Connected, powerful 21st-century moms


Below is an excerpt of an article that appeared on by Melissa Schorr. We encourage you to read the full piece here. IN JULY 2010, Elizabeth Gomez, a mother of three from Medford, had just finished her workout at Woburn’s North Suburban YMCA and went to pick up her kids from the day-care room. When she sat down and started nursing her 3-month-old son, Christian, two day-care workers approached Gomez and told her she was in violation of the “no food” policy. Incredulous, irate, she returned home, determined to spread the word to her fellow moms — and find out if what had happened was, as she suspected, illegal under the state’s newly passed breast-feeding law.

After a frustrating call to YMCA management, Gomez posted a description of the incident on several local parenting listservs. And they told two friends. And they told two friends. And so on and so on. The story ultimately rippled out to moms all over the Boston area, triggering widespread outrage. Gomez recalls hearing that “so many people started to call them that their phone lines were jammed.” By the end of the week, the YMCA reversed course, disciplining the instigating employee and saying it would retrain its 1,500 staff members across Boston on the issue. “If it weren’t for local online groups,” says Gomez, “this incident would have not have received any attention or response.”

Chalk up another victory to the power of the mom network.

A generation ago, a new mom up all night with a screaming newborn had few places to turn: a tattered copy of Dr. Spock; an apologetic call to her pediatrician’s answering service; a desperate one to her own mother. Today, the new mom can flip open her laptop and solicit instantaneous opinions from others in the trenches, either on anonymous chat boards, like YouBeMom or UrbanBaby, or from her “intimate’’ circle of 350 Facebook friends. When she’s looking for a baby sitter, a Mama & Me class, a gluten-free bakery, she taps her local moms’ listserv. When she loves a product, she posts it on Pinterest. When it fails or frustrates her, she tweets, YouTubes, blogs all about it. And whatever she has to say, her fellow moms are listening.

“This need to connect, it’s a very palpable thing,” says Christine Koh, who founded Boston Mamas, a portal for all things parenting, six years ago. “We don’t have the benefit of a village anymore, as much as all of us would love one. The way people have coped is to look to the power of online to develop those connections and feel like you’re not alone.”