A Momster takeover, on Mother’s Day

momsters

Some Meetup stories just plain write themselves, like Jenny Beene Skuban’s story. She’s the Organizer of A Momster takeover: a group for Awkward Moms in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Jenny is a native Cincinnatian. Before she found Meetup, she was comfortably surrounded by a support system that included a best friend who had children of the same age at the same time as her. They were inseparable, until a job relocation forced their family to move cross country, leaving Jenny feeling isolated and alone for the first time in her life.

They kept in touch, but Jenny continued to bemoan the situation until tough love took over. Her best friend told her to “suck it up and find some friends.” Her friend did some googling, found Momsters, and sent the link to Jenny.

Jenny was an early member and she loved it from the beginning. She watched the Meetup grow from 10 to nearly 120 members within two years. In July 2014, she stepped up to take over the Meetup from the woman who founded it, but she refuses to be called ‘Organizer.’

“I don’t do anything more than anyone else. The members make this Meetup. We do it for each other.” She quickly qualified that by saying, “honestly I don’t know how we do it,” with a self-deprecating laugh.

The Meetup group is a support system to help parents come out of their shells. She says, “It reminds you of who you really are, with people involved in the same kinds of struggles. We love each other for it. It’s not about hulking around on the internet. We want you there. We want to actually know you.”

She came to Meetup with a deep understanding of how important it is to have a network: “Once you have kids you think your life is over and you’ll never make friends again. It’s so isolating.”

She told me several stories about how their Meetup has banded together to support members through tough times. Like when a member with a young baby suddenly became pregnant with twins. After the twins were born, members took turns staying with her all day for weeks, bringing food and babysitting. They’ve seen members through post-partum depression. And when a member broke her ankle in a car accident, they took care of her kids while she recovered.

They are powerful together. “We band together in so many awesome ways. If we want to get something done, we get it done.” Like the time they decided to reach out and help children living in poverty in downtown Cincinnatti, not far from where some members (er, Momsters) live.

They organized a drive to collect supplies for the families, cleaned out their homes and brought them groceries and gift cards. It was a turning point for her. She said, “we are helping ourselves, but we need to help others too.”

“We want to teach our children about giving back. We are scouring the city to find a way to volunteer, donate time, and do whatever we can to show our kids that this is how you live your life, this is what you do.”

When I first reached out to Jenny to hear more about her story, she said she should have time to talk after the mother-son superhero dance, Mother’s Day 5k Race and hopefully during naptime. Thank goodness her son was a (somewhat) heavy sleeper.  This Mother’s Day she’ll be taking a well-deserved day off from the Momster Meetup, focusing on the roles she inhabits everyday: mom, marathoner, and yes, superhero.

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Andrea Murphy
Andrea works with the Community Team on outreach, education and engagement initiatives that celebrate, strengthen and broaden the community. Expect to hear from her if you're doing great things with your Meetup Group.