Where do I even start to talk about the “Mamas Night Out”. It has been 3 weeks now, and I keep putting off writing a post about it, because I am not sure I will ever do it justice. Trying to do it justice may result in me writing a short novel, so let me see what I can do.
I love what Pacific Cookie Company employee Emily, wrote about the event, which you can read in its entirety here, but these few sentences sum it up so nicely. “It was at that moment that I realized the significance of the event. Mama’s Night Out wasn’t just another night on the town; it wasn’t about socializing with friends or with other mothers; it wasn’t about showing off your new shoes, or winning a few raffle prizes; it was about family. It was about solidarity. It was about creating awareness. It was to teach how to Love Like Liam.”
The event was everything I had hoped it would be and more. I am still in a bit of shock that 275 women showed up. Our goal was 200, but we would have been happy with 100. For me personally, looking around the room and seeing mamas I met 9 years ago at a new baby group, teachers from my my kids elementary and preschool, moms who I talk to everyday and moms who I have met once or twice, was such a great feeling. To see all these women come out to support a cause that had become so important to me was overwhelming. There were also the amazing mamas who jumped on board with Cara and I and did all they could do to help out. I can’t forget the businesses and individuals who donated to the cause to ensure that every dollar raised at the event would go to Cookies for Kids Cancer.
There was the the shabby chic orange and pink decor that was perfection. I spent the first part of the evening watching women walk in and be in awe. They then made their way over to the wine that was so generously donated and sampled the delicious desserts also donated from 16 local bakeries. They bought raffle tickets to win one of the 75 items or bid on the silent auction items. The mamas did some shopping in our mama business shopping area and even had an opportunity to get fit for the right size bra. There was a place to get your makeup done, glitter tattoos and the very popular feather hair extensions. Mamas drank some yummy cocktails being made by Clouds and listened to the dj playing just the right tunes to get them moving. There was also the fun photo booth set up by Rebecca Stark Photography (you can see those photos here and event photos from Rebecca here). The icing on the cookie though, was having Gretchen Witt, mama of sweet prince Liam and the person who started Cookies For Kids Cancer come to the event. We watched a slideshow of Liam’s beautiful memorial service and then Gretchen spoke. She shared all the amazing things about Liam and why she started Cookies for Kids Cancer. While there was not a dry eye in the house, mamas got the message loud and clear that 1. pediatric cancer is grossly underfunded and 2. to LOVE LOVE LIAM.
When Cara and I started planning the event and told Gretchen our plan, she said she was going to come to the event. While I thought that would be the most wonderful thing, I was not going to get my hopes up. I knew that May was going to be a tough and busy month for her, and a trip from New York to California may not actually work out. Cara and I went ahead planning and hoped that Gretchen would be able to attend and share sweet Liam in her own words. A few days before the event, while Cara and I were meeting, we saw a facebook update from Gretchen that she was really coming to the event. As things got crazy those last few days, I would just stop and think of Gretchen walking into the event and seeing 250+ women there to support her cause, and then I would cry. As Cara and I watched women coming in to the event, and made sure everything was going smooth, we often looked toward the entry for Gretchen. While Cara and I waited for the elevator so we could head downstairs and see if Gretchen had showed up, the doors opened and there she was. Cara and I tried not to cry, but how could we not. Emily Fowler, Gretchen’s friend and the one who does so much of it a Cookies For Kids Cancer, wrote this to us in an email, when she talked of getting some press for the event; “who wouldn’t want to retell the story of 3 women who were complete strangers and are now friends (even though they’ve never met in person . . .yet), united by the inspiration of a little boy and the organization founded by one of the women?”. I think that sums it up so nicely. This photo is one I will always treasure.
The concept of the event was something I had in my head for a few years now. Mamas go out with their “momtourage” every month or so. We eat, drink margaritas and complain about the things in our life that are not going quite as planned. I thought why not take the idea of a mamas night out and make it for a good cause. Lucky for me, Cara totally got it and we made a great team planning the details of this event to make it perfect. So perfect, that before the night was over, people were already asking if we would do it again next year. Don’t tell our husbands yet, but I think the answer is yes. I would also love to see mamas everywhere do these types of events. Find a cause that is important to you and your friends and do it..just do it.
As Gretchen put it that evening, “it is not about science, it is about funding”. While many mamas left the event with glitter tattoos, feather extensions and a few raffle prizes, they also left moved and inspired to make a difference. Unfortunately, once you get back into the daily routines of life, it is hard to hold onto that feeling. The thought of actually doing something can be a bit overwhelming and I want to make it easy for mamas and their kids to make a difference. In September, during Childhood Cancer Awareness month, I want to encourage you to have a bake sale. At a time when many of us will be crazy with back to school and all the activities that surround that, it is the perfect time to think of all the mothers who are dealing with something much bigger than picking out the right backpack. I promise to do all I can to help you hold a bake sale between September 15th-18th at your kids school, in your workplace or right in front of your house in your neighborhood. There was a wonderful blog post written on the CFKC blog about involving you kids here. To sum it up, I share this quote from one of Liam’s preschool teachers; “Not only can children relate to cookies, they can help bake, package and sell cookies. It is literally a hands-on opportunity for children to become part of the solution to a problem that plagues way too many children in today’s world. What a positive way for families to nurture the seeds of empathy in their young children, and introduce them to the ways philanthropy and activism!”
For a few years now, I had thought about doing mini mama and kids photo-shoots to benefit CFKC. When I walked into the space where the event was going to be held, and saw the columns throughout the space, I knew that photos of mamas and their kids would be the perfect addition to the event. A few weeks before the event, me and 3 other local photographers did a day of “mama and me” mini sessions and we then hung a black and white one from every session at the event. While doing all those sessions was a bit exhausting, getting the opportunity to see and document the love that mamas have for their children was invigorating.
When I look at these photos, I see a beautiful mama and her adorable girls, who felt as strongly as I did about this important cause and was my perfect partner in crime. I also see mamas and their amazing little boys who just so happen to be cancer survivors, a mama who brought another child into her already full family to give him a wonderful life, a mama who lost her sweet boy years ago and still has the ability to find joy in the everyday. I also see a mama who had to make a change in her life to do the best for her children, a mama who lost her husband and is having to raise her beautiful children without him. There are also a few mamas who had to deal with miscarriages before they got to move on to have their precious babies..one who had her little boy the night of our event. I see a mama who is always the first person to lend a hand for an important cause and A mama who has never had photos taken with her 3 beautiful boys.
I look at these photos and I see that every mama has a story and what it is like to love your children in a way you never thought possible. I see a small fraction of the women who joined us on a magical night in May and learned to LOVE LIKE LIAM.