As a mother in today’s times, I can see that the challenges facing me are very different and unique from what my mother faced. And in such times, while I was scouring the virtual world to get some kind of like-minded support, I came across First Mom’s Club (FMC) – a collective of 20,000+ moms from across the world, sharing experiences, information and views that resonate with my own.
In a free-wheeling chat with Life Beyond Numbers, Ruchita Dar Shah, Chief Mommy Officer at First Mom’s Club tells us about the journey so far and the way forward.
When did FMC launch?
While I started it in October 2010 to connect with my close friends, it truly took off only on 8th March 2013, with the launch of a logo and my blog featuring mompreneurs and other mommy bloggers.
What was life before FMC?
I can distinctly divide my life in two parts – before FMC and after FMC. And undoubtedly, each has had its charm.
In my previous avatar, I was advertising professional, married to an ex-banker (that, I still am!). As an advertising-er, I have worked with agencies such as Preeti Vyas Giannetti, RK Swamy BBDO and Mudra for brands like Sony, HBO, Nestle, Dabur, Aditya Birla Group and The Taj. Two kids, three countries and four cities later, I finally struck gold in work-life balance as I began freelancing as a designer. And then First Moms Club happened – and life as I knew it, turned on its head.
I was the first in my circle of friends to have a baby. Unfortunately (or fortunately) in our generation, we don’t depend as much on our mothers or aunts for support, as much as we do on our peers. Initially I started First Moms Club on Facebook to connect with my girlfriends. The group allowed us to share our post-pregnancy experiences, fears and uncertainties with each other. Some continued with their careers, while others became stay-at-home moms, and yet others (like me) figured out a mid-path.
While we were different in many ways – our education, career choices, where in the world we lived, the one thing common that bound all of us was that we were all grappling with this new promotion and designation of ‘mother’. Most of us felt the need to reach out and figure it out together without worrying about being judged or being labeled ‘not good enough’.
From October 2010 to this day, I find building this community very fulfilling personally. Seeing mothers from all over the world connecting and communicating with one another is very rewarding, because this is why the group was created to begin with.
Would you say FMC is different from other parenting platforms?
While most websites or platforms address parenting concerns, FMC is completely dedicated to the woman behind the mother, who is often forgotten in this roller coaster journey. As time passed, my friends invited their friends who then invited other like-minded women onto the group and slowly but surely, we’re now a 20,000 strong community, and growing!
As against most parenting sites or expert pages, FMC is powered by us mommy members ourselves. It’s not a one-way gyan giving platform, but one where every woman/mom can voice her opinion and bond over common issues. It’s almost like each mom has a megaphone in her hand and she is not afraid to voice her opinion on this platform. FMC members have to adhere to certain rules, so that the group continues to remain meaningful as it was in its early days and yet is a space for moms to hang out.
What is FMC Bazaar?
We have tried to remain dynamic and true to our initial philosophy – that of offering all moms a platform. The need to promote women who’d started their own businesses gave rise to the FMC Bazaar. A lot of us struggle getting the work life balance right. To showcase examples of moms among us who had changed their career paths and modelled them around their children and still enjoying their work got me creating our ‘Mommy Rebooted’ section.
A couple of other soon to be launched features like the ability to vent anonymously are ideas born from the group members’ suggestions.
What do you believe has been your biggest achievement with FMC?
FMC is probably India’s largest closed group of moms. Its primary aim is to connect mothers on a non-judgmental platform where they connect as women and not just moms. Over the last 3 years, I’ve noticed women becoming a lot more relaxed about motherhood and growing as individuals at the same time. I’m proud about the part FMC has played in bringing about this change. And while there are many milestones that FMC has celebrated, it’s some of the smallest things that make me most proud.
When the mom of an autistic child can tell her story and connect with other moms from around the world who face similar challenges, desi moms living abroad meeting in person after connecting first on FMC, members contributing massively to a toy drive for an NGO that teaches underprivileged children – these are proud moments for me as the fraternity of FMC grows. Moms often comment that they don’t need to Google any answers – they get them from their FMC friends.
Any incidents you distinctly remember that embody your intention of starting FMC?
When I delivered my first child through a C-sec procedure, I remember my gynecologist mentioning that whenever a mother gives birth to child via caesarian, everyone around her forgets that she is the real patient and not the child. The birth of the child takes over and everyone focuses on the new child forgetting the mother’s recovery. That thought stayed with me. Both my pregnancies were smooth and while my first child was a poster child when it came to all his milestones, my second son had delayed motor milestones. However, I was left without too many answers because it wasn’t a very common problem. I was unable to get real answers from real moms just like me. I think these two incidents eventually led me to make FMC relevant for other moms where we could be more open and better connected.
Where does First Mom’s Club go from here?
FMC’s core goal – whether it is the group or the site, is to ensure that it is always a platform for its members to share, connect, communicate, to grow as individuals and professionals and to have fun doing so.
The first objective of the website is to allow moms to access relevant content a lot more easily. That will also allow the group to be connected more intimately while information can be accessed on the site. The site will help mompreneurs grow their businesses by opening up a bigger market for them.
True to our philosophy of staying relevant to our members, the website will build on and grow based on the feedback we get from all of us mom-bers.