Friday, September 3, 2004

Mama Revolution

Mama Revolution
Stacey Greenberg

Don't you know
They're talkin' bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
~Tracy Chapman

When I was on maternity leave with Satchel, I spent most days at home watching TLC (The Learning Channel). When he would nap, I’d get online and chat with my “Synchro” mamas (women who were pregnant at the same time as me) that I’d met at On Thursdays, if it wasn’t too hot or raining, I’d meet up with my two real life mama friends at the zoo. And on occasion, we’d go across the street and meet my friend and her daughter at the health food store for lunch.

This time around, I have had a real live place to go and hang out with like-minded mamas on a daily basis. Mothersville is a local retail store specializing in maternity and nursing needs that has a resource center/lounge area for mamas and a play area for children. I have extolled the virtues of Mothersville before, but I have truly come to appreciate it these past few weeks when I have really needed a place to go. Once the babymoon is over, new mamas really benefit by being around other mamas. I have been attending the breastfeeding support group on Mondays and the under one playgroup (a.k.a. the new mamas playgroup) on Wednesdays for over a month now. While the Internet continues to be a source of support for me, actually meeting women in person has been a whole new experience.

I usually go into Mothersville thinking I’ll stay for an hour or two and before I know it, it’s been five. Spending time there has allowed me to meet at least 30 new mamas over the past couple of months. I’ve even gotten to know a handful of them pretty well. I have been invited to join a local playgroup and have started an informal writer-mamas group. On days when I need to vent or cry, I know I can find a sympathetic ear at Mothersville. I’ve also been around to give others support. When a mama came in feeling really low, I was the first one to give her a much-needed hug. I’ve swapped horror stories, advice, recipes, and spent a good part of several days just laughing. As a group we’ve planned playdates, field trips, and everyday acts of rebellion. We are doing more than just “hanging out,” we are building community.

Mothersville is a great resource, but it costs money for it to exist. The retail portion of the business is what supports the community areas. Small, locally owned businesses like Mothersville need our support. When I spend money, I choose to spend it locally and support businesses that operate in an ethical manner. When I buy from Mothersville, I not only support the store, but all the work-at-home moms and women-owned businesses they buy from. Spending time and money at Mothersville allows me to be a part of a grassroots political movement focused on changing the face of our culture to make it more mama-and-child friendly. I hope that one day, stores like Mothersville will be the rule rather than the exception.

If your town doesn’t already have a resource like Mothersville, maybe you could a create similar space in your community by finding an independently-owned business such as a restaurant, coffee shop, bookstore, or children's boutique, and talk to the owner about hosting groups. Or you could rally some mamas you know and meet at a public space, such as the library or a park. If each mama you know asks one other mama, you could have a group in no time. Set a regular date and see what happens.

Once you get a group established, have everyone donate their old pregnancy and parenting books and start your own resource center somewhere. Host public events or post flyers to attract new members. Start a zine! Getting a group going may be a lot easier than you think. You might already have API (Attachment Parenting International) or LLL (La Leche League) groups in existence to use as a starting place.

Building a strong mama community for yourself and others is a great way to make a positive change in our crazy corporate dominated society. When I tell my husband I am going to Mothersville, he thinks I’m just out having fun (and I am), but I’m also working towards a revolution.

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