Krissa De Pass, a Trinidadian mother living in New York, understands that “it takes a village” to raise children. But being so far from home and family made her want to make the process just a little easier. For first-time mothers, mom veterans, those living far away and those right around the corner, motherhood comes with a lot of questions, and very little definitive answers. But Caribbean Mummies is here to change that.
XX: SO.. WHAT EXACTLY IS CARIBBEAN MUMMIES?
KDP: Caribbean Mummies is an online support community for mothers that were born in the Caribbean. The discussions take place on a private message platform so that mothers are comfortable to ask their questions in a safe space.
Anybody is welcomed but all mothers are required to fill out an application form. While there is the option to send anonymous questions in extreme situations, all members are encouraged to sign their name as well as their childrens’ names and ages. This is done to foster a nurturing and supportive environment.
Some ideas of topics that have been discussed in the past:
My baby is not latching and I’m trying everything.
I’ve returned to work and am having trouble finding balance and can’t stop feeling guilty.
My child is not sleeping through the night and I’m at my wit’s end.
XX: HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM FACEBOOK/WHATSAPP?
KDP: While they all have the ability to hold private conversations, I prefer the user functionality of this platform. As a busy mother of two, I have a lot of trouble keeping up in my Whatsapp groups. I find myself scrolling through conversations to try to catch up and sometimes it’s just too late. Many times I miss conversations completely or if I want to search historically for advice someone gave me, it’s very difficult.
With Caribbean Mummies, conversations are hash tagged by category and the keyword search is extremely accurate so searching through historical conversations is much easier than Facebook.
XX: WHY DID YOU START IT IN THE FIRST PLACE?
KDP: My family in Trinidad is very close and also very large so I always thought that when I had children I would have lots of women to turn to for advice. I was the first in my family as well as my groups of friends to have children.
I love my family so much, but there were times when my mother/aunts/grandmother’s advice either didn’t exist because “girl, that was sooo long ago, it’s all a blur” or I realized my own parenting philosophy was in some ways generationally different.
I found myself searching for answers online desperately trying to find another mother that might have advice related to what I was looking for. Unfortunately searching the internet can sometimes be like opening up Pandora’s box. Have you ever googled sick symptoms for yourself before? I spent many late nights freaking out that my child had some serious disease!
1-2 years later, my own friends started asking me many of the same questions that I had and I started to realize that there was a need for something like this. Advice from a group of women that you can trust.
Living abroad I constantly struggle to figure out how I can give back to the country that I was raised in. There are many other Caribbean born mothers like myself that live abroad and want to be connected to mothers in the country that they were born.
When I was in secondary school in Trinidad, we did a Young Leaders project titled “Mothers don’t come in Barrels”, which highlighted Caribbean Mothers that lived abroad so that they could send money/clothes/food back for their children in the Caribbean. I hope that this group can reach and help some of those Moms and also any Moms that ever feel alone.
Locally, there are also many mothers that want to connect with mothers away to hear the latest advice. At the end of the day all mothers are going through similar situations. I felt that this was a positive way to use technology to create a Caribbean community online that supports one another.
XX: WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT BEING A MOTHER?
KDP: The guilt and worry, for sure!
XX: YOU LIVE QUITE FAR FROM BOTH YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND’S FAMILIES. HOW IS IT NOT HAVING YOUR MOM OR IN-LAWS FOR HELP WHENEVER YOU NEED IT?
KDP: This is one of the reasons that I created Caribbean Mummies. It’s a way for mothers living abroad to connect and get support and advice. I also joined a local support group where I live and have many more friends with children now. In some ways I prefer it because my husband and I can raise our children exactly as we want to. However I certainly love and accept the help when I head home for vacation!
XX: HOW MANY MEMBERS/USERS HAS CM HAD SO FAR AND WHAT’S THE RESPONSE BEEN?
KDP: So far about 100. Honestly I’m constantly striving for that balance with my kids and my personal life so I haven’t made a real effort to make people aware of the platform. The response has been mostly positive but I always welcome feedback.
XX: WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL FOR CARIBBEAN MUMMIES?
KDP: Goals constantly change but my short term goal is to increase the number of members because the more mothers that ask questions and give advice, the more info there is for future members of the community.
All of the conversations are stored and hash tagged so future mothers can easily search through historical conversations. That way when I tell my own children “girl I don’t remember it was so long ago”, they will have somewhere to turn to.
XX: WHAT’S SOMETHING THAT CM HAS ACHIEVED SO FAR?
KDP: Caribbean Mummies as a group, in coordination with Robin Ramdeen – who’s a Trini who works at the Waitt Institute, we raised $20,000US for families in Barbuda that were devastated by Hurricane Irma!
XX: WHAT’S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO A NEW/EXPECTANT MOTHER?
KDP: Make sure to take a break from the baby for yourself, even if it’s just a walk around the block daily.
XX: WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE SOMEONE’S GIVEN YOU AS A MOM?
KDP: Stop feeling guilty for everything!