What does Tribe mean to me? By Ashley Johnson

What does Tribe mean to me? By Ashley Johnson

 What does Tribe mean to me?

I became a mother at 25 years old, I was the first of my close friends to have a baby.  Some of my husband’s friend’s wife’s had babies, they all seemed to have it together with their schedules, meal planning, budgeting and fitness.  I remember anticipating motherhood with excitement and dreaming of how amazing it would be, my pregnancy would go without a hitch and my belly would be perfectly round…I certainly wouldn’t gain any other weight.  I would wear my baby all day long only stopping to lift my shirt to nurse.  Dinner would be on the table every night and that is of course after I attended baby groups all day and had the house clean.  Boy was I in for a shocker!

I gained 75 pounds, I didn’t recognize my body at all, once I had my sweet baby boy home I experienced next level anxiety (though I didn’t know what that was at the time).  I was now responsible for this little human being 365 days a year 24 hours a day and there were no sick days! Breastfeeding? Well it certainly didn’t go as planned.  I struggled immensely with what I now know I was suffering with D-MER (Dysphoric Milk Ejection).  I couldn’t understand why it was SO hard and where these panic feelings were coming from.  I wrangled through my first year as a mother, not ever asking for help as that would signify I was weak and couldn’t do it on my own.  Just before my first son’s birthday, I learned that I was pregnant again.  I was terrified and my body experienced all kinds of new sensations.  I knew I needed to set up support before this little human entered earth side.

The power of Vulnerability!

It wasn’t until I got REAL with my friends (my husband’s friends actually became some of my best friends and it turns out…they didn’t have it together either!) that I began to build my tribe.  My tribe is the people I can be vulnerable with and not worry that I will be judged.  They know my deepest darkest secrets and they love me through it.  When I am working too much (which is what I do when life gets hard) they call me on it.  When I feel sick, they talk me through it to discover it is a panic attack and not the stomach flu, then we deal with the panic attack.  They sit with me in the yuck.

Love, Security and Community

My tribe Loves on my children, they come when called at 9:00 p.m. because our youngest is sick or neither my husband or myself can calm our infant son.  I know I can count on them just as they can count on me.  My tribe consists of what I call “my people” they are my best friend since high school, my neighbours, friends I have made as an adult, my business partners, my husband, my mom, my in-laws and some close family. I have the privilege of supporting individuals with developmental disabilities both in and out of my home; these individuals have become a part of my tribe.  As much as I am there to support them, they also support me in an organic way.

These key people support my career and my vision to support all families.  When I get called away to a birth at 2am, my neighbours will offer childcare to give my husband a reprieve or a meal to feed my family, my mom will come over and mother my family. My mom mothers the mother.  My tribe doesn’t get offended when I cancel last minute because babies don’t operate on a clock.  When I feel I haven’t given a family all I’ve got, my tribe assures me that I indeed did.  When I’m feeling disconnected, my husband arranges childcare and takes me on a date.  He holds our family together while I am away.  This is how my tribe takes care of me.  It is just as important to me to make sure my tribe has what they need, who they need and when they need it.  When we feel supported, loved and cared for it only makes sense that we all succeed.



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