While they say “it takes a village” when it comes to raising children, in the age of social media it can seem like there’s an endless supply of village idiots, with critics lurking behind computer screens everywhere, ready to pounce. Facebook pages like Scary Mommy and mom.me were created as forums for mothers to seek advice and share stories from the trenches of parenthood, but often the pages turn into hostile environments where moms come under attack and are left feeling like they’re dooming their children to a lifetime of psychotherapy. Go ahead, just ask a loaded question like, “Should I vaccinate my child?” BAM! You won’t know what hit you.
Enter: Bad Moms of Truckee/Tahoe.
In 2016, Fawn Mansoor and friends, Mariah Patel and Heidi Foehr, recognized that it was impossible to find an online forum where it was safe and acceptable to ask questions and get honest, level-headed advice without being bombarded by opinionated and judgmental internet trolls from all corners of the world. So, they set out to provide a place where local moms could turn to ask burning questions, vent about life, get a good laugh, and most of all, be there for one another.
“We wanted people to relax and be able to post a funny comment without being judged,” said Mansoor. “Having a sense of humor is what’s going to get us through this.”
Although both Patel and Foehr have since moved away, three years later, Mansoor remains and Bad Moms has become all that and more, transcending from behind handheld screens to real life, with complete strangers coming together and finding lasting friendships.
The invite-only group is now 584 members strong. It is a place where first-time mothers get advice from seasoned veterans, and seasoned moms can laugh about their parenting experiences and know they’ve made it through alive.
“We all do things differently, and that’s fine,” Mansoor said, noting that what it comes down to is showing each other respect while finding humor in the adventure of parenting. “We’re always going, going, going. We’re stressed out as it is. [Bad Moms] lightens up parenthood.”
In fact, Mansoor says humor is one of the top components of the group. Women like Kristin Henry, known to many as preschool director/youth coordinator for the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District, share the comedic and sometimes mortifying side of mothering. Henry’s 5-year-old daughter, Graci, wise and witty beyond her years, provides an endless supply of hilarious fodder, the likes of which is sitcom worthy.
There was the time Henry — laughingly known to fellow Bad Moms as “Sparkles,” based on a love of all things glitter — told her daughter she needs to take more responsibility for her own belongings, to which little Graci replied, “Mama, let’s discuss boundaries over dinner.” And the time the precocious kindergartener decided to share her unsolicited feedback with a total stranger in Raley’s: “I’m sorry, but I don’t like people who don’t follow the rules. You’re eating AND wearing ski boots in the store.” Of course, there are also words of wisdom: “Mama, if a rattler says ‘shh, shh!’ at you with his tail, then it means he wants alone time. If he goes left, then you should go right.”
Henry recalls how “incredibly isolating” it was, moving to Truckee 16 years ago, nine months pregnant and with a 2-and-a-half-year-old, and not knowing a soul. “I struggled to find my mama tribe,” she said, noting that a group such as Bad Moms didn’t exist back then. She feels protective of new families, specifically new mothers. “I’ve self-assigned myself comic-relief to make sure other mamas feel welcome and also stop beating themselves up. As a mama to a senior, a freshman, and a kindergartener, hilarity often ensues.”
Since members are all from the surrounding area, people began recognizing faces that went with the names they’d see on the Bad Moms page. “People started building relationships online and those seeped into real life,” said Mansoor.
About a year in, the group decided to hold a Bad Moms Night Out at Truckee’s Old Town Tap. Only about half the people who showed up actually knew each other offline, but the night resulted in lasting real-life friendships with people who otherwise may never have met. Some of the women’s husbands have even made new dad friends.
As well as being a community builder, the Bad Moms forum will sometimes be more profound than, “How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?” There’s an element of trust among these women that offers a place where they feel comfortable venting about family, asking for help, and talking about more compelling issues, like mental health. Some members are mom-preneurs, who run home-based businesses that afford them the ability to be stay-at-home-working-mothers. Mansoor has even fielded a number of questions from members who wished to remain anonymous, like recommendations for divorce attorneys.
“I appreciate the trust and that people come to me,” said Mansoor, teased by friends as “Mayor of the Moms.”
When a Bad Mom put out a call for help because she was sick but needed to pick up a child’s birthday cake in Reno, another mother was on a Reno-run when she saw the post and kindly delivered. The two had never met. In a place where most people moved from elsewhere, many don’t have family nearby to lend a hand. The Bad Moms have stepped in to fill the void.
“Once one mom needs something, everyone jumps in,” said Christina Temple, who moved to Truckee from the Santa Cruz mountains in 2017.
The type of person who likes to be involved in her community, Temple started searching for Facebook groups prior to moving. A mother from another local group reached out to her via private message and invited her to join Bad Moms. It proved to be a valuable resource for her family’s transition.
“It was scary to move up here when I didn’t know a soul,” she recalled. “A lot of people remember being a transplant. I started to learn the ‘Truckee way.’”
Temple, who suffers from the debilitating pain of fibromyalgia, once put out to the group her own call for help with some work around the house. “Every woman that showed up to my house I hadn’t met, except one,” said Temple, who relocated in time for winter. When even the long-timers started complaining about the amount of snow, she found comfort knowing she wasn’t alone. “Without the Bad Moms, I don’t think we’d still be in Truckee.”