The Strange World of Mommy Groups
Bump Squad mama Katie on treasuring her mommy tribe during the ups and downs of pregnancy.
There's this strange thing that happens when you become a mom, especially if you're a first time mom. This unspoken rule that you've got to have a hang on everything. If you're the first mama-to-be in your circle of friends, you may often hear the non-malicious but still stinging epiphany of "wow look how big your stomach has grown!" Other moms come out of nowhere - friends, family, strangers that will stop you while you're perusing the aisles of any given store - and they are going to tell you "the right way" to do everything. From how you're "supposed to" handle labor room decisions and vaccinations, baby's first days home, whether you should co-sleep or use CIO (fancy talk for the cry it out method), store bought or home made baby food, what the latest baby expert says on Facebook... Personal decisions that you will have to make as a mom, and do whats best for your family whenever the time comes. Some people have the best intentions of sharing wisdom, others seem have this strange urge to compel you to commit and validate their ideas of whats best, or that you will do what worked for them with your own baby. Its gets to be both overwhelming and annoying.
And then there's the tangled and complicated world of online Mommy communities. Facebook Mommy Groups are famous for their archetype constructs of what "motherhood looks like"... You've got your sancti-mommies that will shame any poor soul who dares share their trials and are looking for a life saver. "Anyone out there have an idea how I can get Tommy to ....? I've tried everything." And the sancti-mommy will tell them how they're doing everything wrong and they can't imagine how you haven't totally ruined your child yet. You've got your "crunchy mamas" that are the embodiment of mother nature and know everything about what essential oils do, the benefits of baby wearing, lactivism, and more and will share their wisdom with you. You've got your working mamas that somehow find the time to actively participate in social media, while balancing a full time job and a beautiful home, family and work life balance. You've got your "Instagram Moms" that are always camera ready and flawless and have perfectly coiffed hair and glowing skin, and their kids are perfectly behaved and coordinated all the time, and their living room doesn't look like there are mini Tasmanian devils running around. (HOW DO THEY ALL DO IT?!?)
And then some of those mommies join forces, and bully the poor mom in the group who is just looking to relate. The mom in all of us who tried, and gave today her best, and her kids might be dirty from the dinner she slapped together and they played with more than they ate. The poor mom who is struggling with fertility and needs a shoulder or a prayer. The mom who is having marital issues and wants to know she's not the only one out there who isn't in "the mood" because she's exhausted at the end of the day. The fighter inside all of us, who puts her guard down and just wants another mom who tells her - You're going to be fine! The kids are going to be fine! Keep fighting the good fight!
So whats the point? Everything looks great on the surface, and its hard to distinguish whats real and authentic from whats not. Its difficult if not daunting to find a corner you can go to ask honest questions, share your mom-fails (or wins?!) without being judged, and just be yourself. After all this time, social media was meant to bring us together - right?!? Then, if you're truly lucky, out of nowhere you find this amazing, supportive, positive circle of women. Some might call it their "tribe", but I call it my Squad.
Somehow in the middle of my first trimester, I had a girlfriend of mine randomly tag and point me towards Earth Mama's Instagram page that announced they were searching for the latest members for their Bump Squad. I sent in my submission video - which was me in all of my glory - sitting on my bathroom floor, with zero makeup and my hair in a "mom bun" [side note: I've been rocking that bad boy since wayyyyy before kids. I'm just lucky its "the style" these days] I was hiding from the boys and pets, looking for enough quiet to record a 60 second video and hoping someone would just get me - and my big fat pregnancy brain. Ironically enough, I'm a professional model, actress and photographer by trade... so you would probably think that I would have looked casually and effortlessly put together, and I would have been sitting in front of my desk and the office behind me would have looked curated like something out of a HomeGoods instagram post. (Other side note: I loveeee me some HomeGoods.) But alas, no. That wouldn't have been real. When I clean our home, I'm lucky if it lasts 3.2 seconds - because - I'm blessed share a home with 2 precious boys, their 2 dogs, a cat and of course, my hubby. Life with boys, amiright?
Well someone over at Earth Mama saw my video, and not only chose me as part of the Squad, but they introduced me to this sisterhood of strong, brilliant, talented, real and amazing women. Everyone in there is supportive and kind, they share their ups and downs, and they all strive for better. There have been moments where we all share in the glory of pregnancy - nausea, heartburn, stretch marks, finding a deodorant that works, and pants that fit... and there have been some heartbreaks and losses along the way. Throughout it all, these women have been the definition of what you'd want in any support system. They've bared it all and, as a collective, we're all stronger and wiser for it. They freely share knowledge and humor, resources, and more. I couldn't have guessed what I was signing up for when I threw my name in the hat, and I can't thank Earth Mama and the Bump Squad enough for their generosity, kindness, and love. I'm constantly humbled by what this group brings to the table, and I'm well stocked in everything I could need to get me through this far my pregnancy.
I'm believe I'm the furthest along in our group, but I'm looking forward to watching our bumps grow and beautiful little babes to come. I feel like a seasoned vet some days (considering that my youngest is only 2 and a half) and other days I have questions or I read an article that I'll share and they're right there along with me to answer and give their take on it. Every mom deserves to find a circle like mine, and I'm sending my hopes out there into the universe that you have at least one great mama to lean on and share your journey with. Love, Light and Good Vibes ❤️