It’s been 48 hours since momward.com went live and we are still in a state of awe about the launch weekend we just had. The outpouring of love we have received from our closest friends and family (who you would hope to get that from, naturally), extended family who you stay in occasional contact with (but can’t be quite sure how or even if they’ll react to your endeavors), friends from multiple decades ago (and haven’t seen in decades), and complete strangers who serendipitously come out of the woodwork to support you (who you obviously need to get to know more), is rather tremendous. It’s the affirmation that what Erica and I have undertaken matters ; That it’s an important narrative to many people’s stories; That it’s relatable; And that it’s necessary .
The celebratory nature of the launch weekend we just experienced felt like the baby shower I never had; The baby shower no (step)mom ever gets when she inherits children who are not her blood (and frankly, this holds true for mothers who adopt too – think about it). So why aren’t we celebrating (step)motherhood more? Why are (step)moms greeted with words of concern and looks of sympathy when they tell their friends and family (heck, even a stranger they meet while networking at cocktail hour) that they’re dating, have married or will be marrying a man with children from a previous relationship? Why isn’t our news that we’re going to “have children” (shit, we don’t even get to prepare ourselves or others for this birth; it’s instant birth!) seen as favorably as a mother announcing she’s pregnant?
Well, ladies – I have felt how wonderful it is to be celebrated. And I believe each and every (step)mom deserves to have the baby shower they never got. So, I will give you the inside scoop on the three key factors that I believe contributed to Erica and I throwing our own damn surprise baby shower, and how you can do the same on a daily (who doesn’t like a party every day?) basis.
Factor 1: When Erica and I thought through the the timing of releasing momward.com to the public, the one thing we knew for certain was that we wanted to be together for it. She lives in Rhode Island, and I live in New York, yet we felt it was important enough to make it happen. We wanted to be together to a) share our excitement with each other, b) support each other, c) create a visible united front for our friends & family to witness (thank you social media), and d) it was a good excuse to see each other (and we take any/all excuses to see each other).
How to use this in your daily life: Make a (step)mom friend. While I know not everyone’s best friend is also (SO CONVENIENTLY) a fellow (step)mom, it’s important to cultivate (step)mom friends (at least one!). There are also several acceptable reasons to spend time with other (step)mommies (see above in Factor 1), should you ever find yourself in need of an excuse to get out of the house with a friend. (step)mom friends are there to listen when other friends/partner/family just don’t understand what you’re going through. This will happen. They’re there for advice on how to create a safe space for you and your partner with appropriate boundaries to protect you from uncomfortable (and highly avoidable) situations with an ex-partner. They’re there to sympathize with you when you’re dealing with a (step)child who seems to have recently consumed a bottle of haterade with your name on it and you simply don’t know how to deal, and they can offer up real, tangible suggestions to improve the situation. They’re there to make you laugh by sharing their dooms days with you so you realize maybe you don’t have it so bad. They can be awfully useful to bounce ideas off of before you try working through a (step)mom challenge with your partner. Why do you think mommybloggers were so successful? Because they’re surrounding themselves with like-people in like-scenarios. (step)moms, apply the same logic.
Factor 2: For two years now, Erica has been a member of a kickass non-profit known as The Lady Project, an organization that “connects, inspires and showcases awesome women doing amazing things.” It doesn’t get better than that. The Lady Project hosts an annual summit to bring women from across the country (and each of their 10+ chapters) together. Erica and I decided this was an important year for us to attend with the formation of our new entrepreneurial partnership. When our blog was nearing completing, we looked at the calendar and realized that the #ladyprojectsummit was strategically well placed and could easily coincide with the launch of momward.com. So, we decided to launch our blog the weekend of the #ladyprojectsummit so we would not only be inspired by other women, but could use it as a platform to broadcast our (step)mom mission to move #momward to the world (or at least approximately 300 of the east coast’s most badass, successful, women).
How to use this in your daily life: Find your tribe. Build a network of amazing, supportive women around you (aka: your tribe). Find your people. The women who wouldn’t shame a mom for choosing to go back to work after maternity leave; The women who wouldn’t judge you if you had a child out of wedlock; The women who wouldn’t correct you if you referred to your (step)daughters as your daughters by saying “oh, you mean your (step)daughters?” Those are your people. They don’t even have to be (step)moms, they just have to make you feel good about yourself, what you stand for, and celebrate what you’ve accomplished. They can even inspire you. An organized networking group is often a good way to find your tribe of like-minded individuals. It’s also good to communicate with women who are not in your immediate circle – it will remind you that there are even more amazing women in the universe that will support you simply because you are a woman and you are owning it (it referring to whateverthefuck you want to dominate).
Factor 3: We walked into the #ladyprojectsummit with a purpose: to share our blog and mission with every woman we met. We were confident. We were excited. We had something we wanted to share. We knew what we stood for and we knew how we wanted to communicate it.
How to use this in your daily life: Have your elevator pitch down. Pat. Confidence breeds confidence. Articulation breeds understanding. When you are confident about who you are and what you stand for, and can effectively communicate it, people question less, and nod their heads in agreement more. Women shouldn’t be ashamed of being a (step)mom. We shouldn’t feel we have to clarify that “those are my husband’s children” or that “I’m not their mom.” We need not apologize, sink in our chairs, or avert eye contact. We need to own our role and our introduction to others. Most moms beam with pride when they gush about their childrens’ latest talent show performance, and many thrive on the opportunity to tell someone about their children, or be identified as “mom.” Breaking news ladies: (step)moms can do all of that too (if you so choose and it aligns with who you are/want to be). If you’re not sure what your elevator pitch is, do this immediately: Write down five things you’re proud of. Are you fluent in seven languages? Do you know every player from the 1971 Yankees? Have you recently become addicted to crossfit? (You may be wondering if I do crossfit if you’ve read my post about Becoming an Ironman. But no, I’m not a crossfit addict). Do you love teaching your (step)kids how to bake your famous apple pie? Are you a soon-to-be CEO? 5 things you are proud of. Any 5 things. Write them down. Next, spend a minute thinking about why you are proud of them. Write that down too! Then, read them outloud in a mirror (may sound silly; not actually silly). You might like what you hear. You may even shed a tear after you read about what you’ve accomplished in your own words. Notice what makes you smile (or cry) the most. Pick those 2-3 items that generate a groundswell of emotion and develop a personal narrative (no more than 30 seconds long) as though you’re introducing yourself to someone. Does being a seriously badass (step)mom happen to be in that narrative – or maybe a line about how adaptable or loving your (step)children are? We think it will be… but even if it’s not, guess what: YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ASHAMED. Not every woman is defined by the same things. And that is a beautiful thing.
When you put these three factors together: fellow (step)moms, a female support mechanism, and your own personal glorious confidence, glowing about how you own it, you will soon see that others around you are excited for you, proud of you, and may even congratulate you – even hug you – to show their support of the choices you’ve made. When you can express your confidence and excitement about something, others will follow suit. Having and feeling the support of people around you is giving yourself the baby shower you never had.
As for presents?… more on that later.
Blog pairing: The Good Ole Girl
Disclaimer: All opinions are my own.