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Hey, mom: Here’s a new way to stay sane

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A Fort Greene mother, who nearly ended up in the psych ward following the birth of her first child, rebounded to launch a new Web site called sanemoms.com to help the newly delivered adjust to the very idea of being a “mom.”

In so doing, Vedder is jumping swollen ankles first into what has become an online mommy industrial complex. It’s a complex that contains dozens of Web sites, targeting everyone from working moms (bluesuitmom.com) to stay-at-home moms (clubmom.com) to breast-feeding moms (breastfeeding.com) to Park Slope moms (parkslopeparents.com).

Vedder’s site focuses on the notion of a mother’s identity.

“Women are very happy to admit foibles and weaknesses, but I don’t see a lot online about how they don’t really know who they are anymore,” said Bethany Vedder, now a mother of two and life coach whose client base is largely stay-at-home mothers.

“I hear the same things over and over again: ‘I have no time for myself,’ ‘I can’t think straight,’ ‘I don’t even know what I want anymore because my kids need me 24/7,’” added Vedder. “It was time to get the conversation moving a bit.”

So far, most of the comments on the site have come from a woman calling herself “comfortabl­ecrazy,” who wrote that having kids “shifted all [her] priorities in [her] marriage.”

“Not that that’s bad, but when you have a baby on your one-year anniversary, it’s hard,” she said. “It played on all my insecurities. … It caused me to look at myself in a different way and I wasn’t sure if I liked what I saw.”

The mother of a 17-month-old and a 5-and-a-half-year-old, Vedder said that she experienced similar emotions and nearly lost her sanity after the birth of her first child.

“It was this feeling that I don’t know how to do this,” said Vedder. “Being a mother wasn’t my dream since I was 3 years old. It just happened.”

And it engendered an identity crisis, an experience she’s since seen replicated with a number of her friends and clients. For some, it’s a sense of guilt that they’re not spending enough time with their children. For others, it’s guilt that they’re spending too much time with their kids and too little on their own pursuits.

Dan McAdams, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, said most women’s self-images are altered by having a child, but he wasn’t so sure about the prevalence of “identity crises.”

“For some people, maybe it is,” said McAdams. “But there isn’t any research that shows that it’s a predictable thing.”

McAdams’s dubiousness was shared by Susan Fox, who founded Park Slope Parents Web site in 2002.

“[Web sites] about parenting on the Internet are so plentiful that it may be hard to gain lots of members in the space,” said Fox. “[But] the bottom line to me is this: anything that supports parenthood and its trials and tribulations is admirable.”

Vedder will officially launch her the site on Dec. 15 with a three-kilometer run in Fort Greene Park (the run is to underscore the importance of activities that allow for “alone time.”)

Run the Moms and Kiddie Race. Fort Greene Park (bounded by DeKalb Avenue, Myrtle Avenues Washington Park and St. Edwards Street), 9 am. Visit www.sanemoms.com for information.
Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

Lynda from Fort Greene says:
How can you offer advice to another woman when you almost ended up in a psych ward following the birth of your first child? You are crazy.
June 22, 2009, 2:39 pm

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