There’s no doubt about it – parenting can be an isolating role, especially for many first-time moms on maternity leave.
Restrictive nap and feeding schedules make it nearly impossible to leave the house, let alone connect with fellow moms in the community face-to-face.
Thanks to a Facebook group dubbed ‘Langley Moms,’ one can instantaneously share their trials and triumphs of motherhood, and lean on fellow women who are also deep in the parenting trenches of diaper duty and toddler meltdowns, with just the click of a mouse.
From sharing the annoyances of their daily lives with their families and posts about missing toys and sales on bed sheets at Costco, to posting about upcoming local events, meet-ups, play dates and emergency food drop-offs, it has proven a valuable asset for over 2,500 moms in the Langley area.
Contributed photo: Lana McCarney and her son, Liam, proudly wear their Langley Moms’ buttons.
Just ask Lana McCarney, 35, a long-time member of the popular online forum and proud Langley mom of one, who currently operates as an admin, alongside Tara Kurtz.
It was while on maternity leave with her infant son, Liam, that McCarney was on the lookout for some “mom friends’’ in the Langley area with babies around her son’s age to connect with. However, the task proved to be more challenging than she had anticipated.
“It can be very isolating being home alone with a newborn,” she admitted.
McCarney joined the ‘Langley Moms’ Facebook group around seven years ago. Back then; the group also had a ‘meetup’ page for moms to connect in person.
The meetup board posted about a coffee group at McBurney Coffee & Tea House in downtown Langley, which she decided to attend.
McCarney can still recall pushing her stroller into the café and almost letting her nerves get the best of her. However, fate intervened.
“I considering getting my coffee and just walking right back out the door, but I pulled up my ‘big girl ‘panties and walked over to the obvious group of moms and introduced myself.”
Over coffee, conversation and lots of laughter, McCarney clicked with LM member Tara Kurtz – the two became instant best friends both online and off.
A few months after the meeting, the founding mom of LM’s who was running the group of around 200 members, decided to hand over the reigns – Kurtz became the boss and McCarney, an official admin.
“The group suddenly started to grow exponentially,” said McCarney, who believes the growth is a reflection of the fact that moms have a deep desire to share and connect in a meaningful way.
“Whether it’s to take or give advice, rant, get together for coffee play dates, or share in triumphs or tragedies, Langley Moms provides that niche.”
Like most online groups, Langley Moms has its fair share of drama – it’s not uncommon for some to vent a little TMI (too much information about their spouses, in-laws or horrible bosses. But it’s the generosity of the online mom community that never ceases to amaze McCarney.
“One time over a year ago, I posted on my coffee break about what a crummy day I was having at work, making a joke about how everything that could possibly go wrong at work and home had decided to strike all in one morning. Well, I received a Facebook email from a fellow Langley Mom’s member, who just wanted to say that she gets it, and she hoped my day got better. She included an online $5 Starbucks gift card. There are countless stories like that of our supportive moms doing little things for each other every single day.”
A recent post on the Langley Moms page asking for members to share how they have benefited from the group, resulted in an outpour of feel-good stories and sentiments – 55 to be exact.
For some, the group provides a welcome refuge for moms needing a little encouragement or pat on the back.
“All the positive feedback from these women when you’re feeling down. It really helps to life your spirits after a long, upsetting day,” noted Laurie Marie Russell.
And, just when you thought there was nobody to turn to for help, one can usually count on a Langley Mom to lend a sympathetic ear, or in Danielle Christopher’s case, an extra set of hands to fill a parking meter.
“When I was stuck in the ER with my kiddo who has autism, I posted concern that I would be towed at LMH (Langley Memorial Hospital). I couldn’t leave to add more to the time; otherwise they would think we were leaving. When we did leave, someone did add to my time. I have no idea who but this was the only place I had asked.”
For Carla Nicholls Jung, Langley Moms was a lifeline when her sister died unexpectedly from a blood clot, leaving behind two young children.
“Langley mom’s did amazing things for my niece and nephew… everything from frozen meals, clothes, breast milk for my niece who was four-weeks-old, and money which saved my brother-in-law from losing his house,” she said.
“Wendy Olthoff created the Go Fund Me page, and organized a bunch of local ladies to accept donations. Just talking about it makes me cry. So much love!”
Last Christmas, the generous spirit of the group motivated Langley Moms’ member Camille Lafreniere, to get out into the community and make a difference beyond the World Wide Web.
The 31-year-old mother of four children under the age of seven partnered with her neighbor, Jennifer Pyper (also a Langley Moms’ member) to launch Santa for Seniors’ – an annual charitable endeavor that pairs up participating Langley Mom members and their families with a Langley lodge resident to share the true meaning of Christmas.
“We were trying to decide last Christmas what charity/organization we could donate to with our children over the holidays,” said Lafreniere, a stay-at-home mom who moved to Langley from the Kooteneys in 2015.
“We both decided we would like to give to seniors and when we couldn’t find a name tag on a giving tree for a senior we decided to take it upon ourselves,” chimed Pyper.
After chatting with the Langley Lodge to talk about the seniors and what Christmas is like for them, the two moms were shocked to learn that many of the seniors don’t ever receive visitors.
Soon after, the two friends decided to reach out to their fellow Langley Moms for assistance.
“We were both so excited about the idea and posted it to Langley moms,” added Lafreniere, noting that within an hour, the women received well over 100 responses from moms in the group wanting to know how they too could get on board.
Lafreniere credits the success of Santa for Seniors, which is in full swing again this year, to the Facebook group.
“Our biggest fear was a senior not getting a gift and a visit,” she said.
“Thanks to Langley Moms, we were able to fill in time slots and communicate what was needed.”
Over the course of two full days last December, Lafreniere, Pyper and their children visited the Langley Lodge, helping to facilitate the introductions between moms and seniors.
“It created a wonderful sense of community and the true meaning of Christmas,” said Lafreniere, who has since recognized many of the moms and seniors while out at Tot Romp or Walmart, creating camaraderie both online and off-screen.
For Pyper, 39, helping to coordinate the Christmas gifting experience at the Langley Lodge with Lafreniere has been a gift in itself.
“To watch a senior who doesn’t have many visitors experience love from a stranger can’t be told in words but only felt in the heart,” she said.
“The long embraces and tears in your eyes as you watch the senior in disbelief that a stranger would visit and give them a generous gift for Christmas.”
And as for the online group that helped spread the word about the charitable initiative, Pyper says it’s far more valuable than any online forum or Google search.
“These moms are amazing,” said the mother of two.
If you are looking for the best dining, dentist or how to get red wine out of white carpet, this is the place to ask… experience trumps Google.It’s all relevant and at any time of the day you know a momma is up and available to answer.”
The members of Langley come from all walks of life and range in age from their early 20’s to late 40s.
From the young stay-at-home moms, reality show loving moms and overworked single moms, to the frazzled moms, dance moms, ‘crunchy granola moms’ and self dubbed ‘bad moms, there are all types of women who utilize the group on a daily basis.
Speaking on behalf this diverse cross sampling of the Langley female population, Pyper says there’s a real sisterhood in the group that makes it feel like family.
“What I love the most is the fact that I have never met in person many of these creative and strong women, but I feel like know them more than their husbands or friends. We have a Langley Mom bond.”
Psst…… You can also view this article in the holiday edition of Urbanique Magazine which is fresh off the presses today (Nov. 25th/16).
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.valleymom.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/AB0_0175.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]One of Vancouver’s top Mommy Bloggers, Kristyl Clark resides in the beautiful Fraser Valley region of British Columbia, Canada surrounded by lush countryside, urban shopping centers, wineries and parks. This work-at-home mom of two little Valley girls is proving there is nothing bland about the burbs. This adventurous family seems to always be out on some sort of crazy quest, from helicopter rides and wild river rafting, to top-secret paranormal investigations and living the high-life sampling the fine wines and foods of the Fraser Valley region. Kristyl also publishes a monthly column in Black Press publications throughout Metro Vancouver titled ‘Pink Laundry’. The ValleyMom.ca blog inspires her loyal fanbase through the trials and tribulations of suburban family living, guiding readers to local hotspots and hidden gems in her Canadian backyard.[/author_info] [/author]