A tribute to Mothering Magazine

It was just only last week that I was reminded by Lisa that I had a draft blog post about Mothering Magazine that still needed to be published. Long overdue (I started it 2 years ago!) I rationalized that I would finish it next month upon returning from the Natural Products Trade Show because I expected to see Peggy O’Mara, editor of Mothering Magazine at the event.

Next month wasn’t going to be timely, as I learned just yesterday that Peggy informed the online community that Mothering Magazine has been discontinued in print and digital format (but will thankfully remain as a website). This news was devastating for me on several fronts:

  • Mothering magazine has been an essential resource for Madeleine and myself in our journeys as Mothers
  • Mothering magazine has been a fantastic advertiser for Lunapads since the birth of my first child 8 years ago
  • Peggy O’Mara is someone we greatly admire and are proud to call a friend
  • Madeleine participated in a workshop led by Peggy in 2005 at Hollyhock (with her then-4 month-old daughter as well as her Mom in tow!) and we had the incredible fortune to meet Peggy in 2009 in Los Angeles. Peggy subsequently paid a personal visit to our offices for a fundraising tea party. Those meetings rank highly among our personal “Lunapads greatest moments”.

    While I can only imagine how difficult a business decision it must have been for the Mothering team to close this huge chapter in their life, I will selfishly miss flipping through a magazine that has significantly shaped my parenting choices. The 35 year legacy of the magazine and what it has done for the natural family living movement cannot be understated. Yet being in the publishing business is incredibly difficult: the magazine industry has taken some huge hits in recent years, with steeply declining advertising revenue as readers flocked to the web. When news hit on Facebook and Twitter that the magazine was no longer going to be in print, while many expressed their disappointment, sadly, numerous insensitive people expressed their anger. This post is not going to wade into that discussion: rather, I’d like to take this opportunity to send a heartfelt public message of appreciation to Peggy and her team for what Mothering has contributed the parenting community.

    I was introduced to Mothering Magazine in 2002 when they approached Lunapads for advertising. That same year, I got pregnant and found myself devouring dozens of back editions that I scored at a La Leche League meeting (pictured above, including a 15th anniversary edition from 20 years ago) to educate me about what lay ahead for me during pregnancy and birth. In particular, one article called “Ecstatic Birth” deeply changed my view about birth: that by nature, birth could be a natural, beautiful and ecstatic experience. That one article erased my fears (birth did not have to look like what is typically portrayed on TV or film) and empowered me with the vision and confidence that I could have a natural and undisturbed birth experience.

    When it was time for my second birth, thanks to the mothering.com community, I recognized I had birthing choices. I planned a peaceful home birth, one of the most significant events of my life our family will treasure forever. Some of my fondest memories as a new mother involved nursing Aiden while reading Mothering Magazine. The articles and personal stories from mothers and fathers introduced me to the concept of natural family living. Peggy’s books and well researched editorials covered complex topics like circumcision, vaccinations and co-sleeping. And while I didn’t always completely agree with the everything written in the magazine, Peggy always encouraged her readers to make informed decisions and trust your instincts as a parent.

    Mothering is also supported by a expansive website, rich with articles written by experts about topics such as extending breastfeeding, cloth diapering, gay parenting, elimination communication (my response to it) , home births, and lactivism (my response to it). The MotheringDotCommunity forum (“MDC) is one of the largest online forums on the internet, host to over 100,000 members. It is a valuable resource and community space to get information and perspectives on topics rarely discussed or entertained in mainstream channels. MDC was hugely active well before Facebook and Twitter were part of our vocabulary!

    The MDC forum also became an important resource for me to connect with my local Mothering “tribe” here in Vancouver. Our local online discussion group here in Vancouver is a place where dozens of families regularly chat to ask questions, share information, celebrate, provide support and make plans to meet up in real life. I remember how lonely and difficult being a brand new mom felt, and the MDC community was a savior to me during that time.

    Peggy O’Mara, the vision and soul behind Mothering Magazine, is a living legend. Her work and advocacy for parents makes her a pillar in the natural family living movement. Thank you Peggy for being there for me in my journey as a mother. You are simply the best! We will dearly miss the print magazine but look forward to seeing the website grow and succeed.

    I strongly encourage everyone to join the online MDC community. Please consider pledging your financial support to their website by becoming a Supporting Member. As a show of Lunapads devoted support for Mothering.com, we are pledging to sponsor 4 supporting memberships (value $25 each) to 4 readers of our blog. To enter, please post a comment below telling us how Mothering.com has made a difference in your family’s life or why you want to join this online community. We will announce the winner in next month’s newsletter. Even if you don’t need a membership, please share your story with us anyways (or if you win, donate it back to someone who would benefit from it).

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    • I first subscribed 11 years ago after my daughter was born and a friend bought me a gift subscription. Mothering inspired me to have home births, reinforced my conviction that cloth diapers were better for the environment and for my baby, and always felt like a friend coming in the mail. I’m now a contributing editor there and I’m devastated–just devastated–that there will no longer be a print magazine. It seems like a terrible loss to every parent and mother-to-be in America.

    • marie

      Mothering helped me in many ways. They helped educate me on breastfeeding, clothdiapers, clothpads & the article on mamarage was an eye opener. I am guilty of being very upset & mad that they are no longer printing, partly because I just bought my subscription, partly because I don’t have many like minded friends aside from Twitter. But, I can only imagine what all those at Mothering must be feeling. I sure am grateful for all the times I did have their magazines to help through some of my toughtimes. Thank you.

    • nerdymom (my mdc handle)

      Mothering magazine completely changed my life! I didn’t plan on becoming pregnant with my first child. As the proud nerd I am, my first move when the two little lines appeared on the pregnancy test (ok several tests!) was to rush to the bookstore and look over their selection of pregnancy books. I selected one for my husband, which I gave to him that night, along with the tests for a little “SURPRISE!” I brought home for myself that book that pretty much everyone who is expecting buys. And when I started reading I started getting really anxious and scared. A few days later I made my way back to the bookshop, to look for something a little more light, and there was ‘Mothering’. I was impressed with a very thorough article on cloth diapering, and natural childbirth. It was the only thing I bought that day because it was the only thing that wasn’t freaking me out!

      Because ‘Mothering’ opened my eyes to different possibilities and MDC provided much needed moral support, I planned a home birth, I didn’t let my son cry it out, I coslept and bedshared, I kept the baby gear to a minimum, avoided harmful plastics, delayed solids, breastfed until age 2, cloth diapered, and most important of all – I learned to trust my own mothering instincts. ‘Mothering’ helped me become a confident, happy, relaxed, intuitive, fearless and fierce mother.

      When I read Peggy’s web editorial yesterday I sat at my computer and cried. I’m pregnant with #2 now and I had many fond dreams of nursing my new baby while thumbing through each new edition of the magazine.

      I’m a member of MDC but I opted to pay for a paper subscription rather than a forum membership. If I win one of the subscriptions you will know it won’t go to waste!

    • I too was so, so sad to hear of this recent change for Mothering Magazine.
      Mothering was my go to for all things parenting related, both for myself, and while I was a doula and childbirth educator as my number one suggestion that all parents get a subscription!

      My first response{after being sad} though is that this could possibly be the progressive step we need in moving towards a paper-less,{not as in no paper}–but as in less paper used in our world.

      The community is still there, mothering will continue their web-site and hopefully make a digital version of the magazine and this is what hopefully will sustain all of the mothers across this globe that love the legacy that Peggy has created in mothering–a tribe of women who know what is best for them and their babies, and who are not afraid to share it, pass it on and send the love to other new mothers in need.

      Mothering has long been a magazine about natural parenting and using toys and products that are safe and kid friendly–I think this new move falls under both of those things and so they will continue to have my support, devotion and love for the excellent magazine they create–on-line!

      Thank you Suzanne for this post, I feel the same!
      Much love

    • Heidi

      I always felt that Mothering honored motherhood as the art form that it is.
      Seeing some of the magazine’s covers at the top of your post is almost as sweet as looking back at pictures of my lovely babies – they bring back warm memories of the empowerment and absolute contentment I felt as a new mother, thanks – in no small way – to the magazine itself. Such powerful support for the most beautiful job in the world. I’m happy to hear that they are still continuing in a digital format so that mothers (and fathers) can continue to benefit from such an enlightened resource.

      You are doing wonderful things in the world, Suzanne. I’m proud to be part of your family!

    • What a beautiful, thought-filled post Suzanne. While I am disappointed that there will no longer be a print or digital version for me to take advantage of as I enter motherhood within the next couple of years, I’m very grateful that there is still a wonderful online community of natural minded parents to connect with.

      I’m sad to see such a resourceful magazine go out of print but completely understand why they had to make this decision and respect that it must have been incredibly hard to do.

      I will look into joining the online MDC community as we are planning to conceive in the Spring 🙂

    • Elaine

      Although I never subscribed to the print edition, I relied heavily on the mdc forums for lots of info and support, especially when my second child was born. It really opened my eyes to non mainstream parenting approaches (when dh and most friends are pretty mainstream), and I am extremely grateful to have the website as a resource.

    • Michelena

      Like others have expressed, I was saddened to learn of Mothering’s fate, and then disappointed further still when I read some people’s angry responses! As if they think that the wonderful staff at Mothering magazine just hastily decided to abandon us all. What is with some people? I am certain that Peggy et al, did everything they could to prevent it from happening! Sheesh!

      Onto what Mothering magazine has meant to me – in a word, everything! I was living in another country when my daughter was born and I hadn’t made any close friends. Our real friends and family members were “back home”. I don’t have a good role model for what a good Mama is, but that’s what I found in MM. So much of what I read there, makes perfect sense to me in a deep down way. It’s written by and about Mamas who are like I want to be =0/ I feel most sad for the young women who haven’t started families yet who will not have this lovely guide coming to their homes when they need it most. Sigh.

    • I am deeply sad to hear Mothering is coming to an end as we have known it. It is an understatement to say that Mothering was the cornerstone of me reaching the wisdom within when I began my mothering journey. I found so much strength, empowerment, and understanding between those pages and my three children have greatly benefited from the ongoing encouragment shared in Mothering magazine.

    • We have been randomly giving away a subscription to Mothering magazine to our customer feedback survey respondents since we started Snugabell in 2008. It is such a great resource!

      I too am sad to see the magazine go out of production, however now Peggy and the Mothering team have made room for something bigger and better. I have no doubt!

    • I too am sad about this. I am a new mother to a 9 month old and only began reading articles after becoming a mother.

      I had great difficulty during my initial days of breastfeeding. Severe pain, aches everywhere. I was on the verge of giving up innumerable times. I also had bonding issues due to horrid blues.

      Then, I found mothering. Like a previous poster, I used to read some articles while holding my daughter. I can’t say how, I can’t say why, but I can say what happened. The articles renewed my faith in myself as a mother. When my moods seemed bleakest, reading the articles filled me with a warm glow. Validated my parenting choices that didn’t seem to be working at that point. They aren’t today’s mainstream choices, so it was more difficult to find support. The articles made what seemed to be endless hours of nursing quite enjoyable, as I reveled in the gaze of my daughter upon me. When I sat with her to nurse her, to rock her to sleep. Enjoying the moments of babyhood with her. Wondering about my own babyhood. Was I really ever this small? My mother swears I was.

      I will miss mothering although Peggy has been in my life only for about 6-7 months. Might not some giant hand yet extend the support mothering needs to continue operation?

    • When I showed up to the Indie Press Association conference with my 4 kids in tow (youngest 6 months) I was introduced to the Spirit of Mothering Magazine. It hadn’t occurred to me that showing up with 4 kids could be a bit off-putting for some publishers, and there were a few times that I felt a bit out of place.
      Many people went out of their way to connect with me though, and one woman (Managing Editor of Mothering) stood out: she not only had her toddler at the conference with her, she breastfed him there. I was awakened to a deeper level of understanding about what was possible.
      That was 2005.
      I began reading Mothering, and our lives began to change. Though I already embraced many of the ideals put forth in Mothering before coming in contact with the magazine (home birth, no vaccinations, breast feeding, whole foods, etc.) I think I had never felt really part of a community until I began to read the magazine.
      I began to realize how well read the magazine is within my circle of friends. I began to speak more openly about my child rearing beliefs. Many new friendships were born, others were strengthened.
      As a person who formerly published a print magazine, I understand all too well how fast and furiously times are changing.
      I am thrilled that Mothering is embracing that change, and will survive (and thrive) because of that willingness and openness to change.

    • I started reading Mothering years before I even conceived! By the time our baby arrived I had such a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips. This was long before the internet was able to help, so I would have been lost without Peggy and her writers.

      When I was a doula and prenatal nutritionist this was one of the first things I would recommend to my clients. I loved seeing the dog-eared mangled copies of the magazine on visits with these new moms. I knew Mothering was one of the best mother’s-helpers they could ask for.

      Our daughter is almost 13 now, and the articles about nurturing our teens have been some of the most vital bits of help we’ve had in understanding that not all teens are inherently trouble. That with guidance and love we can help her grow into a lovely young adult. It is with sadness that I know now I cannot gift her with Mothering should she choose to have a child some day – except for all of the old copies I can now never part with.

      Thank you Peggy and team. When I look at my daughter and marvel at who she is, I will always feel that you had a hand in raising this beautiful child. Best of luck in the online world. We look forward to hearing more from you.

    • Karen

      I found Mothering magazine while waiting for a prenatal massage at a local natural baby store/yoga & massage studio. As I flipped through an issue that was several years old, I was amazed at how different it was than the free parenting magazine subscriptions that you automatically get once businesses realize you’re pregnant. No formula coupons, but articles on how to breastfeed, and how to get help if you need it. No “cry it out” advice and guidance, but instructions to listen to your instincts and hold your baby, no matter how “spoiled” he or she may become. No articles about which $500 stroller is best for your family, but instead information about how to wear your baby! This magazine amazed me, and affirmed my decisions that I had already been planning to make for my still unborn child. As soon as I got home, I found the magazine online and subscribed immediately. The 10 minutes I looked at it in the waiting room was enough for me to know that I wanted in!

      Sadly, I’ve only had my subscription for about a year, but I have purchased many back issues to read, and will probably get some more. Reading this magazine is like talking to a friend whose only advice is what I know I want to hear, instead of recommendations to let her cry, to wean her, to put her in her own crib, to ignore her. This magazine has affirmed my instincts, and has helped me learn about other issues such as circumcision, so that I may make informed decisions in the future.

      While I am heartbroken that it is not around any longer, I thank Peggy and the Mothering staff for their encouragement and affirmation. Hopefully one day, they can get back on their feet again.

    • I am so saddened by this news! I have read Mothering from the time I even was still thinking about starting a family. I was instantly hooked. I will never be able to thank them enough at Mothering Magazine for being a constant source of light and information in the realm of natural parenting!

      Mothering will be deeply missed!

    • I’m so sad about this too! Mothering has been a tremendous resource for me. I discovered the magazine in the waiting room of our midwives, and discovered the forum when I had a 6 month old child. That changed everything for me! I found such a wonderful community and have learned amazing things from the people there. I know the magazine has been a source of great support to so many people, especially those isolated from folks who share their desire to parent in a very different way to the mainstream. I hope that their work can go on in their wonderful website, it is truly a community.

    • Linda

      I’m so sad. I LOVE Mothering Magazine. I’ve been subscribing since 1996 when I was pregnant with my first child. I found an issue at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and was ecstatic to find like minded people. I wasn’t the only one feeding my kid brown rice and using cloth diapers!! 🙂 Once or twice I’ve thought of dropping my subscription. We, like many, have been on a very tight budget. Mothering has been our only magazine subscription. When my daughter was nine I came across a great article about “tweens”. Then again a few years later I appreciated the amazing articles on parenting teens. It gave me confidence that I could do this teenage parenting thing without going into full fledged panic. I just have felt so supported and now I have a group of younger friends having babies so I ran out and purchased a few gift subscriptions. bummer.

      Of course nothing lasts forever and I will adjust. I don’t get my relaxing reading done on the computer. But I’ll give it a try. (I may have to wait for finances to improve since my husband has been laid off twice in last two years.)I give Peggy and the hard working crew at Mothering many thanks for a life changing magazine that has meant to much to so many.
      With love and prayers for this new venture,

    • Ericandgregsmom

      I feel as if I’ve lost a best friend. Rec’d my first copy at my baby shower in 1998 from my friend who knew I embraced a lot of natural living principles. I fell in love with it immediately and subscribed. Mothering promoted a pure, peaceful parenting style with the baby – not the baggage – as the focus.
      Just in case, I’m looking for 1996 and earlier back issues.  Janet
      ericandgregsmom@comcast:disqus .net