You're here because you want to be inspired. Because you can't find other women to relate to — online and off. Because you need to know that everything can turn out okay, and you're not the only younger mom out there (even though, when you browse through your Facebook News Feed, it sure feels like it sometimes). Or maybe you just like finding writers with similar stories to your own.
And that's why I started this site — because I was searching for inspiration.
These women inspire me:
1. Rebecca Woolf: "Girl's Gone Child"
Rebecca Woolf, once a commitment-phobic, party-loving, chain-smoking California girl, found herself unexpectedly pregnant at 23 years old, marrying someone she barely knew. And if that sounds like the start of a sad spiral into the typical "young mom" stereotype, then you've never read her blog Girls Gone Child. A Blog of the Year (as awarded by Babble.com) and my #1 favorite blog ever, her loyal readership has followed throughout her 20-something age span — all the way to the present, where she's been married for seven years and has four (incredibly photogenic) children, including two recently born twins.
Rebecca has been, for me, a very consistent source of inspiration — proof that we can keep our styles and our identities (tattoos and all), we can be successful and creative (she wrote a book, she has a gig on HGTV.com), and we can be loving, present mothers. And we might even be able to make a young marriage work, against all odds.
2. Gabrielle Blair: "Design Mom"
I know that a lot of readers came over from Design Mom after she gave me a little shout-out on her blog, so you may already know of Gabby Blaire. That, and she's a powerhouse on these here Interwebs. You might know her for her award-winning design blog, for her new Web series, or because of her many side gigs. Or maybe you've heard of the blogger who packed up her family of eight and moved from Colorado to France for a temporary adventure. She's one of the most successful, innovative bloggers on the Web — a blogger who paved the way for all of us.
And did you know she got married at 21? And started having kids at 23? It's true. And she's proof that there's no limit on success — not as a blogger, not as a mother, and not as a young woman.
3. Meagan Francis: "The Happiest Mom"
Meagan Francis is my kind of person. The kind of person who strives to be her best and her happiest — and to really enjoy her life. And that's exactly what she promotes through her very popular blog, The Happiest Mom. I actually knew about her as a blogger and an author before I knew that she started having kids young (she has 5 kids). And the way I found out was through a post on The New York Times blog called A (Very) Young Mother — in which Meagan writes things like:
"I won't kid you: at 20, my husband and I had a lot of growing up to do, and to some extent we did that growing up alongside our kids. We made mistakes, as do all new parents, though I know our mistakes were watched with a more critical eye. Because of our age, people seemed to expect that we would have a harder time of everything, which is too bad: when everyone expects you to struggle, it's that much harder to succeed."
Meagan could have pulled every sentence in that article from my brain, to the point where I was furiously nodding along like an enthusiastic chimp. And the fact that she uses her work to inspire women — all women, on all points of the motherhood spectrum — to be happier and healthier? Like I said, she's my kind of person. Learn more about Meagan Francis.
4. Rachel Faucett: "Handmade Charlotte"
Rachel started out as a 20-something mom who sold antiques and liked hand-making clothes for her little girls, and now this farm-living mother of 5 is a POWERHOUSE, in all caps. Not only is she behind the mega-popular Handmade Charlotte blog, but she's a clothing designer (recently designing a collection for Anthropologie), a Pinterest pro (follow her!), and she does these awesome 60-second crafts for Babble.com. And having hung out with Rachel, I can honestly say she's as awesome in real life as you hope she is.
5. Brittany Gibbons: "Brittany, Herself" and "The Curvy Girl Guide"
Brittany doesn't go around calling herself a young mom — in fact, much of what she writes isn't about her kids at all. (She's more likely to write about clothes. Or Twilight. Or smut and sinus infections.) But the fact is that she had three kids between the ages of 25 and 28, WHILE building a kick-ass career before the age of 30. Not only does she write an award-winning humor blog (it's funny, you guys; really funny), but she also has a successful online magazine called Curvy Girl Guide, designed to redefine the way curvy women look at their bodies and themselves. (Watch her TED talk, where she talks about how having a daughter ignited a passion to do something about beauty and body acceptance in women. Oh, did I not mention she gave a TED talk? Where she stripped on stage?) She has a successful podcast, she's working on a memoir, she does body-image campaigns with Lands' End (like the time she stood in Times Square on Good Morning America wearing a swimsuit), and word is she has a TV show in the works. And after spending time with her at Camp Mighty, I can say that she's a really cool chick, on top of the accomplishments.
6. Sarah Bryden-Brown: "Blogstar" and "Go Mighty"
If you're a blogger, you might know of Sarah's network of bloggers known as BlogStar — and there's also a good chance that you know her personally, whether through Facebook comments, emails, or conferences. She might be one of the most well connected (and well respected) figures in the blogging community — the thread that connects so many of us. It's through her that I met the majority of my blogging friends and was given pretty much all of my blogging opportunities — but what you don't know is that she was the catalyst that set Early Mama in motion. Just by meeting her.
Rewind three years ago — back when I was an intern at Babble.com, and Sarah was the new VP, and I could count the entire edit team on one hand. Sarah was in the process of moving from Australia, where she sort of pioneered this online media shebang, and it was immediately obvious that she was smart and lovely and knew exactly what she was doing (which she has since proven 100 times over). And I found myself in an edit meeting when the topic of age and parenting came up — and that's when Sarah casually dropped the "I had a child in my early 20s, and here's why I loved it" bomb that exploded in a spectacular firework of happiness. You have to understand: this was back when I was lying about my age — back when I was grasping for any indication that I could still be successful — and here was my indication, sitting next to me. And my brain whispered, I need to know everything about you.
And I clung on to her example, and then found more examples, and more examples, until I thought this needs to be a blog. There needs to be a place where young moms can find inspiration and encouragement to chase their dreams and make things happen, beyond serendipitous meetings.
But enough about me: Sarah is crazy accomplished — she's worked in newspaper and magazines, written two books, and helped transform two start-up Internet companies into mega-giant success stories, before launching Blogstar and now co-founding Go Mighty. I mentioned Go Mighty before, when I talked about Camp Mighty, but to recap: Go Mighty is a platform to share your life goals, connect with sponsors to make your goals happen, and find inspiration from an enthusiastic group of go-getters and dream chasers. Sarah has been a big source of inspiration in my life, and if you ever have the pleasure of meeting her, I know you'll feel the same.
7. Sydney Poulton: "The Daybook"
I found Syndey on Pinterest, where I'm sure you've seen her, looking gorgeous and fashionable as the pregnant woman we all wanted to look like. And I continued reading her because...well, she's gorgeous and fashionable, and she's the young mom we all want to look like. And that baby she had? Whhhew, he's a cutie. But I also like Sydney because she chronicled her life as a young wife, and then a young pregnant wife, on The Daybook while she was still in BYU. And now? Well she graduated, and she has one of the most popular fashion blogs that people can't seem to get enough of. And I'm one of those people.
8. Brandy Mercredi: "Heart & Habit"
Brandy might be the first Early Mama reader who made me think, holy crap, I already know you and you're reading ME? I discovered her through the Cribsie Awards, where her blog (formerly known as Baby Blackbird) won "best inside track on kids wear trends," and I had no idea that she was an "early" mom. (You can read more about Brandy in my interview with her on Early Mama.) While the focus of her popular blog is kids' fashions — and accessible, budget-friendly fashion, I should mention — I know I'm not the only reader who checks in to see the super sweet photos of her two little ones. (Follow her on Instagram for daily awwwws.)
And not only does she have a top, must-read blog, but she also co-founded The Style Mentors — a business venture that gives fashion-challenged women (you?) an affordable personal stylist, whether you have a special occasion, a family photo shoot, or you need a full grown-up wardrobe. And bonus: you can sit behind your computer in your PJs, while your favorite fashion bloggers pull personalized lookbooks and shopping links based on your needs and budget. (So smart, right?) You can even send them photos of your existing clothes and they'll help you re-style and refresh your current wardrobe — which, awesome.
To sum up: she's smart, innovative, and super nice. I'm a big fan.
9. Khali Whatley: "Little Lovely"
Khali recently reached out to be a contributor to Early Mama, which I was thrilled about because I love her blog. I know her as a popular design blogger (I discovered her through Apartment Therapy's Homies Awards in 2011, and I then featured her crafts on Babble), and I had no idea that she started out as a younger mom. She might not be considered "young" in a lot of social circles (she was 28), but she was the first of her friends to have a baby, and experienced the "early mom" isolation, navigating and pioneering unchartered ground. Another reason to love Khali? She finds things like this and this, and omg this.
10. Sarah from "A Beach Cottage"
I met Sarah through — surprise, surprise — Sarah Bryden-Brown, at a book launch party this summer. Sarah and her friend Nikki had come all the way from Australia, where they're both superstars in the blogging world. And when Sarah heard about the concept of Early Mama, we chatted about her experiences as an "early" mom — the obstacles, the benefits — and how she wished there was a community like this for her. Now Sarah's kids are older, and she has a gorgeous and wildly popular blog called A Beach Cottage — where she writes about her beachy home and her beachy life, with a vintage, chic, and lived-in feel. She also contributes to justb., where she writes things like "Five Things I Wish I'd Known at Fifteen," including:
"When I was 15 I wish I had worked much harder... Once I became a mum though it didn’t take me long to work it out. Things changed. I worked hard. Like, all the time. I worked my socks off to have good kiddos and I wanted them to have the things I didn’t have. Not material things, not toys or computer games. No. I worked hard to make a happy home, with a happy mum. I wanted them to have boundaries, to be well-behaved, to be good friends and good people and I worked my little socks off to guide them in all of that. I worked hard on my brain, too. I pushed myself to read books to make me improve, I studied online to learn. learn, learn! I took courses in anything that interested me. I just worked really hard at being a better me. If only I had known to do that at 15."
I really relate to that desire to learn more and do better — and if only so many of us would have done that sooner.
Looking for more blogs written by young moms? Stay tuned.