In this day and age, to quote a very thoughtful friend, "We have lost tribe." As she sadly said it out loud, she was reflecting on a time when communities were tightly knit. When families lived together for generations, when neighbors were families and friends with shared histories, and when people were so deeply interconnected that a child knew any adult on the block (and possibly the town) would take care of him or her.
Prior to "the great panic of 2009" and the search for answers that ensued, I was very independent. I enjoyed my neighbors but didn't "need" them like I do today. Independence is a deeply held value in America, but like all deeply held values it can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes you must let go of a value to see its dark side. For me, it took my daughter's medical situation and the intense time and cooking requirements of SCD / GAPS to let go of my independence.
This diet brought me to my knees. Actually, it brought me to my first temper tantrum since I was about fifteen years old. (That was about day five of intro in case anyone is wondering what to expect). But I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and kept on going. That August (2010) was a major triumph - ZiZi began talking in complete sentences and short paragraphs. But during that first couple of months the daily grind began to wear on me.
Little did I know that about 4 blocks away there was an amazing mom going through much the same situation. Her oldest child had a milk allergy and she was pregnant with number three. Our kids were roughly the same ages and so we started getting together once a week for a playdate where we would ask questions and try not to let each other know *quite* how crazy it was at our homes. But over time the walls came down and now we are very comfortable admitting just how funny and insane things can be!
So began "The Tribe."
Before we started this journey a good friend of many years was over for lunch and observed the feeding difficulties we had with ZiZi. She ate very little and would not talk. My friend had not realized what was going on, and the degree to which it was going on, until that lunch. She was back a few weeks after we started the diet and was really impressed with Zi's progress. She began to dabble in the diet to help her son with his impulsive behavior. She embraced the full diet the following summer (2011) but she is definitely an original card carrying member of "The Tribe."
Early into our adventure came Chef Steve, almost exactly a year ago today. He has helped each of us in our kitchens and been a part of the healing journey. Turns out his lovely girlfriend had a boss with a daughter with autism. The little girl was on a gluten-free diet but the results were not nearly the home run her mother hoped for. So she too eventually joined our tribe.
Then another girlfriend whose second child had a lot of similarities to my two girls, health-wise, began to explore the diet for her family. She was pregnant with her third and our local midwife mentioned this diet to her. She also is an official Tribal Mama!
Then came a friend whose son was in class with my oldest daughter. She was also pregnant with number three (same midwife - Richmond is a big city but a small town!). Her second child had eczema and she had been trying various solutions and then one day she called and said she had done more research and was going to give our crazy diet a trial run.
Then came a woman we took yoga with whose daughter had tremendous allergies. Then another friend of friends who had another little girl with autism. Who will be next, we never know. But any mama willing to do this level of work for herself or a child will most assuredly be welcomed into our group with loving arms. Fathers would be welcome too, but they seem a little reluctant to give up the beer!
So the daily grind continues to wear us down, each at a different time. Nowadays we pick each other up, dust each other off, and make jokes about strange bodily functions. The discomfort of swimming against the tide is bearable when there are others swimming with you.
There are people all around us going through much our same situation in their daily lives. Frequently the same solution will help us all. But it is only when you open up and tell someone what is going on that the similarities will be found and wisdom can be shared. So here is to sharing the wisdom. If you have not yet found your tribe you are welcome to join ours!