Paula Clark, a former Riot Grrrl herself, first got involved with Punky Moms when she was a step-mom living in Orlando, Florida. Clark felt like she didn’t fit in with other mom and parenting groups and was looking for a community that was nonjudgemental and embraced an alternative lifestyle. Now she runs Punky Moms from her home in the United Kingdom and has found there are just as many alternative moms across the pond; moms looking for an outlet to vent, to chat about parenting, to support one another and even to do good for the world at large.
Clark’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
While we are still navigating to learn a way to make the business profitable, our mission has always been to provide a community for parents who felt left out of other groups. In the past few years, our community has grown worldwide and we provide a judgement free and empowering safe space for our members to find a friend and know that they are not alone in parenthood.
As a member of our groups, one can vent frustrations and swap anecdotes and beauty secrets. Punky Moms always provides a place where alternative parents can be themselves – and not try to fit in some mold someone decided was the right way to parent. Throughout the years our community has grown and become very involved in social justice issues. We have raised and donated money. We amplify the voices of those that we can. We have organized events throughout the world to give back. This month’s initiative is hosting period packing parties to support period poverty. We aren’t one voice, together we make a lot of noise.
Community is what Punky Moms has always been about. We work hard to organize meetups all throughout the world so that parents can have a chance to meet a like minded friend. We never ridicule, we don’t allow name bashing, we support women. We are intersectional feminists and we expect that our members identify as this or have beliefs that align with this. Intersectional feminists believe in equality, for all women, including trans women as well as non binary people. Intersectional feminists know that as women we are marginalised and other things increase the marginalisation for us , race, ability, religion, nationality, sexuality, etc. Most of us here are die hard liberal intersectional feminists who swear a lot.
We expect that our member will never post anything hateful, that they will listen to marginalised voices, lived experiences and be open to learning. In our group, it means no judging (even passive aggressively) of others parenting, choices and behaviour.
“Most of us here are die hard liberal intersectional feminists who swear a lot.”
– Paula Clark, Punky Moms
I desperately try and foster a team culture between all the volunteers that we have that help run our space. Our team works entirely remotely, so creating relationships between our team and encouraging them to reach out, chat, talk through ideas is critical. We want to know how our team is feeling, the things they are excited about. We want to know how we can support them better or where we are not giving them enough direction and figure out how we can continue to support them to be fulfilled and excited about what they are working on. We check in often, send love cards and do what we can to help.
Whether you are a new parent or have been doing this gig for awhile, raising kids is probably one of the most awesome, stressful, inspiring, fulfilling, tears-in-your-coffee-rides of your life and we want you to know you are not alone. If you are newly pregnant, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed and still might be in shock that yes indeed your eggo is preggo. Where do I start? Will I screw up this child’s life? So many questions, where do you begin? Do not worry Punky, we will help guide you along the way.
Since opening up or UK site, we have hosted mega gatherings every 6 months across the country where people have travelled hundreds of miles to attend. Our first event in Leeds had over 70 parents. Since then we have hosted in Brighton and Glasgow. Next up is Bristol.