Alexis Barad-Cutler is known for her honest and raw take on motherhood and pregnancy. She is an author, freelance writer, and the founder of Not Safe For Mom Group (NSFMG). Throughout the years her voice has made an impact on women, opening up a particular dialogue that moms have been craving. She also creates content for sites like Mindr, Fatherly, Hey Mama, and Well Rounded — among other places that cater to the parenting set. NSFMG is a place to express raw feelings without fear of judgement. NSFMG’s first event called Ask Me Anything takes place on October 30th (flyer below)– don’t miss it! Read more about Alexis as she lets us in on the making of her career and the mixed messages of motherhood and perfection below!
“I think we need to show more “imperfect” mothers, and celebrate them. No one is perfect.”- Alexis
What makes you a Beyond Mom?
I’ve been writing frankly and openly about pregnancy and motherhood ever since I began my own journey of becoming a mother. First, it was a hobby, while I continued to pursue my previous profession as a children’s book ghostwriter and editor — and then I turned it into my profession. I recently launched a website/community called Not Safe For Mom Group (NSFMG), which publishes boundary-pushing content around the tough-to-talk-about stuff of motherhood.
I’d been trying to figure out how to merge all of my passions into one place, as well as fill a gap that I felt in my own life. The website aims to create community by collecting stories from readers about their motherhood experiences, and sharing those stories; so that in reading them, others feel less alone. And, of course, the theme of the day is “the stuff you don’t talk about in your mom group.” I’ve been germinating this idea for a few years, and I’m really happy I finally went for it.
What are the parts of you that have grown and expanded since becoming a mom?
I’m an anxious person by nature. On the surface, it doesn’t show. But at home, I can get lost for hours in organizing frenzies. Kids are, almost by definition, chaos. They’ve taught me to let go of a lot of my rigidities, and soften in ways I probably never would have if they hadn’t forced me to.
Do you have a Beyond dream that you are pursing?
Yes, I would love to grow my Not Safe For Mom Group community. It is brand, spanking new, and I would love for it to touch as many people that need it as possible. I find that the mom groups that people belong to don’t always provide a safe space to talk about the grittier things that are on women’s minds. And as you get farther from new motherhood, you lose a lot of the connections you had to “The Mom Group.” I’d like to create something that is meaningful to people, and that makes up for where other groups may fall short. I’ll be launching NSFMG events in the fall, which will be the “in person” version of the content you see on the Instagram and the website. My dream is that people leave those events with a sense of connection and feeling like they’re not the only ones having the kinds of thoughts they are having. I also hope that people come to the site willing to share their own stories, as it can’t be a group discussion if I’m the only one talking, right?
What relationships and activities help you stay connected to yourself?
Coming home at the end of a (pretty isolating) day of writing, and playing with my two boys, is one of the most grounding things I do. I love fully throwing myself into their imaginary worlds, or sitting next to them as they create something, or tool around with a toy, or have a dance party with them. My weekly date night with my husband is the most important thing on my calendar each week. And other than that, my weekly aerial silks class takes me out of myself and really frees my mind from clutter. Having these routines keeps me pretty centered. I really thrive when I feel like I’ve touched each area of my life that’s important to me: Husband, kids, work, dance. If I don’t do these things weekly, I tend to feel off kilter. Oh, and THERAPY.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that you live by?
From a yoga teacher: “Do less.” It doesn’t mean that you should slack off. It means that if you put less effort and strain into something, you’ll probably get a better result. Breathe into it and all that hoohah. It also has another meaning for me. I tend to do everything 130%, so it is important for me to do less sometimes, otherwise I don’t have enough energy left for my family or myself.
What causes and topics are you most passionate about right now?
Social justice, #metoo, gender equality in the workplace, rights for mothers in the workplace. I especially love what Mindr is doing right now, to help inform companies as to how they can retain and support working mothers throughout parental leave, and during their re-entry into the workplace.
How do you think we can change our culture from one in which a woman is expected to be a “perfect mother” to one in which she is encouraged to discover and explore her evolving self?
I think we need to show more “imperfect” mothers, and celebrate them. No one is perfect. There exists a romanticized notion of motherhood, perpetuated especially by the images we see on Instagram, that creates an unhealthy expectation of what motherhood should be like. Women who choose themselves, not in spite of, but in addition to their motherhood, are seen as non-maternal. It will take a long time, but with better infrastructure to support working moms, and revealing more stories of real moms, we can shift the paradigm of what it means to be a mother away from outdated notions.
Favorite go-to’s for:
Beyond Food (what do you cook & where do you go locally?)
I do not cook. I am the worst. My husband is the chef. He tries to pick up things from Eataly on his way home from the gym, and he cooks some kind of pasta or fish. Some nights it is stir fry of veggies from a local (not strictly organic) market on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Most nights we order in. I buy as many fruits and vegetables for my kids from my favorite organic store, Perelandra, in Brooklyn Heights to offset all the pizza and mac and cheese they eat.
Beyond Content (Books & Podcasts)
I’m obsessed with creepy podcasts right now. If it is about serial killers, sign me up (i.e. Last Podcast on the Left, My Favorite Murder.) I start each day with The Daily from The New York Times and Up First by NPR. I just finished an amazing book by a classmate of mine from Barnard: “My Year of Rest and Relaxation,” by Ottessa Moshfegh.
I’m totally inspired by my friend Jenny Greenstein of Your Soul Style. She makes the best mood boards. In the summer I wear a ton of prints and colors, and lately, I have discovered I have quite the collection of crop tops in my closet.