If  you are a mom in Central Charlotte, it’s likely that you are a member, or know a member, of Charlotte Mom to Mom Exchange (also known as M2M). M2M is so much more than a collection of  Facebook “marketplace” pages. Although you can buy and sell pretty much any thing you could ever need on these pages. From baby gear to children’s clothes; to draperies for your master bedroom, or lamps for your end tables, Mom 2 Mom has it all…sold by and purchased by local moms, moms’ friends or moms-to-be. But M2M has become so much more than just a buying and selling site for Charlotte women…it has grown into an amazing community. Yes, there are buy/sell pages, but there are also “Talk” pages; safe places to ask questions, share stories and give/get advice. The Mom to Mom community is strong. The Mom to Mom pages are “closed” groups and have a waiting list, but definitely put your name on that list…it’s worth the wait! Links to many of the pages can be found at the end of the article.

About a year ago, Charlotte moms, Rebecca Penaloza and Anna Luckadoo started the M2M pages on Facebook when word spread that the MICit (Moms in Charge) pages would be phased out. We reached out to these fabulous moms to learn their story, and what M2M has meant to them over the last 12 months. I was blown away by their honesty, authenticity and just all around awesomeness.

Photo by: Christina L. on M2M – Home Goods

Here is what Rebecca had to say…

Why did you start M2M?

Phew! That’s a long story! The biggest reason was a deep need for community. A year ago, I was a new mom, in a new city, without nearby family, without the career which had defined my purpose, and a daughter who had just been diagnosed with hearing loss. To say I felt alone and lost is an understatement.
       There are a lot of mom groups out there—and a ton in Charlotte—but they all seemed focused around the admin’s or creator’s vision. After learning one of our favorite groups would soon undergo some major changes, Michelle (who I didn’t even know until we started talking that day) and I realized something: none of the groups we were in felt purely member-focused.
       Anna wrote to me that first day asking if I wanted help. I think my exact words were, “uh, heck yeah!” From that moment, we were a team. I may have clicked “create group”, but the spirit of moms helping moms was born that day.
       We saw an opportunity to create a mom community that ran almost solely on the needs and requests of the membership and Charlotte Mom-to- Mom Exchange was born. We envisioned a group that wasn’t just about buying or selling, but about finding a real connection with other moms. We wanted to exchange more than goods. We wanted to exchange friendship, collaboration, love, understanding, and support.
       We were all young moms, previously had careers, and were learning how to navigate the life of a stay-at- home parent. Mom life can be exceptionally isolating. It’s a real switch from the autonomy and freedom of pre-baby life. The ability to pour out our needs and frustrations, have so many others echo the same feelings, and have seasoned moms offer support has been invaluable. It takes a village, and we decided to build ours.

Photo by Heidi N. on M2M BST – Baby & Maternity

What has been the most surprising/exciting for you?

       Can I pick two things? For me personally, in my own life, my most favorite outcome has been a friendship I never knew I needed. Anna’s been the yin to my yang, the bad cop to my good cop,and the hardest working admin of our whole team.

When we face a challenge or need to toss around ideas, she’s the first person I talk to—whether it’s about the group or my own life. She’s passionate, devoted to the ends of the earth, and the perfect amount of crazy to balance out my hyper-rational personality.

       The best group moments are when a mom comes to the group with a vision and we band together to make it happen. We’ve had moms gather donations for everything from blankets and books for NICU babies and their families, to a full house of furniture and decor for a family in a shelter, to breast milk donations for newly adopted infants.

That’s when I’m the most proud of what our group can do. You see the true colors and enormous hearts of the women in the group. You see a bunch of practically strangers (though we are all friends of friends) join forces and really feel like a family.

What has been the most challenging?

The most challenging aspect has been limiting the size of the groups. We want to preserve a semi-intimate feel. Everyone is a friend of a friend. We suggested early on to only invite those you’d trust in your own home—and that’s still a great way to look at it. There’s a vulnerability to motherhood and a necessity to build a community of trust. We don’t want to be the largest or most famous group; we want to be our members’ favorite mom group.

Photo by: Mary I. on M2M BST – Kids

Any future plans for the group?

 We will always be member-driven, so if our team gets repeated requests for new groups, changes to the rules, or anything else—we listen. The biggest challenge for the future will be sustaining the admin team. It’s not the hardest job, but it can be frustrating. Thankfully, we have the best members. Truly. There isn’t a single day that passes without a thank you note in my inbox. Most of the time for no particular reason—just a friendly note. It’s a good feeling when a mom sends a love note just because and it definitely keeps us going!

 

Links to some M2M pages (or search Facebook for M2M):