by Deron Johnston
On Saturday, November 10, at the North Grenville Public Library in downtown Kemptville, an unusual event took place. Co-hosted by Kemptville resident Katie Nolan and Dr Jackie Schoemaker-Holmes, a former Kemptville resident, it was an afternoon for women to get together to share their stories about motherhood. Any woman could apply to become a speaker at the event and all were welcome to attend.
A mother herself, Dr. Schoemaker-Holmes (she prefers to be called Jackie) struggled with post-partum depression and anxiety after the birth of her daughter Aya. Mummy Voices LIVE became an extension of Jackie’s blog, Eating Her Young, where she detailed her journey through motherhood, specifically her experience with post partum. After talking with other mothers, Jackie quickly identified the urgent need for a non-judgmental space for mothers to be able to speak openly. Jackie adds, “I couldn’t find something that worked for me; so I gathered all the wonderful women I knew into one online space on Facebook that I called Mummy Voices, asked them to invite other amazing women they knew, and now we have over 700 members in the Mummy Voices Village”.
The theme of this particular afternoon was Love and Loss. The speakers were mostly local women, including Jeanne Lambert, Erika Cuccaro, Hannah Irving, Kristin Strackerjan, Linda Mellway McIntyre and Michele Parks-Viger. Christina Chrysler of Brockville, and Ottawa Comedian Jennifer Whiteford, were also part of the agenda. The truths revealed by the participants were raw, real and intensely personal. An appreciative audience of about 30 women were there to applaud, laugh, cry and unconditionally support each other.
This was the second Mummy Voices, with the first taking place in Brockville. Jackie hopes that it will grow and lead to more Mummy Voices LIVE events and result in more meetings in real life for mummies to chat, eat, have play dates, and find community, both with and without kids. The next one is coming up in Spencerville this month. “We have started a thread for moms who want to get together that I post once weekly, and the Spencerville moms have united! I think they are going to eat and drink at Little Sisterz”.
“Mummy Voices is a movement, not just a group. It is about women supporting each other, no matter what. It is about different parenting styles and different ideas about what’s ‘right’ for children coexisting in one place that is so supportive and unbelievably non-judgmental. Mummy Voices is something that moms, and the world, needs more of”.
It would be hard to argue with that. Less judgement and more support sounds like the kind of situation that we could all use.