“A mom village”: Mothers uplift one another through local Facebook groups

DEDHAM, Mass. — Offering everything from hand-me-down toys to parenting advice and pediatrician recommendations, moms in local Facebook groups are making the hardest job in the world a little easier for one another.

Sasha DiMarsico, mom of boys Rafi and Luca, tells Boston 25 News her go-to when she has a question only another mom can answer is her “Real Moms of Dedham” Facebook group.

“As moms, we go through many things and so many different situations in life. Everything from pregnancy and then post-partum and then having a newborn and being really overwhelmed,” DiMarsico said. “It’s been honestly a wonderful resource in so many ways.”

DiMarsico has gotten advice, offered free items to other moms and started a fundraiser to benefit Ukraine, with complete strangers dropping off donated items at her door.

But sometimes, what she’s looking for is simply mom-to-mom moral support.

“Being able to ask a question, or sometimes, when you’re writing in the middle of the night and you’re crying and you know that someone is going to be right there, is going to say, ‘You’re still a great mom, even though x, y and z happened,’ or, ‘Everything will be OK,’” DiMarsico said. “All of that is just so uplifting.”

LawnStarter ranks Boston second-best city in 2022 for new moms. The company compared 180 cities across the nation, using “40 mom-friendliness factors, such as OB/GYN and pediatrician access, strength of breastfeeding laws, child care costs, and new-mom support groups.”

One of the moms in DiMarsico’s group, Felicity Ingles of West Roxbury, relies on her Facebook mom network to find babysitters, seek potty training advice and offer other moms toys her kids have outgrown.

But last month, her post in the Dedham moms group was more personal and urgent. Stuck at jury duty with her own mother watching her kids, Ingles realized her then seven-month-old son Chandler didn’t have enough breastmilk at home.

Ingles fired off a post from the courthouse asking for another mom to drop off some milk at her apartment.

Within minutes, several moms had offered their hard-earned breastmilk.

“I was very emotional about it. I went home, and I told my husband, ‘I can’t believe all these women were able to do that for me and they don’t even know me,’” Ingles said. “I consider a lot of them to be my friends that I haven’t really met, and they’re just a support system for me.”

Ingles ended up making it home in time for her son’s feeding. She was excused by the judge – a suggestion from another Facebook mom.

But she is hardly the only mom to find such help.

New Hampshire mom Christine TenBroeck, whose nine-month-old daughter Makayla was staying overnight with TenBroeck’s mother in Groton during a January storm, reached out on a Groton mothers’ Facebook group with a similar request. Having left her daughter without enough milk, she asked for someone nearby to drop off some additional breastmilk.

About 30 women offered to drop off a bag of frozen breastmilk.

TenBroeck, blown away by the generosity, is now planning to pay it back by donating her own excess breastmilk to a local hospital.

“I didn’t think anyone was going to reply at all,” TenBroeck said. “I’m still shocked in the best way possible that all these women reached out to me.”

Motherhood therapist Chelsea Robinson tells Boston 25 News having support from other moms is essential.

“We say that it takes a village to raise a child. But it takes a village to raise a mom, too,” Robinson said. “None of us are born knowing how to do this whole motherhood thing. And, so, when we find that village, whether it’s through social media, through our friends or family, we finally feel that sense of belonging.”

Robinson is the founder of Mama’s Modern Village, which offers coaching, workshops and other support for women on their motherhood journey. She says women can be each other’s best resource but warns mom-to-mom advice is not a substitute for professional therapy or medical attention.

“While seeking advice from your mom friends can feel so validating and supportive, there are also times when it is necessary to seek the support of a clinical mental health therapist or your doctor,” Robinson said.

Robinson says the solidarity among moms on social media is especially powerful during a couple isolating years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s really beautiful when you can look at someone who is a stranger and just feel like, ‘I see part of myself in you, because I’m a mom, too,’” Robinson said.