Mary Katherine Backstrom is the author of the new book Mom Babble: The Messy Truth About Motherhood. She is the founder of the Mom Babble online community, and she lives in Florida.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Mom Babble--both the online community and the book?
A: Honestly, the idea came for the community first, which I have facilitated for about six years. I was always so tickled by baby babble. It seemed to me that children just let the overflow of their heart constantly pour from their lips, even before it formed a coherent thought.
I wanted my blog to be just that. A space for parenting thoughts, that may or may not be fully developed (because, hello, sleep deprivation). Thus, "Mom Babble" was born.
I eventually moved away from the title, as my writing and discussions expanded into different areas, but this book title was a nod to those first readers, who stood with me from day one, through the trenches of new parenthood (and some really strange writing).
Q: You write, "My hope for this book is that it can serve as a collection of winks and nods, from one mother to another." Can you say more about what you think mothers--and others--will take away from the book?
A: If I could boil it down to one word, I would hope they find solidarity.
I don't do a lot of teaching or advising in this book. How could I? My children are 6 and 4, respectively. I just share the good, the bad, and the beautiful of what life serves up to parents who are in the thick of it, so to speak.
I want someone to read a hilarious story, a heartbreaking moment, a humbling anecdote and think, "Wow, I thought I was alone in that", and realize they never were.
Q: The book's subtitle is "The Messy Truth About Motherhood." What do you see as some of the most common stereotypes about motherhood?
A: I poke a little fun about stereotypes in the introduction of my book.
I think yoga pants and messy buns and minivans are all very much a stereotype of modern motherhood. And stereotypes sometimes exist for good reason. I have grown to adore yoga pants, and as I write this response I am currently rocking a messy bun and drinking my fourth cup of coffee.
But the messy truth about motherhood is that its simultaneously beautiful and hard. It has an underbelly that people can be embarrassed to acknowledge. There is mental illness, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, depleted patience, and all kinds of struggles that go along with raising tiny humans.
You can find incredible peace in hearing that discussed in a book right alongside loving and funny stories. Motherhood is a dichotomy of hard and beautiful things, and we don't have to pretend otherwise.
Q: What has your online community meant for you over the years?
A: It was a life raft, to put things bluntly. I struggled greatly with postpartum depression, and was drowning in anxiety my first two years as a mother. My online community was my *only* community. They encouraged me, loved me, and affirmed me. I will spend the rest of my writing career trying to repay that kindness.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am working on another book right now, and I can't wait to share details on that project!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Mom Babble is important to me because I think it will make other parents feel less alone in the trenches of new motherhood, but it's also important to me because it's a project that has heart.
One hundred percent of my royalties from this book go to support The Mighty Acorn Foundation, which is an amazing foundation that supports and educates orphaned children in the slums of Kitale, Kenya.
I think right now, as we are all stuck inside and feel like the world is burning, we can feel pretty good about buying a book that doubles as a kindness to others. Not only is it a pretty good read (if I must say so myself), but each book helps support a child on the other side of the world. How special is that?
--Interview with Deborah Kalb