It’s quite possibly the world’s toughest job, yet its workers rarely get the credit of those in other professions.
But one Sammamish woman is devoting her career to making sure that mothers – the people who are responsible for raising the next generation of Americans – are given the support that they deserve.
This spring, Leanne Kabat – owner of MamaCon, a business dedicated to giving seminars to mothers and families – started a campaign called Mama2Mama to help 50 mothers in 50 days. The campaign culminated with the annual MamaCon Signature Event on April 29 at the Bellevue Hilton.
“I launched Mama2Mama after meeting a mom … in dire straits,” Kabat explained. After Kabat helped the woman to come up with a list of possible solutions for her problems, the woman told Kabat, “I think you should do this more.”
Kabat took the advice to heart and filmed a Facebook video in which she offered to help mothers with anything they needed help with for the next 50 days. The video has received over 5,000 views, and Kabat began receiving calls from mothers in need as far away as California, Toronto and even Australia.
Kabat, who herself is a mother of three, explained that most of what the mothers were experiencing was simply feeling overwhelmed by the enormous amount of day-to-day pressures piled on them. There is a societal stigma, she said, that makes mothers feel as though they are failures if they need to ask for help.
“Sometimes they just get stuck and they need a new perspective … It’s a universal mom problem that you don’t want to call your friend and say, ‘I can’t do it,’ because there is shame in that you can’t do it all,” she said. “To have a friendly face … that connection, was a lifeline. That’s what they desperately need, is to not feel alone on their journey.”
Kabat helped the mothers with everything from learning how to cook a pork Schnitzel to cleaning out a closet to training for a 5k run. The tasks may seem simple, but for a mother feeling stressed and alone, they represented a hurdle.
“It wasn’t really about making Schnitzel, it wasn’t really about running a 5k, it was about, ‘Can you connect with me?’” Kabat explained.
Distance made no difference in who received help; Kabat was able to help moms living in other states, countries and continents through Skype or over the phone.
For many of the mothers, the loneliness came from having moved to a new location for their husbands’ jobs. Being away from friends and family in a completely new place with a husband away at work all day created an environment that led to feelings of isolation and sadness.
Kabat herself has undergone a similar experience. She moved to Washington from Ottawa, Canada, leaving behind all of her loved ones. As if that were not difficult enough, Kabat was diagnosed with an alarming medical condition and given five years to live.
“I decided … I could wait for the end to come, or I could fill it to the brim,” Kabat said. “I can be my own bright light in the world. I can shine for other people.”
In that way, she said, “Being told I’m dying was a gift.”
And always one to grab life by the horns, Kabat has defied the odds. This fall, she will mark the 10-year anniversary of her diagnosis. It’s an event that will be celebrated through MamaCon at the Nov. 4 “Fall Taste of MamaCon.”
MamaCon holds events three times per year for mothers to get answers to their questions from parenting experts, as well as build friendships and support networks by connecting with one another. The Signature MamaCon Event saw many of the mothers who had been helped during the 50 days meeting one another and forming lifelong bonds.
“It isn’t just that I come in to ‘save the day,’ but I give them the opportunity to be brave and meet new people … It was a phenomenal experience,” Kabat said.
Mama2Mama, it turns out, is living far beyond its original 50 days. Kabat is continuing to help the moms who come to her seeking advice. The day after her early May interview, Kabat was going to advise a mother on starting her own photography business.
“That they reached out to a virtual stranger is so brave,” she said, noting that she wants to honor that bravery by helping however she can. After all, MamaCon’s mission statement is, “No mama should mama alone.”
“If you’re doing this on your own, it’s going to be 10 times harder,” Kabat said.