There were seven of us gathered around the long wood toddler-hight table while our little ones ate cranberry cornbread muffins and sipped mild peppermint tea. The lights were dimmed and a honeycomb candle flickered in the center of our budding conversation. The topic of circled around motherhood tribes and what that looked like for each of us in the current season of our lives. We chatted back and forth about what the word tribe meant on a personal level, and what kind support we were lacking as mothers in the world today.
Take a moment and ponder your current motherhood tribe? Is your cup overflowing, or sitting empty?
Each of us, though different in so many regards, opened up one by one and shared the same longing for physical togetherness and less isolation as we raised little ones at home. It’s true, there are many sprouting connections we now have through social media, but what about being the same space with someone who is breathing actual air from their lungs into a room? What about being up close in someone’s home, or others gathered in yours, with with ample opportunities to look one another in the eye and hear each other’s stories? What about bouncing each others crying babies, or lending a hand with supper, or crafting together?
What about a deeper level of connection, a decidedly more intimate one, where you are given the gift of doing life together outside the swirl and glaring screens that allow us to peer into each other’s lives and briefly and say hello? Each of us declared we wanted more of that, of real vulnerability, and frankly, needed more of it in our lives as mothers.
We showed up, gathered around the table and were together, which is the first step in fostering deeper connections in our lives. It’s far easy to stay tucked inside these days, to surround ourselves with virtual worlds and infinite sources of information to satisfy our curiosities and doldrums. I am both homebody and introvert, and I gather energy from time alone and at home. But while solitude refreshes me, meaningful connections are vitally important and essential in my life, and I when I find myself neglecting them I suffer inside. All of our lives are busy, but not too busy that we should cut out doing life with others in the flesh. The conversation I had with those mothers as we gathered that morning and spent several hours playing with our toddlers sparked something in me. It made me realize just how significant my tribe is in my life as a mom, and how paramount it is that I faithfully keep tending to it as a farmer would her crop, despite the stormy weather of distractions life keeps tossing my way.
What does this have to do with cinnamon salt dough ornaments? I made them with a friend, with a beautiful member of my small tribe. She and I are in the same season of motherhood, there are six little ones between the two of us us, and life flows like a river when we are together. There is an unspoken comfort that has taken rooted in our friendship, and because of that we don’t have expectations for one another apart from showing up. Her kids eat our snacks, and we eat theirs. We swap clothing, and when we have crappy days, we bring each other cinnamon rolls. She did that for me a few months ago when the internet was being cruel, and it was the sweetest. Friendships like this are life-giving, but don’t grow without a lot of sunlight and water. One must tend and pick the weeds before it turns into a barren landscape, something I am sadly recognizing in some of my past relationships where time and space has built a bridge between us, and now we are no longer close.
The morning we made these ornaments she piled her bubs in the car and headed over, extra cookie cutters and cinnamon in hand. We measured, poured, baked, rolled, mixed, and talked about our messy lives in between. Our conversation, of course, was interrupted more than a handful of times, but that’s expected with little ones. You just learn to roll with it and jump back in when you get the chance. For a few hours, we did life together while our kiddos played and got into mischief. And before we knew it, we had tripled the recipe and had dozens upon dozens of ornaments ready to plop in the oven! We cleaned up, washed up, and we went on with our days, each of us feeling connected and creative and a part of something bigger.
Cultivating a tribe, whether that be one person or twenty, is important no matter what season of life you are in, but it is essential if you are a mother who stays home. I personally would rather have a smaller tribe, but that’s personality. I have friends who are connectors, and they are always with other moms doing mom things. It’s inspiring to me, but that’s not the kind of motherhood I want or am capable of living. I am the one who gets to write the definition of my tribe, and so are you yours.
The point is, if you feel you are in need more physical support and connection as a mother right now, start by showing up in the lives of others who are life-giving, and who offer you the kind of comfort that only real togetherness and vulnerability can provide. Social connections are a beautiful thing, but they should not be the end all be all of our motherhood relationships. Being a mom is hard, we all know this, but the physical presence of others who “get it” and who are able to offer their time and energy through meaningful conneciton is a priceless gift.
Taking time to cultivate the tribe I have, and nurture it well, takes a shifting of priorities. It means I need to take stock and then do some weeding. If you too crave a physical fellowship in this season of your life with other mothers, know you are not alone. Know you can spark change and do something today that tends to that part of your thirsty life. Primal and raw, just like eating and sleeping, so too are the face to face interactions we need in our lives.
Below is our recipe for cinnamon salt dough ornaments, decorated with white puff paint so they last through the season. You can hang them on your tree or give them as gifts, either way, they are a wonderfully simple craft to do with a friend.
Cinnamon Salt Dough Ornaments:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup cinnamon
- white puff paint
First preheat your oven to 250 degrees and then mix all ingredients together in a large bowl (minus the puff paint). Once everything has come together and is dough-like in a ball, sprinkle extra cinnamon on your board or table, and roll it out with a rolling pin. You are looking for a thickness of 1/4 inch thick, but a little thinner works too. These ornaments will not rise much, if at all, so make them as thick as you’ll want them to be. Cut the ornaments out with seasonal cookie cutters and using a straw, add a hole in the top so you can string them once baked. Bake on a non-stick cookie sheet for 2-3 hours, or until they have completely dried. Decorate once completely cooled.
So, my friends, what are your thoughts about motherhood tribes? Do you have one? Is yours made up of many or few? And do you ever craft with other moms? It’s something I want to keep doing more of, as it fills up my cup in so many refreshing and nourishing ways.
Stephanie - Being the first if my friends with a little babe I long for the days when I won’t be the only one. Especially, seeing as building new connections is so dang hard in real life now!
Sarah - Thanks for taking the time to share this. I agree whole heartedly, as I am in a season of an empty cup. So may I ask how you came to know this friend? My struggle is figuring out what sources will help in finding like-minded friends. I’ve been in all kinds of “mom groups” but… still haven’t found my tribe. They need a mom-friend dating type app to figure out how and who to connect with! 🙂
Naomi - Amanda, this couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. Yesterday I shut down my personal social media pages after longing for what you’ve talked about for far too long, and realizing that trying to get it from strangers on a screen is not helping. It’s so comforting to know that I’m not alone in feeling the importance of mother tribes. So glad I’m still l following your lovely blog. Merry Christmas. xx
Kendra - Beautifully said, as usual. I’m also in an “empty cup” season and similar to you, am very much a homebody/introvert, and this seems to make it even harder to find my people. I long for those connections you describe and feel it is a noticeably missing piece in my life. Thank you for also for the recipe!
Amy - These are beautiful! I am definitely going to make them with my girls. Thanks for sharing Amanda.
Tanya - I am like you, where I long for that connection with other women in my life, but my introvertedness makes me crave solitude and alone time and time buried in a good book to feel rejuvenated, so my friends seem to fall by the wayside because there are only 24 hours and my family takes most of them. I probably seem like a horrible friend to them, but I also wish I wasn’t the only one of my group of girls to ever instigate a get-together. I would love to feel more needed, you know? Well, that’s where I’m at, but thank you for the reminder to see my friends more in real life! So needed these days.
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Nadia - I know it depends on the size of the cookie cutters and shapes you are taking, but approximately how many ornaments does this make? Could the recipe be cut in half, perhaps? I’m really just thinking about using the shape of my son’s hand in a circle. But I’d hate to use more cinnamon than that calls for.