FOR THE LOVE OF COMMUNITY
I've always considered myself a joiner. From camp musicals to youth group to my college sorority to running groups - I've always sought out others with similar interests and shared experiences. I love the feeling that I'm a part of something and I love surrounding myself with people I can relate to. I even made a career out of it as a communal professional. When I was pregnant I read a baby book with this great intro:
"Welcome to the Sisterhood of Motherhood"
I was instantly hooked by this idea. Jared and I moved to the suburbs before having children which made us a minority. We had friends but lacked the level of community we were looking for. Would motherhood be the answer? Would I instantly be accepted into this sisterhood and find my next community? The answer to this is yes and no. As it turns out, mom communities can be a pretty powerful - as a tool for good and also for bad.
It will come to no surprise to my mom-readers that there is A LOT of judgement out there in the mom world. Someone once posted on a Facebook group that she was considering getting her baby circumcised and wanted to hear about other moms' experiences. I replied that I'm Jewish and explained our experience with the bris. I gave no judgement, nor did I try to convince or persuade the mom to go one way or another. The backlash I got from my reply was so mean-spirited, that I ended up deleting my comment. It can be tough out there, but I believe firmly in the positive power of online and in-person mom groups and so I continue to participate. I belong to about 15 mom groups on Facebook and a few in-person groups - everything from breastfeeding support to book clubs and I get something different from each one. As a working mom, I will admit that the online groups are easier to participate in and so I've been gravitating towards those.
I never expected to be so involved with these online groups. It all started when I learned I was pregnant and realized that I knew nothing. Jared and I decided that we weren't going to tell anyone so I turned to the internet for information and support. I was at first drawn to the community message boards on websites like BabyCenter. I was shocked to find tens of thousands of other moms all turning to the same place for support. It was incredible. It was through these message boards that I was invited to join a secret group on Facebook for moms due in August 2017. I joined the group immediately, along with several hundred other moms-to-be. With so many people in the group, I was shy to speak out, so I was excited when someone suggested an smaller offshoot of the group. We became the the Summer 2017 Mommas.
It's hard for me to articulate just how much I love this group and what the moms in it have meant to me over the past year and a half. There are 19 of us from all over the country (and one from Canada!) We range from first-time moms to 6-time moms. We have different religions, affiliations, backgrounds and opinions on parenting. And yet, it is one of the most supportive groups of women I have ever been a part of. We give our opinions with respect and kindness. We share in each other's successes and support each other during difficult times. We collectively kvell over our babies' milestones (and are only a little jealous when other babies are sleeping through the night). We support each other (and often enable each other) in our Amazon Prime addictions. It is shocking to me that I can feel so close to women that I have never met in-person. THIS is the power of community. It doesn't matter if it's in-person or virtual. The mom community has the potential be an incredible place.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing another mom community - MommyCon. An amazing convention that happens in 8 locations all around the country, MommyCon is an opportunity for moms to meet each other, learn from each other, and shop for all the latest mom gear. They create Facebook groups for each of the events and the NYC one is still buzzing with activity.
I know that I found most of my best baby/mom gear from recommendations of other moms (thank goodness for the Merlin sleep suit and little silicone feeders). I had the opportunity to try out many new products at MommyCon, I want to share some of it with you! Over the next few weeks, each of my posts will have a giveaway of something awesome that I saw at MommyCon. As a sneak preview - we'll have things from JuJuBe, b.box, Perfect Pear Wear, and more. Stay tuned for some great gifts.