“Hundreds of moms shared their empowering stories of struggle and strength during this time,” said Rabiah Duncan, CEO of The Mommy Grind, a Facebook group launched in 2016 that has over 37,300 members.
Duncan has since turned the Facebook group into a full-time business.
“I wanted to create a safe, supportive, and non-judgmental space for mothers to seek solutions on how to successfully navigate the daily grind in our personal and professional lives,” Duncan added. “I appreciate how Portal is honoring moms and motherly figures on the frontlines of their communities while managing the impossible at work and home.”
Many members of The Mommy Grind are Queens residents, including Brooke Dean of Springfield Gardens. The pandemic has made her realize how much people thrive off human interaction.
“Living in New York City, we often complain about crowds and not having space to move around, but being confined in my home made me realize that people need space not just to breathe, but to simply share with others,” she said.
Dean has also come to the realization that “it’s okay to not be okay.”
“We’re all vulnerable and respond to challenges differently,” she said. “So many people have shared that they’re sad, anxious, afraid, angry, and frustrated by the lockdown.”
Dean said The Mommy Grind offers ways to find harmony in our daily lives.
“Balance is not always possible, so harmony is what I strive for,” she said. “It’s okay to pivot in uncertain times, so connecting with other moms lets me know I’m not alone if I need ideas on how to make our lives flow a little easier.”
When the quarantine began, Dean was already working from home to ensure everyone’s safety, but then her son’s school closed and she faced the challenge of adding homeschooling and parenting to her workday.
“As a single mom managing work, school, parenting, cooking, cleaning, and being a playmate, chef, and nurse, I started to feel the burnout after two weeks,” she said. “I finally opened up to my boss, also a single working mom, and expressed my frustrations in a call that began with breaking down in tears. When she understood and said to make my day work for me, I felt such a sense of relief pour over me.
“I thought that I would be viewed as someone looking for a ‘get out of work free’ pass, but I am so grateful to still have a job that allows me to work from home and provide for my son,” Dean added. “It’s okay to ask for a bit of grace and understanding.”
Duncan says one of the largest challenges group members face is support.
Around twice a year, I ask moms ‘What’s holding you back from reaching your goals?’” she said. “The response is not money or desire, but a lack of support and resources.”
“I have seen how creative we all can be when we want to stay connected,” Dean added. “Virtual reality, virtual play dates, and virtual museum class trips have been a lifesaver as far as making us feel like we’re still part of the world around us. Simple interactions are priceless and help our emotional well-being.”
In these challenging times, Dean feels it is okay to acknowledge anxiety, stress or sadness, but she quickly feels comforted by her blessings.
“We have food and I have a job that allows me to provide for our needs, but mostly we’re able to love each other sheltered in place,” she said. “I don’t know how long this will last, but we’ll get through it stronger than ever. There are always lessons to learn in the face of fear and uncertainty.”