Featured image: Lee Cherry
A funny thing happened when we launched Splimm. People from all aspects of our lives started to tell us about parents they knew who might be interested in our project. Friends from college reemerged with questions, former colleagues shared stories of their own attempts to navigate the issue with their children (or parents), and extended family happily relieved themselves of a secret they’d kept for so long.
It’s no surprise that, early in our existence, we found Celia Behar of The Lil’ Mamas. Or, Celia found us. We’re not sure which happened first – a mutual friend was informing me about Celia’s recent endorsement of cannabis on her super-popular blog, possibly at the very same moment that an Oregon cannabis farmer told Celia to check out Splimm – but soon enough we were in touch through Instagram, then exchanging texts, then meeting for drinks on East Burnside.
And now I love Celia, and I adore The Lil’ Mamas. I mostly avoided mama blogs when I was pregnant and when Pema was young, because I always seemed to find judgment and preachiness. Certainly Splimm was born out of a sense that society prescribes such a narrow view of parenting, and we wanted to challenge that. The Lil’ Mamas is doing the same thing, in a different way, and it’s inspired us to see their work and their impact.
So I was thrilled when Celia agreed to answer some of my questions about the evolution of Mamas and about the stance she’s taken on cannabis.
Jenn Lauder: The Lil’ Mamas is NOT your Mama’s Mama Blog, and you’re not necessarily who I’d conjure if asked to think of a typical mama blogger. So how did this project come to be? And how has the Mamas community evolved over the years?
Celia Behar: Wait. What? I don’t seem like a typical mom blogger? Weird. No, seriously, that’s what I feel sets Lil’ Mamas apart from other mom blogs and websites. And that’s exactly what we wanted and why it was started by my business partner, Alisan. I became a mom before her and when she was pregnant with her first she couldn’t find a mom site that was ‘real’. Everything was painted so perfectly and she didn’t feel perfect. She came to me to talk about that since she knew I already had children and I’ve never been one to paint a perfect picture of anything. Love it or hate it, I’m about as real as it gets. She then decided to start a FB group of 6 Mamas and Mamas-to-be where we could talk about any and all things and ask real questions. In fact, the very first question that was asked was ‘what the hell is coming out of my vagina!?’ Oh, mucus plug. No one tells moms about you, do they? Anyway, from 6 we grew to a private/secret FB group of now 3800 women and started the website to go along with the group about 3 years ago. The site took off relatively fast and we have an amazing, loyal, cult-like following which is awesome. We are always looking to make the site reach more moms so we talk about it all. From products to events and blogs to Mamapreneurs. We even just added a monthly music/playlist feature after we started getting asked to start covering music events and album releases. Seems everyone is catching on that a. Moms control most things (duh) and b. Being a mom doesn’t mean you can’t be cool. In fact, come on. You’re totally badass and are way cooler than you ever realized you could be. Ya just gotta know how to own it.
JL: I love Mamas because I feel like it prioritizes authenticity, the raw realness of the experience of motherhood, instead of this socially constructed role that subsumes us when we push out a kid. Do you think Mamas is actively challenging our conventional conception of motherhood? If so, why is that an important conversation?
CB: God, I hope it is because that’s what we wanted. It certainly seems to be. Many of brands that reach out to us aren’t the brands you typically relate to a mom site (trendy clothing, jewelry, music, etc.) and even the ones that are, like baby bottles, kids clothing and car seats tell us they love how honest, self-deprecating and funny we are in our reviews. We frequently get referred to as being the ‘sexy mom website’ – which we love. Because moms ARE sexy! I mean, hello. That’s how we became moms. And that’s at the crux of it for me and why these conversations are important to have. So many women lose who they are when they become moms. I see it in my life coach practice all the time. And I certainly went through it. It’s basically the Madonna and the Whore complex. Before kids (and marriage in some cases) we are allowed to be sexy and free and fun. Once we have kids we are apparently supposed to become these perfect, asexual, fanny pack wearing, boring people whose only function is make a perfect home and raise perfect kids. We like to believe we’ve come a long way in society when it comes to how women are perceived, but (and in today’s political climate this is getting glaringly more obvious), we really haven’t. Especially when it comes to motherhood. And I firmly believe this is why so many moms are so lost and unhappy. Why they can’t fully enjoy being a mom – because they don’t feel they are allowed to still be who THEY are at their core without facing judgment. And that sucks.
JL: So, speaking of being who you really are…. It’s not the first thing you notice, but if you peruse The Lil’ Mamas you’ll find a few mentions of cannabis and cannabis products. What’s your relationship with cannabis?
CB: Oh cannabis. How I love thee. I’ve actually used cannabis on and off since I was 14, but when I became a mom I got caught up in the mom stereotype of being a certain way and presenting a certain ‘mom image’ so I stopped using it. After I had my first daughter I was treated for PPD w Prozac – which worked – but I was never quite the same meaning my anxiety was over the top after becoming a mom, but I just sucked it up and assumed it came along w motherhood. After my second daughter was born, I thought I had escaped PPD but once I stopped nursing that anxiety was back w a vengeance. I had racing thoughts, rage, and insomnia. I couldn’t be in the moment. My friend Tom Grubbs of Moto Perpetuo Farm noticed something was off and recommended I try cannabis. I balked at the idea and then tried it a few weeks later. It was a game changer. I hid that I was using it for years, and JUST as I was about to come out talking about it publicly my little sister (a mom of 4) was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer at age 40. The first thing I thought when I found out was she needed cannabis and, luckily, she lives in a legal state (Oregon) where Tom also happens to live, so it was Moto Perpetuo Farm to the rescue. The cannabis has helped more than I can say. And more than doctors typically WILL say, which is frustrating. But it also spurred me to take the leap and get a conversation going about moms and cannabis for multiple purposes. So, The Lil’ Mamas became the first non-cannabis related mom website to publicly come out in support of using cannabis and normalizing its use for multiple purposes. It was time. I mean, if I could make all these jokes in my blog about drinking bourbon on the reg, which isn’t actually good for you, why in the world couldn’t I write about using cannabis which is medicine?! If we weren’t Your Mama’s Mamas blog before that, we sure are now.
JL: How’s the response been since you came out in support of cannabis on The Lil’ Mamas?
CB: That’s been mixed. There has been far more support than I expected in general but there are some haters as well. I expected the support for my sister using it for cancer – that’s not really a controversial thing anymore. At the very least most people seem to realize it helps people feel better – even if they won’t acknowledge that it actually HEALS. But PPD is always a hot topic, even without cannabis, so I’m getting some heat there. I’ve had a few people suggest I get my ‘tubes tied’ since I clearly am ‘weak’ and ‘can’t handle being a mother.’ Which, ya know, is lovely. But I’ve also had so many moms contact me privately to thank me for speaking up, making them feel less alone in their struggle, and asking me questions about how they can use cannabis if they aren’t already. It’s those conversations that make all the hate worth it. And for the record, I haven’t gotten my tubes tied and have no plans to do so. Assholes.
No arguments here, Celia! Splimmers, check out The Lil’ Mamas! You will be so glad we sent you!