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The Nomad Mom Without a Tribe

Sister, I am with you. I, too, am a nomad. I suppose I started becoming a nomad before I knew that I was one. I grew up mostly in Pittsburgh, but we moved around several times throughout the city and then to Missouri, and back to Pittsburgh. I hated it. I swore that I would never do that if I ever had kids. I had big plans of buying a house in a small town and staying there until I died. Then, I solidified that notion by marrying someone in the military. It made complete sense for such a stern declaration. What can I say, I was 18 and in love.

The marriage didn’t last, but the lifestyle did and not for the reasons one might think. I continued my nomadic lifestyle because no one place felt like home. We didn’t move around a lot while I was a military spouse, but I had many friends come and go. I got used to saying goodbye, and so did the kids. We adjusted to not living near family and managing our lives around “swing shift” (3-11 or 4-12 for those that aren’t military). Eventually we learned how to effectively co-parent as divorced parents even when there were miles between us. Most of my big changes in life happened without family or friends nearby.

When it comes to having a tribe, I don’t really have one in the traditional sense. I don’t have a group of moms that get together for coffee, or orchestrate play dates on weekends. I had that when my older kids were preschoolers. The military moved my tribe and spread them out across the country and world. My very best friend on the planet is in Vegas. I haven’t seen her in nearly ten years, but when we talk it’s like no time has passed. We make plans to visit, but life happens and schedules change. I have good friends in Texas, Idaho, California, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Florida. Those are members of my tribe, but they aren’t here for the day to day.

We nomads love the adventure of moving to a new city. Learning the new city’s culture and quirks. We hopefully anticipate finding solid footing in these new places. The kids have adjusted and eventually get the itch to explore when you’ve settled in one place too long for their liking. You watch your kids become confident in meeting new people, and understanding of different lifestyles. You see them blossom into more compassionate human beings, because they see more than that small town echo chamber. They see that people can live differently and be happy. They adapt and absorb all while growing and changing into young adults.

So how do we nomads without a tribe get through the daily struggle? You rely heavily on your virtual tribe. You do phone check ins with your friends that are no longer within a short driving distance. You eat chocolate cake straight out of the pan with a bottle of wine and wish that your BFF was your next door neighbor and would offer to watch the kids while you had your well deserved breakdown. You hold your chin up and push through.

I guess technically I have a tribe, albeit spread across all creation, but they exist, though sometimes it seems only in my mind. We have moved four times in six years, and no place feels like home. I get close to that feeling when I’m in Mississippi, but it falls just short of feeling complete. People always say home is where you make it, but I haven’t found that saying to be true. I’m waiting for that click. The exhale that says this is where I’m supposed to be. For now we have decided to settle in North Carolina until the big kids are done with school, but in seven years we will likely put on our wandering shoes and keep looking for our home.

Are you a wanderer?


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