you are just as eager and available to assist when they need to lean on you for support. A simple “thank you” goes a long way as well. Grandparents love their grandbabies, but they also need to feel appreciated.
I am so grateful for my tribe — my mother, my daughter’s father, his family, and my friends. I’m still working on expanding my community because I just know it will reap benefits for me and my daughter in the years to come.
Adita Yrizarry-Lang. It Takes a Village: A Single Mom’s Perspective on Making It All Happen
Beth Berry. In the absence of “the village”, mothers struggle most