As a new mother something I have encountered in abundance is an amazing array of mama-made businesses, communities and support networks. Mama's who earn a living, working extremely hard, whilst also being full time mothers. Mama's who have built businesses up from the ground, often inspired by becoming a mother, in order to provide for their families. Mama's who have created communities, starting out from a simple hashtag or opening up a forum on a website for mother's to connect. Support networks connecting mothers from all over the world, providing an online-family for those who need it.
Each Monday I want to use this space to help share and promote these businesses and communities. Businesses I have come across when shopping for my own daughter, communities which have held me up and helped me become the mother I want to be. To kick things off I'm handing things over to Paula from Punky Moms, a fantastic community of mothers from around the world, particularly the UK and America, which promotes supporting all mothers.
I became a member of Punky Moms over a decade ago when I lived in Florida. I was a step-mom to 2 young ones and not a single one of my friends at the time had any children. I was lost and desperate for advice on being a parent. I tried to talk to some of the other moms at the school, but not a single one reached out. Most were older than me and really wouldn’t even acknowledge that I was a real parent, even though the kids lived with me 24/7 and their birth mom was nowhere in sight.
I always knew that I wasn’t going to let parenthood change who I was, when I was a stepmom or when I eventually gave birth to a child of my own. I planned on still getting tattoos, dying my hair and going to concerts (and taking them with!).
I was asked to be a part owner in 2007 and it was great except Punky Moms was starting to become pretty quiet. Internet forums weren’t as popular anymore and a lot of people were spending most of their online time on Facebook. A few years later, I was divorced and not living with kids anymore, but I still stuck around because my friends had all become Punky Moms.
When I eventually remarried and became pregnant a few years later, there was a crossroads where Punky Moms was going to probably close down. We had about 10 active members on the forum, and a lot of the original member’s kids were becoming teenagers. These members felt like they were growing out of Punky Moms.
I just couldn’t let that happen! Here I was, finally pregnant and living in another country and desperate for the friendships and advice that I had received over the previous years. I just could not fathom closing down the site. It had always been this safe space on the internet. I wanted these old members to come back! I decided to take it all on, and rebrand Punky Moms completely.
With the help of a few OG members, we moved forward to shape Punky Moms into what it is at the present moment! Punky Moms had humble beginnings as a Yahoo! meetup group in Dallas, Texas back in 2002. The founder, Jessica was desperate to find moms that were more like her. We had kind of lost focus on that so I wanted to get back to the basics.
Our website, www.punkymoms.com, is updated several times a week with articles on parenting, music, feminism and DIY. Aside from our Punky Moms Facebook page, we gave in to Facebook and created a private group there, The Punky Mom Family, and various subgroups, including the UK group Punky Moms UK and our latest addition, Punky Dads. I can go into any one of our groups and parents are complaining and laughing and crying all at any given moment. They are having these real human emotions in a safe space and it is just beautiful.
After almost 15 years of being around, Punky Moms is still achieving the goal of making a community for alternative parents. We’ve become this ultimate mama gang. I’ve always been a riot grrrl at heart and so those feminist ideals I held onto as a teenager have really come out after becoming a mother, but even louder. Punky Moms is starting to be known as a place that parents can go to seek advice with no judgement. I kind of love that we are getting a reputation for that!
Our ethos has always been to not try to fit in this box someone decided was the right way to parent. In fact, we are the parents who have chosen to raise our families outside of the box. We are open to ideas and figuring out what works best for us.
One of our members in the UK subgroup last week just told me that she nearly cried because of how lovely it is to see so many women supporting each other regardless of choices. I know even for myself, moving and living in a foreign country was very alienating for me. I was the outsider again and now I feel pretty unstoppable with all these “Punky Mums” at my side.
To find out more about Punky Moms head over to www.punkymoms.com and be sure to check out the Punky Moms Instagram account, where motherhood is celebrated in true #PunkyMoms style. To check out all the Punky Moms sub-groups you can check out the full list here.
Huge thanks to Paula for sharing Punky Moms with us all and kicking off Mama-Made Monday's!
Have you found any online communities since becoming a mother?