Beginning this month, I’m starting a new monthly blog series featuring moms who are inspiring connection in their communities.
Kicking the series off, I’d like to introduce you to Kristal Ronnebaum. I met Kristal recently when she invited me to take part in her upcoming second annual Honey Dews Baby Expo, a community shopping event for expectant and new moms that features local vendors and speakers–many of whom are moms, too.
What struck me most about Kristal when I met her was her warmth, energy and enthusiasm. She has a giant heart and is truly dedicated to bringing moms together to provide them with helpful resources in a friendly, supportive atmosphere.
Read on to learn more about Kristal and her April event. If you live in the KC metro and you are interested in attending Honey Dews Baby Expo, comment on this post, and you’ll be entered to win a pair of tickets valued at $25 each.
What compelled you to start Honey Dews Baby Expo?
When my best friend Joy and I had our sons, born just two months apart in 2012, we felt there needed to be an event designed to celebrate, pamper and educate new and soon-to-be mommies. Turns out others agree! Our first event attracted nearly 150 guests and was supported by over 30 local businesses. Our 2nd annual event coming Saturday, April 5, 2014 is on track to double both our attendance and the businesses that support it.
The second element of Honey Dews Baby Expo is to help support our local resources featuring baby products, services and education. There is an enormous amount of talent in the KC metro, and new and expecting families need to know they are here. I have a list a mile-long of resources I wish I had known about much sooner than I did. Honey Dews Baby Expo helps families by bringing these businesses together in one beautiful and convenient location.
You are a busy mom with a full-time job outside of the home. Why is connecting and building community with other moms a priority for you?
My favorite quote I heard while I was pregnant was, “live the life you want your children to live.” We strive everyday to be the very best version of ourselves without ‘losing’ ourselves. That’s a very tough thing to do. As women, we put others needs above our own everywhere we look. It’s our nature. However, if we were all well-nurtured, happy and taking the best care of ourselves, imagine how much more focused, productive and full of love we would be?
It’s hard to be everything to everyone when you are exhausted and feeling alone. Don’t forget to keep investing in yourself. Connecting with other moms is crucial. Sometimes a good laugh, a good cry or a 10-gallon jug of coffee with a fellow mommy friend is all we need.
There is a great support and peace in knowing we are better together. It’s going to be okay, and there is never a time we are truly alone. There is always someone else going through the same ups and downs that we are. There is no perfect mother. Just the one that strives to do her best every day. Sure, we’ll stumble from time-to-time, but having this support makes it easier to dust ourselves off and try again tomorrow.
How do you envision the Baby Expo contributing to a mom’s sense of community?
With over 52 local businesses supporting Honey Dews Baby Expo so far, we have created a well-rounded event that showcases a variety of products, services and education to assist in every aspect of raising a family. Only 300 tickets will be sold to create that sense of community and ensure each and every one of our guests feels important, appreciated and celebrated.
By design, Honey Dews Baby Expo fosters a close and intimate environment that encourages lots of one-on-one attention and conversations with our partners. Each of our guests will leave with immediate access to each of our partners at their fingertips. Time is precious as new parents, and we have worked very hard to ensure their time with us is an investment worth making.
If you are a new mommy, we encourage you to bring your baby with you to the event to take advantage of the many hands-on opportunities we have planned for both of you. Otherwise, if you feel comfortable leaving your baby in capable hands for this short four hour window, come join us to soak it all in and enjoy the mommy pampering elements, too. The majority of our partners are mothers too, so you will feel that sense of community and belonging the moment you walk through the doors.
We have happened upon the most incredible services and talent featuring baby products, services and education in this city. The support is outstanding, and they are all here waiting with open arms to help.
How does creating and participating in community nourish you as a mother?
Each of us has our own one-of-a-kind set of talents and gifts. I was taught at a very early age, and still believe to this day, we owe it to ourselves and the world to shine them in their brightest light. “Live the life you want your children to live.” Children are so impressionable and if we can show them what that looks like and live it everyday, their future and our overall community will benefit exponentially. I feel most alive when I am contributing to something much bigger than just myself. Motherhood is a perfect example of that, and it truly take a village.
What advice do you have for moms who are feeling isolated?
You are a mother. What a miraculous gift! Please try hard not to compare yourself to others. Try to remember the woman you were before sleepless nights and being able to control your schedule and find time to take care of you!
They say we should fill our cup with the things that nourish and feed our souls first and what spills over our cup is what we give to the rest of the world. While Mommyhood is the most amazing thing ever, it can be very isolating and quite frankly the single most challenging job on the planet. A strong mother knows when to ask for help and seeks out new friendships with other mothers who can relate.
Some of my greatest friendships in life have been created in the past 18 months of Connor’s life. Together, these mothers are unstoppable and are full of a love that is truly indescribable until you hold that baby in your arms for the first time. I joined several mommy groups in the past year, and in addition to creating amazing friendships with other mommies, I have found a sense of belonging and relief that everything is going to be ok.
It’s a funny thing that happens when you quit trying to fit the perfect mommy mold…you realize there’s not a single other mommy that has figured it out either and there’s nothing lonely about that.
About the event: Honey Dews Baby Expo is on Saturday, April 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Deer Creek Golf Club in Overland Park, KS. A portion of the ticket sales will be donated to HappyBottoms.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing diapers to families in need in the greater Kansas City community. Diapers are not covered by any public assistance.
Bring a diaper donation to the event, and you will receive extra chances to win prizes throughout the day as a thank you for your support!
Want to a chance to win a pair of tickets for you and a friend? Comment here by answering this question:
What qualities do you look for in mom friends?