Founder of Not Safe For Mom Group (NSFMG)
Mom of two boys
Alexis Barad-Cutler is the founder of Not Safe For Mom Group (NSFMG), a writer, and a published children’s book author.
She is known in the digital motherhood and parenting space for her often raw and honest writing style. Her work has been featured in sites such as Mindr, Beyond Mom, Romper, Fatherly, Hey Mama, and Well Rounded — among other places that cater to the parenting set.
Since the launch of NSFMG, she has opened up a much needed dialogue that moms have been craving — bringing to light topics that women have not been given the opportunities, or permission to share. She hopes to continue to grow this wonderful community, where women can express their unfiltered feelings and experiences around motherhood — and ultimately, find the power in their own storytelling.
You can follow her life in Brooklyn as a mama to two lovely brothers at @alexisbaradcutler.
One of our favorite quotes from Alexis is, "When we speak about motherhood stories and vulnerabilities aloud - we reaffirm the feeling that we are not alone in this motherhood shit."
The Returnity Project: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you started with NSFMG (Not Safe For Mom Group).
Alexis Barad: I’m a writer, wife, and mom of two boys; and have been creating content for parenting and mom-centric websites for a number of years. I’m also a published children’s book author (my former career was as a children’s book editor and publisher.)
I’ve been writing personal narrative type essays for as long as I can remember. I started performing personal narrative and memoir in my ‘20s, when I started a live storytelling show in the East Village, with a group of writers and comedians. When I became pregnant with my first, writing honestly about my experiences felt like just a continuation of what I was doing. But it was the first time I submitted my experiences to digital magazines.
NSFMG is part of a movement among motherhood communities to start changing the narrative of motherhood away from Instagram perfection, and to reflect things that are more honest, raw, and real. I see what I’ve created as an opportunity to bring in all kinds of voices and stories of motherhood. NSFMG is a confessional writing space and a meeting place for mothers -- where they can feel the healing effects that storytelling has and the community that happens when you share your story with others.
TRP: What inspired you to create NSFMG, and what gave you the courage to share such real and authentic dialogue?
AB: Within the digital parenting community, my voice was recognized as one that was pretty uncensored and didn’t shy away from the tougher topics of motherhood. As a lifelong oversharer in my writing and performing, it just felt good to be able to show other mothers that their experiences or feelings weren’t strange or singular.
People who read my work would write to me and tell me how much better they felt after reading something I’d written, because no one had ever said what I had said out loud before to them -- but they had been feeling the same thing. But the moment that made me decide to create NSFMG was when something I had written for a well-known mother-centric website was pulled for being “controversial”, but without much explanation or apology to me.
First I was hurt, and then I was angry. Those feelings aren’t very helpful, of course. My friends kept on telling me to do my own thing, and launch my own site. I’d been writing and creating content for so long, it was kind of like a, “Why haven’t I had the guts to do this yet?” moment. Of course, the site has evolved a lot since it first was conceived.
TRP: You recently held an event at The Motherhood Center in New York with over 40 women, where they all talked about mental health, their sex lives, their feelings about their postpartum bodies, and deep-rooted biases they experienced in the workplace. What do you think inspires these women to open up and talk about their experiences?
AB: I think, as an organizer, I make it really clear that the intention of the evening is to share, and that the space is one in which they will not be judged. But you can’t just come out of nowhere, as a stranger, and ask people to tell you their secrets. You have to build a trust. I’ve been fortunate to have earned the trust of the people that come to my events and the talks that I have hosted so far. As the host of my site, I receive over 100 “confessions” on some days, from women all over the world.
The other thing that has to happen is, someone has to go first. Sometimes I share something intimate about my experiences, or someone in the audience is just ready to get out there and get something off their chest, which sets off a domino effect in the crowd. This happened at our last event with Pom Pom Social, in December. I think people are holding feelings in for so long that all they need sometimes is an invitation into a space for sharing, and once given permission to do so, the floodgates will open.
TRP: Are there common themes/struggles you see specifically with the topic of returning to work after maternity leave?
AB: Yes. Guilt is probably number one -- so much guilt about leaving kids, and transitioning back from this cocoon of motherhood and back into a workplace that has no idea about the rollercoaster you just got off of. Another big one is managing the workload with all the regular household things that you’re also responsible for -- which, for a lot of women, does not seem to lighten, after they leave the house and return to work. Also, the way that workplaces do not make it easy for women to transition back into the office -- the lack of adequate places to pump, or even an understanding of the time it takes to pump, and all the judgement (real or perceived) women have of the motherhood and how that impacts their ability to be good workers.
TRP: Many of the stories we’ve share on The Returnity Project focus on both the challenges and beautiful moments of motherhood, specifically the return to work. What was the return to work like for you?
AB: As a freelancer, I was lucky in that I was able to orchestrate my own re-entry process. I didn’t have anyone telling me when I had to go back to work, per-se. I did, however, feel a self-inflicted pressure to work. I was doing freelance projects within my first week of having given birth, days after coming home from the hospital with a c-section. With my first son, I had a rough transition to motherhood, so I often sought out work so I could get away from my duties at home. I hired a nanny very early on, so that I could work part time during the week on for-hire projects.
TRP: What advice would you give to other working moms on how to cope with these challenges?
AB: I feel ill-equipped to give advice on the work/life balance transition, except to say to not do what I did, which was run away from my problems. Even though I have always loved working, I wish I had understood why I was desperate to get away from home, and my baby, when I had my first son. There were a lot of wonderful moments that I missed out on, that I didn’t have to miss out on. I was struggling a lot back then.
Now, I work almost full-time. I feel the guilt sometimes, but for the most part, working fills me with so much satisfaction, that I know I am a better mother when I come home. I come home ready to be fully “in” with my boys, and they get all of me when I am there. I have figured out how I function best, and it is definitely when I am feeling engaged in my work and part of a community, creating something. When I come home at the end of the day, we play and I don’t look at my phone, and I am completely present. So I guess the advice would be, try to find what makes you the best version of you.
TRP: What are you most proud of?
AB: My sons, my marriage, and how I’ve helped mothers feel better about themselves through my work.
TRP: Anything else you want to share?
AB: I have two exciting events coming up in New York! One is on January 24th, at The Hoxton Hotel in Williamsburg, focusing on the topic of loneliness in motherhood: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/loneliness-in-motherhood-tickets-53915016265?aff=ebdshpsearchautocomplete
And the next one is on January 29th, in collaboration with, and located at The Motherhood Center; centered around the topic of the mental load and how we can get our partners to hear us, and see us for all that we do as mothers:
I’m so grateful for communities like ours that are making mothers’ lives better and healthier, and that are changing the tired narrative of what it means to be a mother into something more aligned with a much more complicated and nuanced reality.
Founder of Not Safe For Mom Group (NSFMG)
Visit their website and IG to learn more about NSFMG