Two years ago, I joined a community known as Maya's Mom. It was my very first experience with a site devoted entirely to Moms, at a time when I had just begun blogging. As I had only just wet my feet in the "Mommy blogging" genre, Maya's Mom seemed like the perfect place to start--the profile avatars even consisted, literally, of pictures of feet! Mine were, as a recall, cute sandal-clad hippy Mom feet with painted toenails back then.
I met Anne, the founder of Maya's Mom, in Chicago at a BlogHer convention in 2007. I told her how much I liked the way the community--and it really felt like a community--was set up, the intuitive interface that let Moms find and connect with other Moms easily to ask questions, get info, share their own tips, even import personal blogs. I remember at the time her passion and enthusiasm were contagious. I liked how real and down-to-earth she was, just another Mom like me, who happened to have a big idea and the courage to run with it. It helped to inspire me to work on my own site, make it into something bigger.
As the Maya's Mom community grew, I learned and grew right along with it. My little Mommy blog was no longer this personal journal I kept for myself. Instead, I developed a loyal following. I became known in the "Mommy Blogger" world; people recognized my name. Bloggers I read and respected wrote to me and told me they enjoyed this post or that of mine. It was an exhilirating feeling, being accepted by my peers in that way.
And a lot of that exposure, that recognition, came about as a direct result of the time I spent on Maya's Mom, meeting other Moms and forging friendships with them. In those early days, I was a frequent participator, logging in every day and sometimes several times a day, actively commenting in so many of the threads that I'm sure some of the members got sick and tired of seeing my name. I joined groups, doling out what passed for advice to the best of my ability and often deferring to the wisdom of the community when I needed help with my own life's problems. I celebrated my friend's children's birthdays with them, and congratulated them on their anniversaries and special occasions. I commiserated when they went through tough times. And they did the same for me.
It's sad to know that, with the passing of Maya's Mom, which will be completely defunct in just a few days, those times are gone now. I haven't yet made that same connection at babycenter, the community that has risen to fill in the void that Maya's Mom leaves behind. I miss the women I knew and who befriended me when I was learning the ropes, first as an online Mom right along with them, and then as a blogger whose site took off with their help and encouragement. Many of them have moved on now.
But I'm looking forward to re-connecting with those parents (Dads too!) who have chosen to stay here at babycenter, just as I look forward to forging new bonds as babycenter grows and flourishes. I know that Anne did what she had to do, what was right for her, and I know that the people behind babycenter are good people, people who recognized the value of the community Maya's Mom had established, and incorporated it into their own vision. I'm glad, because that community helped me to grow, and I want it to continue to help others.
My kids are no longer babies--they are big kids now, almost young men--but they'll still always be my babies. And that's why I've chosen to stay. New Moms need help and support, and maybe I can offer that. And, as for the rest of us who have been parents for years, well, we still question ourselves sometimes. We still need each other.
So, as I bid au revoir to Maya's Mom, I also welcome the new babycenter community with hope and optimism for the future.
And I invite you all to join me. Take the time to visit the site, check out the community, and get in on the "ground floor," so to speak. Know that you belong, that you are welcomed with open arms by parents just like you. I'll be looking out for you.