Friday, May 17, 2024

Losing your tribe of fellow parents once your kids grow up

If you have a child between the ages of, say, 5 and 17, and that child is active in some sort of group activity like a sport or music or theatre or whatever it might be, there is a good chance you have a parental tribe.

By that I mean a group of people whose kid/kids is/are involved in the same activity as your kid. You see them at ball games or concerts. You drive each other's offspring to practices, tournaments, rehearsals, etc. You may have an active group text chat or even a Facebook page where you communicate.

You sit bundled up in all kinds of weather (if your shared activity is outdoor-focused) and cheer on your team as one.

You are brought together by pleasant circumstances and quickly develop a close bond.

Then your child either walks away from that sport or activity, or else your kids age out of it together, and suddenly you don't see those people anymore unless you make a real effort to keep the relationship going.

There always seems to be something that gets in the way of that, of course. We're all busy. You still run across each other at community events or graduation parties, and you enjoy catching up, but it's never quite the same again.

Our kids were active in a range of sports and musical activities, so we ended up with multiple parental tribes. In some cases these tribes were separated by the distance of many years. We had one group of people we hung out with when our oldest, Elissa, was in school, and a distinctly different set of people we ended up seeing all the time with our youngest, Jack, more than a decade later.

While many of the Elissa-era parents were enjoying empty nests, we were still doing school field trips, plays, and track meets.

I miss the old group. And now, with Jack having graduated, I miss the new one, too.

What I'm saying, I guess, if that if you're currently in the chaos of having school-aged children, you should recognize and enjoy the connections forged with other parents  people with whom you may not otherwise get the opportunity to hang around.

These connections are fleeting, but they are valuable. They flame out as quickly as they spring up, but they are memorable.

Embrace your tribe. You only have them for a relatively small portion of your life before everyone moves on.

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