One day you’re sharing fun links, a special sale on those epic shoes you love, the latest on your favorite book, blogging about your life, your parenthood, your struggles – all within your social network, all with those other moms looking for the deal, the story, the less-alone of it all.
You see others share your finds, share your tweets and Facebook links, share your blog posts. You are amazed at the influence of social media through you and because of you.
The next day? You’re watching a documentary on maternal health and mortality and can’t sleep for days on end, wondering how can YOU possibly help. You begin to feel helpless.
But then you realize – that network you’ve built? That’s the network that is populated with all those other mothers like you. All those other passionate, sleep deprived, vulnerable big hearts just like you. And they’ll want to help, they’ll want to spread the word, they have networks too.
This was the mental process I went through when I watched No Mother No Cry on TV a few months ago. I was haunted by those mothers – my fellow women-in-the-thick-of-it – that are dying during or after labor and delivery, simply because of lack of medical care or lack of trained attendants. I couldn’t sleep knowing it was happening in such steep numbers, and in such preventable ways. I heard Christy Turlington Burns share her story (the beautiful and haunting film is her work of art) and talk about her organization Every Mother Counts. I poured over the Every Mother Counts site, taking in all the information, wondering what I could do
I even said yes to be an ambassador for Red Rover, (a mom-started new app) simply because of their affiliation with Every Mother Counts, because spreading the word with their partnership would amplify my voice and others’ so profoundly and help build a groundswell for the cause. I participated in a Twitter chat with Christy, along with the mom behind Red Rover, and countless other moms as we discussed maternal health and mortality. With my own eyes I watched as social media was changing the world. It felt powerful, it felt deep-soul good. It felt like “YES! This is what it’s all about!”
I then watched and read as Heather Armstrong joined the cause, visited Bangladesh on her own dime and began the path to using her social media capital to make world change in maternal health, too. Her influence, home-grown and cultivated at her house, on her computer, at her blog, just like me. Her reach is obviously substantially larger than mine, but we are the same. We both are using what we have, what networks we’ve built, to spread the word. Each penny, each thought, each heart tug MATTERS.
I started to see mothers as a special breed of activists – those uniquely possessing the radical skill and act of motherhood, as well as the vulnerability of a mama bear, more primal than agressive, simply protecting her young, protecting her fellow mothers (as Catherine Connors and Heather both so eloquently described). These combined forces pushing motherhood to a power that is exponential in its rise, limitless in its reach and deep in its impact – far beyond our nuclear families.
And as Heather said, it’s not that motherhood defines us as women, but rather FUELS US. It is the catalyst. It is the constant flame, it can flare and grow, and it will always be there.
What is my point? This is just my one small story of how social media woke me up and how I have been able in my small way, from my tiny house here in the deep South of the U.S. to spread the word, to wake up at night thinking about these women across the globe, and sharing information, doing the work as I can, pressing my heart into the matter so that real change, real awareness and real soul stirring can happen. But it’s not about me. It’s about what we’re doing. All of us. I know you have your stories, ways that you are using social media in vast and profound ways, ways that you want to change the world.
Want to hear more about Every Mother Counts so you can join the movement too?
A couple days ago, Christy, Heather, Catherine, Alisa Volkman (co-founder of Babble) and Mary Alice Stephenson spoke at the Women: Inspiration & Enterprise symposium about mothers as agents of social change. READ ABOUT IT. Seriously, you will be empowered, inspired, and won’t know where to start but will know you have to start somewhere. Once you read Christy’s account of the panel, I encourage you to take heart to dig deeper into this cause and see if it moves you like it has the rest of us. Watch the trailer for No Woman No Cry, find where you can view it, and if there’s no place near you email them to find out more details about getting your hands on the film to share. Stay tuned to Babble as we continue to be a part of this cause and share updates on the work that Christy is doing and how you can get involved.