If you look at most mom blogs or social media feeds, you are bound to find posts praising the “mom tribe.” The “mom tribe” is portrayed as essential to surviving motherhood with your sanity (somewhat) intact. I am not here to disagree. In my almost three years of motherhood, I have come to realize just how valuable a “mom tribe” can be. I would be lost without the coffee dropoffs, encouraging group texts, and rainy afternoon playdates.
That said, I think there is a group that is just as important, and sometimes underappreciated, in the mom circle: the college friend “tribe.”
(Also, I’ve realized I’m old because I’m fairly certain I graduated from college before the term “tribe” was a thing.) Regardless, I was fortunate enough to meet most of my closest college friends during freshman year, so we’re now going on 16 years of friendship. We have certainly changed a lot since we were 18. Despite the challenges of distance, jobs, and the addition of boyfriends/spouses, our friendship has remained strong, and we are still there for one another in a way no one else can be.
You see, there is something about the college friend tribe that is irreplaceable: They knew you before you were Mom.
They remember the person you were before these little people were completely dependent on you. They know the passions and dreams you once had — and probably still have (buried somewhere beneath the diapers and sippy cups and endless piles of laundry). And in a role like motherhood, where you really can lose yourself, it can be nice to have these people who remind you that you are more than the keeper of snacks and bedtime routines.
They also remember when your little ones were just a dream you talked about in the dining hall one night as you imagined what the future held. So they love these little people fiercely, shower them with love, and help you to remember that even if your life doesn’t look exactly like you pictured it would, right now those toddlers running circles around the living room are your greatest passion and your dreams come true. And you get to do the same for them.
Now, of course there can be some overlap between the college friend tribe and the mom tribe, as many of us have added kids to the mix since graduation.
The late-night texts about milkshake runs off-campus have turned into 3 a.m. text conversations about swaddling, gas, and spit-up.
Our emails have morphed from consults about which professor to take for that upper-level philosophy requirement to the pros/cons of various baby monitors, breast pumps, and diaper bags.
Our girls’ weekends are fewer and require quite a bit more planning… with the occasional nursing baby and/or breast pump along for the ride.
And those friends who aren’t moms yet? They provide a valuable escape from a world where conversations always seem to find their way back to sleep schedules, potty training, or Daniel Tiger.
They understand when you rarely stay awake past 9 p.m. or can only talk during afternoon nap since your toddler started protesting phone calls.
They insist on coming to see you because they know it’s easier to travel solo than with a gaggle of small children in tow.
They listen to way too many stories about your kids but are also happy to share stories about their work or their latest travel and remind you that there is a world beyond your messy living room.
You dream of the day you can return the favor for the ones who want to be moms someday too.
Take a minute to think about your version of the college friend tribe. They might be high school friends, childhood neighbors, sorority sisters. Whoever it is, take time today to be grateful. And maybe send a quick text to thank them for the priceless gift of their friendship.