By Katy Blevins
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Sprout's first official Mom-Bassador, Alyssa Milano. As Sprout celebrates their 10 year anniversary with a fresh, new brand, Alyssa will be on hand to support and encourage families to stay playful, practice kindness and celebrate diversity.
As she candidly chatted about all things motherhood, a powerful passion emerged that challenged society to reconsider the environment we've created for today's moms. I asked Alyssa what her message was for Sprout moms tuning in with their kids and how she felt society should adjust to provide a better support system for working moms. Her answer, which referenced respect for mothers like Felicity Huffman and others she has learned from, really resonated with me and aligned with the Modern Femme Movement in a way I hadn't considered before.
Motherhood of Yesteryear
We've all heard the simple saying "It takes a village." Stemming from the old African proverb, "It takes a whole village to raise a child," this phrase was popularly coined in reference to busy moms needing all hands on deck to navigate the chaos of child-rearing. What does this old proverb actually mean?
We can all agree that motherhood is incredibly rewarding and we wouldn't trade it for the world, but we'd be lying if we didn't admit that it's often more terrifying, wrought with worry and confusion, than not. In the past, new mothers were surrounded by generations of support, guided into their new role with love and careful training every step of the way. The whole village contributed to raising the children, fostering new mothers with wisdom and knowledge directly from those mothers who had gone before them. Families grew together, generations flourished and the tight knit communities cared for everyone in their midst, young and old, as a collective unit. Everyone contributed for the greater good and no man was left unto themselves to survive.
The status quo of today's nuclear family has made motherhood a much more isolated journey. Even with the luxury of technology and seemingly endless information, new mothers often feel ill-equipped to raise their children, struggling to learn as they go, adjusting their methods and mannerisms based on their unique circumstances and more than a little trial by fire. Independence is vital and celebrated for women today, but did we somehow toss out the baby with the bathwater?
What happened to the village mentality? Have we polarized women by clamoring for things like more reality TV, which often encourages and champions women being horribly brutal to each other? Healthy competition and "all in good fun" TV has turned into vicious cycles of violence, manipulation and a public dissolution of moral and ethical boundaries. Is this what we want for our women? For our mothers? For our children?
The internet presented us with a unique opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals for support and education. But have we seized the opportunity to recreate the villages of yesteryear? Or are we settling into opposing clans that lack empathy and respect for different ways of life? Battles are waged across the internet: stay-at-home moms vs. working moms, breastfeeding moms vs. formula moms, circumcised vs. uncircumcised, cry-it-out vs. bed-sharing. Throwing stones in our glass houses, we've entrenched ourselves in our isolation and opinions. Every mom for herself.
What's the competition? Where's the trophy? What is actually gained when we battle other moms to make our personal case for parenting?
The Mom Village
As I thought about my conversation with Alyssa Milano, I realized -- This is exactly what The Modern Femme Movement is about. Working moms need a village. All moms need community, support, and comfort knowing that perfection isn't a requirement. Just do the very best that you can, and when your best falls short once in awhile, you can rest knowing another mom will be there to help pick you up and let you know that you're doing a great job.
It's time to come together as a community to welcome back the village mentality. Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, work or stay home, eat vegan or fast food, adopted or water birth -- we're all moms. We need to collectively release the pressure to perform and choose kindness over judgement. We all have children that we love more than life itself. That is our bond.
Katy Blevins is co-founder of The Modern Femme Movement, a community platform redefining success on a global scale by equipping female entrepreneurs with the tools to discover a meaningful life that is both professionally adventurous and fully present at home. Katy and her long-time business partner, Somer Chambley, work closely with small business owners from all walks of life, via their sister company, The Hampton Roads Creative, to help restore their energy, focus and strategy in the social media arena by clearly defining their purpose and unique go-to-market voice. Katy is a working mom to twin toddlers, so is no stranger to the crazy that is developing a successful business while also maintaining some semblance of order at home. You can follow her tips and tricks to a more manageable life on her personal blog, Chaos & Kiddos. Catch up with her on Twitter @chaosandkiddos.