Note: This profile of MomCom Life founder Trish Morrison was originally published in 2014.
Trish Morrison didn’t think there were moms like her, an initially reluctant mother who then decided that she couldn’t have it all: husband, daughter, full-time job. She was on the roller coaster and she wanted to get off. She wanted to create a job description that worked for her.
She knew there had to be other women like her.
She created MomCom Life for all kinds of moms: ones who work outside the home, ones who stay at home, ones who do something in between.
MomCom Life’s not just a website or a blog – its main focus is the MomCom conference, which will be held Jan. 24-25 at the Westin Austin at the Domain. The conference allows women to connect and to learn from fellow mothers who don’t try to sugarcoat motherhood. It’s really hard, after all. Both the site and the events feature honest stories to which real women could relate.
When not holding a conference, MomCom offers a blog not on having it all, because that’s just not humanly possible, but on how to make life easier.
Morrison and her now husband, Austin firefighter Homero Garcia, were content being a couple and enjoying life with their couple friends when she got pregnant. She was 39 when Delilah, who is now 6, arrived. “I was never that mom that said, ‘Oh, I have to have kids, ‘” she says.
Her transition to motherhood was not easy. Suddenly, someone else was relying on her and dictating what she would do every day. “It wasn’t all wheat fields and roses, ” she says. “It was hard.”
Morrison, who has a master’s of business administration from St. Edwards, was working full-time as a data system manager at the Austin office for the University of Texas-Arlington. Her commute was wearing on her and she lived too far from her office to be able to go home for lunch to check on Delilah.
She hated it. She decided to redefine work for herself. She took a part-time job at an event planning company and the rest of the time she would work at home as a writer. She would have more time with Delilah.
Moms like us
Morrison thought she was the only one creating this kind of work arrangement for herself, but soon she started meeting other mothers, mostly bloggers, who had different flexible work schedules. One mom would connect her to another mom. She realized there was something about these women that begged for them to have a forum to get together. “There was nothing that said, â€˜Hey, you’re a mom and you’re trying to make it, trying to survive and here are a group of women doing it.'”
But she also knew it couldn’t just be about these moms who have created their own flexible work schedules. It also had to include traditional working moms as well as traditional stay-at-home moms and everything in between, because, as she was learning, there was a lot of in between.
By the start of 2012, she had quit her part-time job to launch MomCom Life.
Building a new community
Morrison knew that for MomCom Life to work it had to be more than a website. It had to be face-to-face relationships as well. For the last two years, she’s held two MomCom events each year to bring together the women who were connecting with the website.
This year, MomCom has grown into a two-day event. The Friday program begins in late afternoon with three speakers: Melinda Garvey, founder of Austin Woman Magazine, Yasmin Diallo Turk, project director for HOPE for Senegal, and Glennon Doyle Melton, founder of Momastery.com. Then attendees head out for a wine walk and taste at 10 stores in the Domain.
Saturday’s speakers include Heather Schuck of the clothing brand Glamajama, photographer Elizabeth Kreutz, Lustre Pearl bar owner Bridget Dunlap and Karen Walrond, author of “The Beauty of Different.” There are also breakout sessions on finances, being a guilt-free working mom, the need to keep up, public relations in business and being yourself.
Morrison instructs speakers to tell their stories, to be real and honest. “Who are you as a mom and a woman?” she asks them to answer. She doesn’t want any canned speeches. “I want to hear the dirty, the agony and the hope that comes with it, ” she says. “Women want to know speakers are just like them.”
In between the speakers are opportunities for networking, including lunch, breakfast and a happy hour. These are opportunities for women to really talk to one another and learn from one another, not just the speakers. Morrison says she wants women to “dare to say, ‘I sucked as a mom today, ‘ or ‘I really bombed at work today. How do I turn this around?'”
So many women connect at MomCom because they have been given the go-ahead from the speaker to be honest, she says. She has seen women who meet at MomCom go on to become friends or business associates. It’s not the typical networking, she says, because people feel free to be honest and open, to be vulnerable and to put themselves out there. At other conferences, women put their game faces on and say, “Oh, everything is great, ” she says. At MomCom, they are willing to say, “Everything is not great, ” Morrison says.
Let’s be honest
Honesty is what Morrison craved when she became a mother and struggled. She wanted MomCom to be the conversation that wasn’t happening in the parenting books. “We’re told that everything is supposed to be perfect and wonderful, ” she says. “We’re constantly told we could do better.”
Morrison needed that place where she was could have reassurances that imperfection was OK and that she didn’t need to demand so much from herself. “I really needed to know that I wasn’t going crazy when I couldn’t get my (expletive) together. I needed to talk with other moms.”
Other moms have helped Morrison build MomCom Life into a brand that she says reaches about 20,000 women. She has dedicated moms, some full-time, some part-time, some who do this in their spare time, some who just volunteer, who are helping to build the brand. This year, there will be one conference and smaller events throughout the year.
It has not been easy. She’s working harder now than when she worked for an employer, but she does have flexibility to work with the schedule of her daughter’s life and her husband’s life. Still, her life is out of balance, and she says that’s OK, because balance is not possible. “I don’t believe in balance, I just believe in different phases of chaos.”
People are always having to give up on something, she says. Sometimes it’s time for her daughter, sometimes it’s that extra push to get a MomCom sponsor. “Unfortunately, usually the husband is last.”
MomCom Life and the conference offer a lot of well-thought-out advice that we all know in our hearts we should take, but often Morrison finds that advice difficult to follow in her own life. “I don’t practice what I preach, ” she says. “I don’t take care of myself, and then the guilt comes down.”
“Can you have it all?” she says. “That doesn’t even make sense. It’s not humanly possible.”
But we sure do try as moms.
And Morrison, the reluctant mom who now has a business centered on motherhood, knows she’s seen a lot of joy in the midst of the struggle of motherhood. “I can’t imagine life without her, ” she says of Delilah. “She’s changed everything for the better. Every day she amazes me.”
Contact Nicole Villalpando at 512-912-5900.