My friend and colleague Larissa and I met in 2003 in graduate school at Parson’s School of Design in New York City. (Yes, the one from Project Runway, and no, sadly we never got to have Tim Gunn tell us to “make it work”). Larissa is from Texas and I am from North Carolina, but other than our different tastes in barbeque styles, we realized that we had a lot in common.
We bonded over late nights at the 24-hour diner that provided the nubby crayons, the paper tablecloths and the patient wait staff which enabled so many of our projects. We were both particularly interested in the intersection of design, storytelling and social commentary and were forever coming up with quirky, personal projects that (with varying success) addressed topics we felt passionate about. We spent our days in classes, in the computer lab, or picking at cheese fries in the diner with friends, but always focusing on our projects and how we could improve them. Life was a bit hectic, but it was good.
University Place Restaurant (which has, not surprisingly, closed) where we did most of our brainstorming and eating. Photo credit to Vanishing New York because we never took of photo of this place in the 34242 times we were there! (in our defense, smart phones were not yet invented).
Oh, did I mention that we were also kidless back then? It never crossed my mind back then…but it sure does now.
With both of us experiencing chaotic new lives as mothers in addition to running our own design companies, we still have a lot in common. When we met up last fall and we started reflecting on how our lives had changed, we realized two key items in our conversation:
1. We both needed more creativity in our lives.
Now, to be fair, we weren’t completely devoid of creativity. We both worked in the design industry and, like most moms, we have thrown together a birthday party based on a set Pinterest photos. By all accounts we should feel creatively fulfilled. However, it’s not the same when you’re doing creative work that’s either dictated by the client or has been batted around by a committee of stakeholders until it resembles a shadow of its original inception. And, somehow, trying to replicate the correct angle of Thomas the Tank’s nose on a birthday cake isn’t much better…
You see, when all is said and done, there’s nothing like creating something of your very own, with your own hands, from your own mind. The excitement and pride of something you’ve created from nothing is exhilarating. That’s the type of creativity I mean, and that’s the type that we were missing.
2. We both realized that being a mom and balancing any sort of personal development is just darn hard, and we wanted to create a community of moms who could inspire and nurture each other.
Everyone loves to say that being a mom is hard work. And some women may actually believe it before they become one. But for the majority of us, we ignore it until it happens, and then it hits like a ton of bricks. IT IS HARD. Harder than most anything we’ve done. And maybe I just didn’t believe it and thought “surely this mom thing won’t be that hard.” How wrong I was! Turns out, being a mom is a long slog of hard work, and I’m certainly not even one of the better ones. There are days (or weeks!) when I just want to crawl into a hole and go to sleep…a sleep that isn’t disturbed by a small child jumping on my head at 5:30 am.
A rare peaceful moment with my son Leo at Yosemite National Park.
During a visit when we were under the same roof with both our families last year, Larissa and I watched the 3 kids together, and we could barely keep the chaos under control. The 9 month old kept falling over, and the 2 and 3 year olds wouldn’t stop trying to kill each other over the toys. (That’s when I developed a new appreciation for moms with 3+ kids. Seriously, they must be superwomen!) We both knew moms need support and appreciation. Moms need understanding. And we realized that moms like us need a creative outlet for themselves to take break from the endless cycle of keeping up with motherhood.
Larissa with the three kids as they attack her.
As moms, we want to commiserate with those who are like us, those who get it. We want to vent the frustrations and celebrate the successes of moms like us. We want people to recognize that even if the achievements of the past are now replaced by more mundane ones (like getting dressed before 1pm or making a meal of which at least 60% gets eaten) these new achievements can sometimes be just as difficult and are definitely just as important as the old ones.
That’s why Mommikin was born. With these two needs in mind, we decided to create a community that encourages moms to be creative, while also giving them space and support to be understood.
Creative push with understanding
We created Mommikin to be a resource for moms to pursue their creativity. We’ll push you to reach your creative potential, but we also understand what you’re going through as a mom. We found that these values came through in our own working relationship. There is an understanding that our children come first. Mommikin conference calls happen while the children are napping or sleeping, and are often truncated by a hungry/whiny/cranky child. Brainstorming sessions are held during nursing sessions. A “ffdshjkfde” on instant chat means, “I gotta go, my kid is attacking me.”
Whether you are just wanting to express the sheer frustration of the day, or need help getting back into your creative work force once the kids are in school, Mommikin can support all moms. We provide short weekly challenges to get your creative juices flowing and to help you celebrate, vent, and document your journey through motherhood. We feature professionals who have managed a creative career with children and those who have successfully remained inspired despite the daily exhaustion of raising their kids. We plan to have many more resources for creative moms of all levels coming soon!
This article was originally posted here.