We talk a lot about the village and mommy tribe on my blog. They are discussed at length because of how extremely essential both are to my well being, and I would argue that most moms can empathize with that. Attempting to do this whole “mom thing” alone can be incredibly lonely and more difficult than it needs to be. Of all the necessities I could name that should top the new mom’s must-have list, a support system ranks highest. Regular readers will know from previous blogs that my mommy tribe is strong! I have emotionally invested much in these women who lift me up and encourage me during rough moments, and they, in turn, do the same for me. We answer each other’s hard questions, share embarrassing stories and laugh at unbelievable anecdotes. We’re each others’ backbone, and there’s no getting around it.

The events of the past year have opened my eyes to a few things I haven’t previously spoken about. I realized that my village wasn’t limited to just these awesome super moms; it included men, too–men who deserved to be recognized for all that they bring to my life.

You see, many of my mommy friends are married, and it wasn’t uncommon for us all to go out on group dates or even to meet for play dates when I was coupled. I grew to adopt their husbands as family, and we all spent lots of time together doing the kinds of things you do when you have young children and limited time due to adult responsibilities. Some days, those times feel like a very distant memory. Entering into a new phase of my life as a single woman has caused a shift in quite a few other areas as well. I’ve always been pretty independent and headstrong, whether in a relationship or not; but I never realized what the absence of a male figure would truly mean in the lives of my two young boys. Don’t get me wrong, their father is still very much a part of their lives and present. That is what divorce is, right? For the most part, things are the same. We have our typical busy schedules, full of my work and their enrichment and play activities. But every now and then something happens that reminds me of the way this change could be seen from their perspectives.

We go to the park with our friends, and I watch as my mommy friend’s husband crouches to catch Kensi as he exits the slide. On another day, a different friend and her husband meet my family and me at the pool for a swim session. They have girls, and my sometimes rough-and-tough boys are a welcome change for the man in their house. I see her and her hubby playing with my oldest as he attempts a wobbly dive into the pool. As they splash about, playfully wrestling while the girls and I lounge a few feet away on the other end of the pool, my heart swells. I’m instantly filled with gratitude for these men who step in, in situations where it could be easy for my boys to miss that kind of interaction. My sons play differently (more forcibly, perhaps?) with males than they do with me. It is as if they have an instinct that tells them what mommy can handle versus what a man in the same instance could.

I’m able to play and wrestle with my kids. We dance and run and are extremely active with one another. But this isn’t really about ability. It’s about inclusion. It’s about involvement. It’s about making sure that in any situation those two precious souls feel welcomed and embraced. These men, my adopted family, have stepped right in without being asked. They’ve loved my boys and treated them with such kindness, and I know my sons’ lives are only better for it. My tribe has doubled during this new phase of life.

Just when you think you have everything you need and all the love your heart can hold, life surprises you. Support is invaluable, and my cup runneth over. To the men of my village, my Dad Tribe: I love and appreciate you. Thank you for loving my boys. Thank you for never forgetting them, and for being additional male role models in their lives. And to their wives, my sisters, thank you for being the cornerstone of my village. Our collective foundation is strong and amazingly well built.

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