Not everyone’s experience of motherhood is the same, and it doesn’t always look like an Anne Geddes photo. But if you ask Paulina and Bricia Lopez, sisters, new moms, and co-founders of the podcast Super Mamás, that’s totally OK.
The duo found themselves juggling demanding careers (the siblings run the Oaxacan dining destination Guelaguetza in Harvard Heights), personal lives, and child-rearing—and also juggling the competing pressures and traditions of their Mexican heritage and modern Los Angeles lives.
While they knew they couldn’t be the only women trying to strike that particular balance, they didn’t see themselves reflected in the existing media targeting young moms. So, like any good entrepreneurs, they decided to do it themselves.
The show gave them a platform to bring on a diverse group of women to talk frankly about the joys and challenges of parenting, and it found an adoring audience. Episodes address matters from raising bilingual kids and coping with mental illness, to tips for traveling with babies and staying fit.
The popularity of the podcast has spilled over into an in-person gathering, the Super Mamás Social on May 12. It gets the mom squad out for a day of family-friendly celebrations, including a live taping of an episode of the show, and keynote talks by chef and star of the Food Network’s Mexican Made Easy, Marcela Valladolid, and celebrity fashion stylist Monica Rose.
“The Super Mamás Social experience is tough to put into words,” says Paulina Lopez. “It began as a way for us to connect with our listeners in person. At our first event, three years ago, we had no idea whether or not people would show up. When 500 guests showed up we knew we had something much bigger than ourselves.”
Now backed by some pretty big names—Target, Delta Airlines, and Munchkin, Inc.—the social is bigger and more elaborate than ever. They encourage not just moms and tots but whole families to come by. They’ve even rolled out a new Super Papás arcade and lounge space for dads who tag along.
While the Lopez sisters were running around prepping for the event—and Bricia had to run off to present a James Beard Award at the ceremony in Chicago—we spoke with Paulina about how the podcast came to be, what she didn’t know before becoming a mom, and why it’s so important to find your tribe.
What inspired you to share your motherhood journey in the form of a podcast?
When I had my first baby, I fell into a really bad post-partum depression. I felt incredibly lonely because most of my friends didn’t have kids. I decided to join a Mommy and Me group where we would share our experiences and that helped me feel normal. I realized that we were all going through the same struggles.
One of the mommies suggested we should check out a podcast about motherhood, and when I heard it, I really enjoyed it, but I realized that their motherhood experience was very different from mine.
I was born in Oaxaca and living in L.A., so my parenting style was and its still is very different. I have a lot of traditional practices like rubbing an egg on my daughter after a hectic day, as my mom would do to me in Oaxaca. I co-sleep with my children, I pierced their ears at four days old. I felt like my practices were seen as foreign.
I knew that there were more girls out there having the same experience as I was, but that wasn’t reflected in any podcast out there at the time.
Do you find that your cultural background gives you a specific lens on modern parenting?
Definitely. I feel like my parenting is a mix of how I grew up, everything that I’m learning now, and things that I wished were talked about. I am open with my kids. I feel like kids were very underestimated when I was growing up and I want to change that with my kids. I want to give them a voice and make them feel secure.
My culture is a big part of who I am. In my house, what we eat, what we listen to and watch, it’s all influenced by my upbringing. But I also realize my kids are growing up in a totally different culture, so I think they are growing up with an amazing mix of both worlds.
What are some things you have learned that you would share with a new mom now?
I think we always want to give new mothers so much advice! Do this! Don’t do that! There is so much information that it becomes overwhelming at times.
On the other end, I feel like there were a lot of things I wish I knew beforehand, like all the weird things that happen to your body post-partum—how much my nipples would hurt, how my hair would fall off.
Mental health is one of the topics we believe we should all be discussing openly and honestly. No one told me I could become depressed, and it has been such a big struggle for me, but getting help and talking about it has helped so much. I am so inspired to help other women and be an advocate on this subject.
On Super Mamás we have touched on a lot of subjects that are not usually talked about in our Latino community, like miscarriage, domestic violence, finances, and even sex. One in particular was when we brought my own mom on the show. We learned so much from her, things we didn’t know about her when she was a kid and a young woman. The fact that it is now recorded for our kids and grandkids to hear, it’s incredible
How do you manage to pull off all the challenges of being a mom, having a career, taking care of yourself, and getting it all done?
Our culture today is very demanding and as women we have so many pressures to do it all, but the truth is that motherhood is not meant to be done alone. We do not do it all! That is a huge misconception.
We are surrounded by a lot of incredible people that help us accomplish everything that we need to. Our husbands, nannies, teams at work, teachers, siblings, friends that lend us a hand when we need it—I wouldn’t be able to do any of what I do without all of them. I am incredibly thankful to have them in my life.
This is why a tribe is so important. We need to help one another in this crazy ride that is motherhood—and womanhood in general. Our grandmothers, and even some of our mothers, had a whole group of women, tias, abuelas, and neighbors.
Motherhood is hard! We need to help and encourage one another, normalize the fact that we don’t have it all together, and accept that motherhood is messy and whatever our parenting decisions are, they are OK, because they work for us. Making friends as a mom is really hard, and the last thing we need is other moms judging us. We need to create a support system.
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