“Find your tribe.” That’s what my friends who had ventured into parenthood ahead of me (alas, all of whom lived far away) told me in the months before my daughter arrived. They warned me that I would need parent friends, ideally those with children close in age to my own who could share resources, offer support, and sometimes just commiserate.
Like much of the advice I was given as a first-time parent, I was resistant to it at first. I had a great group of friends. I didn’t need new friends. And besides, where exactly was I going to find these new friends? Should I just hang a shingle out advertising a need for parent friends? Post on Craigslist? Join some sort of mom’s “dating” service?
Obviously these ideas were ludicrous, but the ones my friends offered didn’t seem much better. They suggested that I go to story time at the library and the neighborhood playground. They told me about playgroups that you could sign up for online simply by entering your zip code and child’s birthdate. Basically, as I understood it, I was supposed to stalk other parents at child-friendly locales or show up at a strange place to meet strange people because our zip codes and children’s birthdates were compatible—all things that would have been frowned upon in my pre-child life.
In some ways, the parenthood stage is like the college stage. It’s plenty easy to meet people. In college, it was: “You go here. I go here. Great. Let’s hang out.” In parenthood, it’s: “You have kids. I have kids. Great. Let’s hang out.” But the big difference is that, unlike a college student, I don’t have copious amounts of free time. Whereas in college it wasn’t a big deal to spend hours hanging out with someone it turned out I didn’t really have much in common with and might not even really like that much, as a parent, I simply don’t have time for that.
As eager as I became to find parent friends after my daughter arrived (and that sense of isolation that every new parent feels set in), I was still reluctant to become friends with people just because they had kids. I wanted to become friends with people with whom I had shared interests and values, people who would challenge me in positive ways, people who I would have wanted to be friends with regardless of their parent status. Although “mother” is now a critical part of my identity, it is not my entire identity.
All of which is why nido has been such a wonderful find for me. Beyond a place for me to work with my daughter learning and growing nearby, it’s a place to connect. It is not just a co-working space, but a community. Though nido’s members work in a wide-range of fields and come from diverse backgrounds and have a host of different interests, we share the desire to pursue fulfilling careers outside the traditional work structure so that we may better embrace the family life we want. We share a commitment to finding balance in a world that does its best to knock us off-balance. We share a belief in embracing our full selves, in having identities that aren’t summed up in just one word. In short, nido is a place where members of my tribe gather.