2016 has been THE rollercoaster year – losing phenomenal legends like Carrie Fisher, George Michael, Muhammed Ali, David Bowie – goodness, so many to even mention who sadly crossed over. We’ve seen the UK vote to leave the EU, and an orange buffoon (sorry, STILL can’t believe it) become President-Elect of the United States of America. Leonardo Di Caprio won his first ever Oscar, giant pandas were declared to be NOT endangered, and there’s now an Ebola vaccination. And that is just scraping the light-hearted barrel.
Amongst all of this, the year began for The Motherload® in much the same way as it had ended in 2015, with a fabulous Facebook group of a thousand MOLOs, coming together to form our brilliant community of support, honest advice and the funniest dispatches from the front line of motherhood.
We kicked off the fiesta of parenting carnage in January by narrowly dodging Laura’s washing basket (as opposed to she, who toppled into it after marvelling at it’s empty state), and then shared Jo’s tale of woe as she, completely frustrated by her husband playing with his games console every day, hid the controller in the oven. Awkwardly, she only remembered it when the oven started playing up and she opened the door to find it melted within an inch of it’s life! (Gamers Beware!)
In February, we found ourselves sobering up as Emma shared every parent’s worst fear; her best friend’s little girl was terribly sick with Meningitis B. The MOLO community rallied to support Emma and Faye’s parents, but sadly, just a couple of weeks later, little Faye lost her fight. Our group was rocked to the core, and helplessly saddened. Emma helped to establish and promote a petition to the government for the Meningitis B vaccination to be available to all children, which led to Faye’s parents addressing the government on this terrible illness.
As we reached Spring, and with the group expanding to 3,000 members, the tone was set for frank and full disclosure of the reality of motherhood, ‘behind the scenes’. But MOLOs couldn’t be distracted too much from their responsibilities, as they shared the highs and lows of parenting young children. Like Granny Babies, beautifully shared in March by Candi, and which was a stand-out moment of sheer parenting competence.
Temperatures started to rise in, as well as out, and as we hit May, Gemma shared an lovely example of her daughter’s future career as a hairdresser (see below picture!)
Excitingly though, on 3rd June not only did we celebrate our first birthday, and hold The Motherload® Awards for the first time, but we also launched our brilliant WEBSITE. Full of brilliant, witty, real blogs written by MOLOs, for MOLOs, and supporting members of The Motherload® who run businesses through our Store & Directory. Given that only one of us at the time knew how to possibly build a website, this was a steep learning curve but the launch was enormously successful with over 10,000 unique visits on our first night alone. We’d done it! It was time for a little lie down. (oh shit, no, hang on. We’ve got kids, duh.)
By now, we had 4,500 members on the Facebook group, 1,000 registered users on the site, and a steady stream of 19,000 unique users on our website every month, reading brilliant blogs and using our fabulous Directory and Store. After a number of threads in the group about gift ideas for new mums, Hannah wrote a fabulous blog about What New Mums Really Need (honestly, give it a read. It’s brilliant) because let’s face it, we want wine miniatures, not herbal teas. And lots of dry shampoo.
By the end of June, we found ourselves getting ready for life outside the EU. This was big news. Like everyone in the run up to the referendum, we had strong feelings about it, and even stronger feelings about the result. As mothers, many of us had voted with the futures of our children in mind, so three MOLOs wrote “Dear Kids, Today We Decided to Leave the EU“. But of course, not everyone voted ‘remain’ and it was Emma Dunn’s blog, explaining to her children why she voted ‘leave’ which went viral; she voted with her conscience, and was stunned by the hate directed at those who had voted for Brexit.
By the summer, the group had hit the 6,000 mark and we were growing stronger and stronger by the week. We celebrated the summer holidays by joyously extolling the virtues of our children being at home for SIX LONG WEEKS and Hayley shared her tips for dressing up.. well, dressing your baby up, anyway, with this super Ewok outfit for her son.
As the group grew, it was time for us to clarify a few special ‘terms’ that had been frequented on the group for our new members. And so the MOLO Lexicon was born, with gems such as Twatbadger, Gunt, and Fanny Daggers, this was a KEY guide for any MOLO worth her Spanx.
The frank and honest nature of our blogs and group mean that there are really no topics off-bounds, and so discussions range from our toddlers finding sex toys and thinking they are super little jewellery stands (note that this one is anon, for fear of the poster’s fellow school gate mums knowing!)
Vanessa shared her top tip for surviving a case of the Vesuvius voms – grab baby and a G&T, get in the empty bath, and lie back and think of… well, sipping your G&T until the inevitable happens. And in the same helpful vein, Caroline gave us some sensible advice on transporting the holiday booze home safely – by using a trusty nappy! Just wrap that precious cargo up and you’ll be good for ferry and beyond.
MOLOs are never short of advice, and on a more serious note, how to feed your baby is one of our most talked about topics, unsurprisingly. From boobing to BLWing, we have an opinion on it all and are ready with supportive tips and non-judgemental advice on all fronts. Talking of fronts, expressing breastmilk is probably one of the least amusing moments of motherhood as the electric milker grunts like a scene from Animal Farm, but Heather wrote this brilliantly funny blog about the 10 Unwritten Rules of Expressing Boob Juice and if you have, want to, or maybe will express, this is prime feeding fodder for you. On the group, we extolled the virtues of both methods of feeding, but the convenience of breastfeeding was really pushed to the limits with a post from Katherine who had slipped over, only to find that her baby saw this as a perfect opportunity for an unauthorised breastfeed!
As everyone either went on holiday, came back from holiday, or had an ‘at-home’ holiday, Charlotte shared her lovely moment that day when another mum had been so supportive when she was out and about with her son, who had a feeding tube in situ. Constantly affected by uncomfortable stares and whispers, Charlotte’s post was incredibly touching when she shared that a mum had declared her son a little superhero, and had explained frankly, but positively to her own daughter what the pipes were for.
As August drew to a close, it was a close shave for Olivia’s husband as his eye ointment tube looked exactly the same as her Canesten – at least her vag can now see, and his eye won’t be subject to thrush any time soon – and Samantha shared the most gorgeous photo of her breastfeeding her baby whilst in her wedding dress, looking super glam on her special day, but capturing a perfect moment between her and her son.
By the time we got to September though, a sudden boost from Facebook meant that our group grew spectacularly from a comfortable 6k to 10k in just a matter of a 3 weeks. Member requests went a bit bonkers, and the team struggled to cope. Despite our many amusingly written guidelines (if I do say so myself), we found ourselves experiencing a different tone on the group for the first time as more judgemental posts started to creep in. Those members should have taken the time to read Laura’s brilliant piece encouraging us all to Stop The Judging, or maybe Anna-Belle’s piece about the ‘Perfect Parent’ would have resonated more, because let’s face it, what we judge today could be our saviour tomorrow.
Relationships are also a hot-topic on The Motherload®, and the compromise of marriage is often debated. We all have mini silent battles within our homes with our other halves, and Gemma’s Loo Roll Tower was a prime example. For nearly three weeks, she and her partner were locked in a silent battle of the empty loo roll – he opting to stack them on the toilet rather than throw them away, and she choosing to allow the tower to grow to epic proportions before finally, her partner caved and threw them away. RESULT.
Oversharing is a regular brilliance on the group and our blog, and in 2016, MOLOs didn’t disappoint. The team’s eyes were eye-wateringly opened with our first ever Friday Night Bum-sex thread as the dark evenings started to draw in during October. We had a very insightful discussion into the antics of a gay sauna, poo-crumbs (don’t ask), and in the spirit of openness and honesty, and all that jazz, I shared my tale of shitty woe in ‘I Pooed Myself In Labour‘, which is exactly as it says on the tin. Only much, much worse than your imagination allows.
Mums Nights Out are a rare treat, and so our MOLOs often are to be found on the sofa of an eve, glass of wine in hand, dreaming of Prosecco trucks and wine on tap. But on those rare occasions we get to bust out the Spanx and a pair of heels we can’t walk in, we are OUT OUT and it’s basically Game On, as beautifully retold by Samantha in her blog ‘Mum’s Night Out’. Of course the pay-off for all of this fun is the dreaded Mum Hangover – much, much more brutal than a Dad Hangover (let’s face it, they get WAY more practice) as Alison brilliantly detailed in her fabulous Dad Versus Mum series. And don’t even ask for a Lie In, because when you are a mum that is as elusive as a bloody unicorn. Even the image on that blog sums up the reality so well; Mum having her ‘lie in’ with eyes wide open, kids climbing all over the bed. Eyeroll.
Speaking of Going Out, we launched MOLO Mates, a place to hook up with fellow, like-minded women, who also happen to be mothers. There’s nothing worse than clutching a lukewarm tea in a polystyrene cup to your chest while you desperately hope to make a ‘Mum Friend’ and so, with so many MOLOs in the same boat, we wanted a space to help MOLOs meet up, make friends and feel less alone. We now have over 300 MOLOs signed up, and recently have seen our first meet ups happen in Staffordshire, London, and Kent. This growing community is so exciting, as we bring The Motherload® to our members in Real Life. If you fancy joining, in, you can register HERE and get going!
With Autumn here, we were all tempted to get out and about with our toddlers but that came with it’s own limitations. When we say limitations, we mean Actual Hell, but you know, we love the little buggers and so we try and focus on the ‘joy’. Amber hilariously reminded us of this in her brilliant blog, Out and About, Baby versus Toddler and reminding us of just how easy it was when they were tiny. Don’t even attempt the highchair, for gods sake.
October, however, also brings rainy days, and many a MOLO found themselves with cabin fevered children who, by their very nature, love to trash the house when caged like pacing tigers. Melissa shared one such example, when she had briefly checked into The Motherload®, only to return to a full scale TORNADO in her living room. Only joking! Her son just got a few things out. HOW DO THEY DO IT?
It was also this month that we first heard from Karen, who shared her journey to adopting her lovely twins, and finally completing her family. Many MOLOs have followed her story from going through the intrusive process to finally bringing her children home, and settling into family life. Adoption was also a big topic on the blog, and Libby blogged about the various questions and situations that adopted parents face, including when to tell your children that they are adopted. When many of us haven’t experienced this, both Libby and Karen’s open, and honest accounts really helped us to understand the adoption process.
Towards the end of October though, things took a turn for the worse on the group, and after another influx, we closed the group temporarily after a number of judgemental posters had affected the atmosphere of our lovely community. Doing so though turned out to be one of the most positive moments for The Motherload®, as we regrouped, set in the approval post system, brought on a fabulous larger team of moderators and reopened, emboldened with gin, ready to get our group back on track, brighter than ever. And MOLOs came together and gave us some brilliant posts to reset the group with, some lovely birth announcements, and some fabulously supportive posts – and #Don’tBeADick was born.
Members of The Motherload® often feel that our group is a safe place to discuss difficult times in their lives, including relationships blighted by domestic violence. Time and time again, we see MOLOs reaching out to each other, offering sanctuary, advice, funds and more to help another mother in distress. We are always amazed by the generosity of our members as they reach out to another MOLO and really making #NoMoloFliesSolo the heartbeat of our community.
Christmas preparations came early to The Motherload® but finally in November, we were all in the spirit and cracking open the Baileys alongside our evening wine. Although that plan didn’t go too well for Sarah, who asked her friend Michelle to grab an ice cube from the freezer as she topped up that lovely Irish Cream. Perhaps Michelle was already half cut, but Sarah got a certain shock when she looked down to find a frozen portion of pureed spinach in her glass. One of her five a day?
Our MOLO Night Out in London was in full preparation and so we were delighted to read Gemma’s timely blog, Five Beauty Products to Help You Look Less Knackered. Every mum wants to know how not to look like a sack of crap when she’s averaged four hours sleep a night for the last year. Film and TV make-up artist Gemma Waugh is our MOLO Beauty Guru, and she’s funny, with great advice.
From October we shared Kerry’s birth story and subsequent treatment and care of her darling Bella, who was born prematurely after pre-eclampsia struck. Bella has gone from strength to strength, showing her fighting spirit throughout and we have loved following her growth and brave story through the last few weeks – as well as Kerry’s touchingly beautifully written updates about her gorgeous little girl.
Meanwhile, the uber-talented Riona, one of our original MOLOs, and member of our blogger team sent in this utterly brilliant video, The Bright Side. Filthy and funny, this is now a celebrated MOLO anthem, and we were squealing with delight for Riona when it was shared by none other than Queen Constance Hall. In fact, we are still squealing!
As we all started putting up our Christmas trees, and letting the kids go mad with a load of tinsel we finally hit December and had our MOLO Christmas party in London on the 3 December. We had an AMAZING night, with so many fabulous MOLOs who became brilliant friends that night! Lyndsey shared the trials and tribulations of her bonkers son, Cooper, to the delight of many members, and we were first introduced to Janet, possibly the most fictionally judgemental woman, but everyone knows a Janet at their baby group, or clinic, or just passing by in the supermarket. #fuckoffJanet became a regular, well versed addition to many a thread as MOLOs rallied against the judgement that many of us experience every day as Mums, as everyone and their bloody dog proffers an opinion on our parenting style. And Rachael shared her brilliant blog, 12 Christmas Let-downs which resonated with us all battling with organising a poncetastic Christmas for our families (and it’s actually the gift that keeps giving because there’s something in there for New Year too!) when the realisation hits that it’s not fucking enjoyable to be doing this as an adult, and you look like a dick in your mohair Christmas jumper.
Finally, and excitingly, we are amazed to announce that as of today, we have hit 16,000 MOLOs on our group. Last New Year’s Eve we celebrated reaching 1,000 MOLOs and we are astounded by the consistent growth throughout the year. We have worked on a recommendation for the best part of it, and so we are very proud to have a community of such supportive, non-judgemental women, who come together to help those in need, and will laugh at the mistakes, the carnage and the joy of motherhood with us.
We wish to thank all of our fantastic MOLOs, writers, contributors, Store partners, supporters, HQ team and moderators for their hard work and contributions over the last twelve months. We have so much more to bring you over the next year, and can’t wait to get started. But to all of you, we wish you all a very happy new year, and look forward to seeing you on the other side, with an enormous hangover tomorrow, as we kick off 2017! What a year 2016 has been!
Happy New Year!
About Kate Dyson
Founder of The Motherload®. Wife, mum to two girls, two cats and shit loads of washing in baskets that sit around the house waiting to be ironed. It never happens.
Hater of exercise, denier of weight gain, lover of wine. Feminist.
About Alison McGarragh-Murphy
Alison writes and edits stuff for The Motherload®, and is also a radio producer and broadcast journalist, a mum of two and a wife of one. Since becoming a mother she has (mostly) gladly swapped a busy social life of gigs, pubs, art galleries and museums for dancing in the kitchen, drinking on the sofa, finger painting and hanging out at the park. She talks incessantly about not having slept for four years.