Kelle Hampton writes a lot about having a tribe or a net - a group of women on who you can forever rely, call at a moment's notice, spill your deepest secrets. For a while after I got married, I rolled my eyes when I read her musings on this topic. This isn't high school anymore; I no longer feel the need to define my friendships by who will unconditionally support me - I've realized I need a good swift kick in the rear more often than I need claps on the back.
Best rear-end-kicker: Mr. Oram
Maybe my reaction was that way because, when I moved to Naples, I made friends but no one that I'd call crying. My real reinforcements - my tribe - is scattered to the four corners. "No bigs," I thought "I'm married now! That's what my husband is for!"
My tribe is cooler than your tribe
Shae, Jen, Coll
wedding photo booth fun
But then Jen came for an extended visit to help with the baby. I was so excited when she came...and that she stayed.
I mean, let me put it this way: how was your first five months of motherhood? When did your husband have to go back to work? Did you have a good friend living with you, to help you with your baby whenever you needed? I did. It was unusual and awesome and humbling. I had never needed any friend so much before and never before had a friend so intimately been there to help. She helped me take my first postpartum shower, watched and offered support as Zuz & I figured out nursing, would take the baby in the morning so I could sleep, held her while I went to the bathroom, cooked, or just...sat.
She even came to Italy.
Beyond being an incredible blessing to me, she is Susannah's godmother - and rarely has a day or at least a week gone by when Zuzu does not see her. Zuzu has had the joy of having her godmother be an intimate part of her life: her first babysitter, a constant guest at our table, another person to love her and form her daily. I know I cannot be all things to my daughter and having Jen here to teach, guide, and love Zuzu along with Tom and I means I can rest easy - I don't have to be everything - there are other good strong women to whom she can turn and find council, love, Truth.
Auntie Jen is also teaching Zuzu how to navigate stairs. And how to walk.
Here we are, one whole year later. I'm so proud of who we chose to be Zuzu's godmother (and godfather, but this post is not about you, Fr. Joe!). I am happy every day that Zuzu has such a wonderful example in her life of a woman who is in love with Christ and committed to His teachings. It is a blessing, and a relief, to know that if there comes a time when she does not want to listen to me, she has another voice to speak for Truth, another set of arms that will always welcome her, another woman to mother her.
My journey in becoming a mom would not have been as joyful without her, and I know Zuzu would have missed out on so much love. I am grateful to have a friend who is so willing to pour herself out for my family, for my daughter, for me. This tribe, this small but loyal net, is helping me be a better woman - a difficult and thankless task.
I don't tell you enough, Jenny Jen Jen, but I'm so grateful. I love you so much. Even if you leave tomorrow, I'll always be grateful for this incredible year.