Hey Mama Hey! Happy New Year to you and your little ones. I am all out of sorts during this week between Christmas and the New Year. I have NO idea what day of the week it is and ObieQ’s schedule is thrown all the way off, due to late nights of holiday partying. Last night he went down at his normal time, Praise the Lawd! Only then was I able to really sit and think about what a fantastic year 2017 was for bringing Mama Fresh in my life.
In May I was laid off from my job. At this time I was stressed completely out because I was traveling from city to city, balancing a new baby, new marriage and dealing with heavy anxiety. So when I got the news it was truly bittersweet. The uncomfortable uncertainty of not having a job was paired with the comfort of knowing I didn’t have to travel for 24 days out of the summer. I was bummed out, but I had an idea. I knew there was a need for a community of Mamas where inclusion and diversity were priorities, for savvy Mamas like myself, in the city of Chicago. On Mother’s Day my husband addressed my card to Mama Fresh. That is how the name was born. My plan: I would let busy Mamas know about cool events happening in the city.
That was just the seed. During 2017 Mama Fresh took on a life of its own. My Fresh Mama Crew led the way with their suggestions and support. As we enter 2018 I wanted to take a pause for the cause and highlight some of my favorite Mama Fresh Moments of 2017.
One of the events that was dearest to my heart was the Mama Fresh Stroller Strides. After having your baby it can be tough being alone in the house, second guessing your judgement, feeling grateful and overwhelmed at the same damn time. Since being at home with Q during the week was new to me I started feeling all of those things immediately. I decided to host a weekly stroller stride in Hyde Park. That first Tuesday in June I was so nervous. I sat in Starbucks and waited. I didn’t know if anyone would show up. I hadn’t felt that vulnerable in a long time. I had decided that even if no one showed up, I would walk. I would push my stroller, hold my head up, and walk even if it was alone. Then I saw Ebonee turn the corner pushing her 5 week daughter Finley. I couldn’t assume she was coming to meet me but I was really hoping she was. That day we were a group of 5 and I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time. Stroller Stride continued for the next four months and it has cultivated some of my most authentic relationships.
“Milk n Honey” Breastfeeding Workshop
I am a supporter of breastfeeding, especially in the Black community. Breastfeeding has been a big part of my journey as a Mama. (It continues to be as I am nursing Q at 15 months and he shows no sign of stopping.) Luckily I had a community of other breastfeeding Mamas that I could call, text, ask 1 million questions. Every Mama does not have that support. Black mothers have the lowest rate of breastfeeding across ethnicities. I wanted to organize an event that spoke to expecting Mamas, Mamas that were new to nursing, headed back to work and pumping for their life…..and everything in between. For “Milk n Honey”, I partnered with University of Chicago Hospitals and the Lactation Consultants Team there. This round table intimate event was such a reflection of my vision. We had a beautiful afternoon that was full of information and sharing of experiences. Topics ranged from how to unblock a clogged duct to clapping back at relatives that make comments during the holidays. Feeling the energy of the Mamas in that room, this let me know I was on the right path.
Mama & Me Yoga
I am bad at yoga. Like really bad. I am no longer the flexible girl I was in high school and my mind hops around like a monkey in a cage the entire time. With that said, I love yoga. After I had Q I really wanted to be one of those cool moms in a yoga class with my baby. I was too intimidated and kept chickening out. The first event I ever threw for Mama Fresh was our Mama & Me Yoga. I found a beautiful space, the perfect teacher and I took a chance. I felt pretty confident that I would be able to get at least 5 Mamas to come out. I had supportive friends and they would come for sure. Well, the way it worked out, they were all out of town or unavailable. Would anyone support my vision? Was I out of my league? All of these doubts filled my head….but then we sold our first ticket. Then we sold out!!! Over 20 Mamas with their little ones joined us on a rooftop and we spent an hour being mindful. That event is when I realized we were building a community.
Every Labor Day in Chicago there is an African Festival of the Arts in Washington Park. My husband and I go every year and this year we went with our baby in tow. While walking and searching the stalls for a dashiki for a ObieQ woman stops me to say “Hey.” I naturally assume I know her from high school but she quickly lets me know she recognized me from Instagram and she follows me and loves the pictures and videos. That was a big deal to me. I hugged and invited her to join us the next day at a special edition stroller stride at the Brookfield Zoo. She actually came the next day and to more events after that! It has happened a couple of times since then but that was the first time a Mama called out Hey Mama Fresh to me in the streets. I love it, like obsessed. Recently I was walking into a fancy schmancy gala and a Mama saw me and asked me to help her zip her dress. She was so thankful to see someone she could trust. I stood there in that hotel bathroom and thought “Mama I made it!”
This blogging thing is tough for me. I don’t naturally consider myself a writer. I feel extremely passionate about Mama Fresh and the community we are creating. Like any other venture you want to sharpen your skills but I had no idea where to start. In September I noticed there was a blogging conference for Moms coming to the Chicago area. I really wanted to attend but talked myself out of it because I thought it was for “real bloggers.” I considered myself just a Mama that organized events that I wanted to attend but didn’t see happening. With the encouragement of a seasoned and awesome blogger I followed, Ana with Project Life Wellness, I signed up. So I drove over an hour, Mama Fresh T-shirt on and breast pump in tow.. I was there to learn from the awesome Mamas that were turning their lifestyle into a business. It was AMAZING. I asked questions, made contacts and the speakers blew my mind. I was on to something and I walked out of that conference fired up to take Mama Fresh to the next level and give my Fresh Mamas the access to the best experiences, services and products around!
What does 2018 have in store for us? Y’all I can’t even like I know exactly where this ride is going next. But I will tell you this, I know I am ready!!!