bruised- The Mama Support Network

The Mamas got me through one of the hardest times I have had. With advice, support and emails with ideas and experience.

I am a part of a big Mom support network on Facebook. The group is full of women I would call my tribe. I know I can put the call out and get advice, help, commiseration, meals, support, hand me downs, a reality check and lots of strong opinions.

There is the safety of editing and being able to see your words in black and white before you hit enter- with that, typically, comes a more thoughtful response. But with that also comes anonymity. . . supposed anonymity. There is space between you and the person you are talking to, safety in a screen between you, and a whole lot more bravado in an online presence than an in-life one. And sometimes, that means we get hurt. I know this is a pretty big problem in the blogging world too. I have been lucky enough to only have had a handful of mean comments thrown my way, and I typically can get them deleted before they hardly hit the screen. But on Facebook it isn’t quite as simple.

Lately the words have been hitting me harder. I am not only a member of this group, I am one of the two creators of it. The group was born out of a genuine want and need for support- tangible real support from women in our town. But as it grows so does this group’s ability, knowledge and scope. This group is close to my heart and, maybe embarrassingly, really important to me. I am dedicated to not deleting content that I don’t want there if the sole reason is that I don’t agree with it. The point is for Moms, in any parenting style, to find informed support and ideas, tangible help and, often times, light hearted photos-memes-inspiration, etc.

This is a group that can DO stuff. Like, provide gifts for 25 families. Bring a huge group of PP Moms together to spread body love. Cover Moms in meals, clothes and childcare. This group does good.

But it also can be really hard to be a member when 1200 women means 1200 opinions. And it means, for me, moderating all those opinions. And, I fail often. I lean one way (duh) and it’s hard to remain impartial. I am also a really sensitive person and peoples words about how they feel about this group hit me hard “I only use it to find clients” or “I wouldn’t post there because I am scared of the responses” or ” I left it long ago because there is no support” . . . they are all valid feelings, have lots of truth to them, and are personal opinions (shared with the collective Facebook). And all of them have bruised me.

I know this group offers support. I know that Moms of every parenting variety have found it there. From Babywise or Weissbluth to Sears and Cohen there have been  Moms getting love, support, and answers. Even if it means wading through a debate. And I don’t think debate is wholly evil or that we should all just ‘leave well enough alone’ in parenting. I want people to challenge my choices, I want to defend them and learn more- I know I don’t make the best choices 100% of the time and I need that debate in order to be a better Mom. And to be a Mom who is willing to change. I think the biggest lesson I have learned in the past three years is that if I think I know it all and don’t need to change, I am doing my girls a disservice. I can always be doing better and I need the love, encouragement, gentle suggestions and accountability to make that happen.

I don’t have any pretty way to wrap this up. I didn’t plan to write this post, or about this group, at all. But I have  been feeling pretty bruised by some of the talk about it. For all of its debate, opinion, and “judgement” I think it is pretty damn successful. And I needed to process this, get it out there and feel it. And writing it out is how I do it.

I will say this, if anyone on it is using it solely for clients, or feels like they can’t find any measure of support there (be that giving it or receiving it)- then click to leave the group. One of the most beautiful things about this Support Network is that is has born many, many branch groups. There is a place for everyone on this huge internet, find it and be kind in it.

 

Comments

  1. You do a FANTASTIC job running that monster of a group! Thanks to you I’ve met other awesome mamas, learned so so SO much (and still ALWAYS learning) and given me a place to talk mom (ie: weird poop and vomit) and not get have people be totally grossed out or just not understand. I honestly don’t think you hear it enough, but you really have done a fantastic job and I know that the majority of us moms of us are incredibly thankful we have a place to be/speak/learn all things mommy! ♥

  2. I have to tell you, I am so, so glad to be a part of the network. It helped me find support, education, advice, and friendship in a new and unfamiliar town. Thank you so much for creating and moderating the group. I feel so blessed to have discovered it. <3
    Olivia Slama recently posted..Harvest Season.My Profile

  3. Thank you for writing this. I LOVE our mama’s page, I would be lost without it for a single day, and I have no idea how I made it through before the two of you created it ♥. Because of that group, I have instant reassurance that my two year old is just being two, and not even as exhaustingly as other two year olds! Whenever I am feeling exhausted, run down, and just finished, I see other mamas going through just as much, if not more, and I feel blessed to know all of you. There are so many mamas (and a maddy) that I can call friend because of the effort you put in every day. Thank you Autumn, and know that for every person that makes a negative comment, there are ten more singing your praises.

  4. Thank you so much for everything you do on the Mamas Network! You have given such an amazing gift to this town and it’s Mamas (and Maddy) and me personally with this group and all of the time and effort that you have put into making a supportive and open mind space for us. I don’t know how I would have made it through the last year of pregnancy complications, a birth that didn’t go as planned, my first baby and being in a town where I didn’t know other parents. It has helped me find friends, deal with scary situations, share triumphs that just don’t seem that great to people without small children, and take a deep breath because pretty much all of it is “normal.” I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of this network and want to wholeheartedly thank you! <3

  5. Autumn, I know that sometimes the things said on the network can really hurt you. That’s part of the sweetness that is you, the wholehearted way that you love and live. Your incredibly kind spirit wouldn’t be true to who you are if you weren’t stung by the negativity that people are capable of spewing about something you put your heart and soul into.

    I can honestly tell you that I do not think I would have been half as informed, half as prepared, or enjoying parenting half as much without this network I stumbled into. Working with you last year for the Christmas gift donations was really rewarding, as have been the subsequent experiences I’ve gotten the chance to be a part of, largely because of your leadership.

    Let the haters suck it. You keep doing what you’re doing. You’re incredible, and I am proud to call you my friend.

    <3
    Stephanie recently posted..(No) Self HateMy Profile

  6. Oh, ((hugs)) Mama! I’m sure you do an awesome job. I would be kicking people off for trying to glean clients off of a Mama support group, and I don’t understand why people don’t bother to leave places they aren’t finding help/joy from.

    I wish there was a group like this in my town. I would so be all over that.

  7. You are an inspiration. It takes a lot of courage to step from the idea stage into the making it happen stage and you did that. And Fawn is right that for every 1 negative there are 10 positives…that is just the world it seems. I’m glad you wrote it out to process and I think your last line pretty much says it all. Way to go Autie in co-creating such an amazing and supportive space.
    summer recently posted..Love’s RecoveryMy Profile

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