Q and A with Ashlee Gadd of Coffee + Crumbs on Creating A Space For Talking About Motherhood
by Shonette Reed
The calm and the chaos are what Ashlee Gadd’s website Coffee + Crumbs represent, though she was told that it sounds like the name of a bakery. Coffee + Crumbs has become, under five years, a safe space for mothers to share their stories.
Ashlee Gadd founded Coffee + Crumbs after searching for motherhood sites to submit her own writing and coming across tons of click bait articles. It was in November 2013 that she decided to do something about it, and by July 2014, she created the site from the comfort of her couch. This year, she's released a book celebrating these unique experiences as a "love letter to mothers everywhere."
With a diverse range of women, with diverse experience, Gadd is aware that Coffee + Crumbs is not the ultimate voice for motherhood, acknowledging that there are many more stories out there. She’s created a space that fosters unique experiences. I had the chance to catch up with Ashlee just in time for Mother’s Day to learn what Coffee + Crumbs is all about.
Q: How did you come up with the name Coffee + Crumbs?
A: The name Coffee + Crumbs represents calm and chaos. I wanted a name that could embody the dichotomy of early motherhood, where things can shift between peace and pandemonium in an instant. One of my girlfriends told me it sounded like a bakery. But I loved the name anyway! Still do.
Q: What drew you to begin Coffee + Crumbs?
A: Back in 2013, I had been looking for online spaces to submit my own writing about motherhood. Most of the parenting sites I had stumbled upon featured click-bait articles, or nursery decor tips and registry advice. I was looking for a safe place where mothers could simply share stories with one another; where we could write about the truth and heartache of motherhood, the stuff that is sometimes hard to talk about. When I couldn’t find a space like that online, I decided to create one myself.
Q: Why did you feel that it would be a good idea to have a collaborative blog on motherhood?
A: I never set out to make this site about a single mother or a single story; from the very start, Coffee + Crumbs was meant to be a collection of experiences. I like to think of C+C as a collective memoir, and to me, that’s what makes it special.
Q: What are some of the unique experiences the twelve women writing for Coffee + Crumb add to the narrative of motherhood?
A: Between the twelve of us, we have 33 (soon to be 34!) children. Collectively, the women who write for Coffee + Crumbs have experienced:
• Adoption through the foster system
• International adoption (Ethiopia, Latvia, China)
• Every birth story under the sun (emergency c-section, surprise vbac, easy births, hard births)
• Having twins
• Postpartum depression
• Postpartum anxiety
• Having experienced the loss of a mother
• Being an army wife/mother
• Receiving an autism diagnosis for your child
• What it’s like to be a working mom / stay-at-home mom / work-at-home mom
We also feature guest posts on our site each month, and those experiences often range outside our own (divorce, infant loss, what it’s like to have a child who is sick, giving birth in a foreign country, etc).
Q: Have you ever been put in the awkward space of being considered the voice for ALL mothers?
A: Coffee + Crumbs is definitely not the voice for all mothers, and I hope that women know that. Even with the medley of writing we receive from guest writers, there are still tens of thousands (probably more!) of unique experiences that we’ll never be able to accurately portray due to language and/or cultural barriers, etc. But one of the things I love most about writing about motherhood is that while our circumstances may be different, often there are universal themes or feelings that intersect. Loss is loss. Joy is joy. Grief is grief. A mother’s love can be known and felt and understood in every place, in every language. I believe we’ve captured a portion of that love in the stories we tell at Coffee + Crumbs.
Q: How are you celebrating Mother's Day?
A: We’re sort of doing Mother’s Day weekend over here. Saturday I’m going to brunch with my girlfriends, and then spending the afternoon alone (hallelujah!). Sunday we’re going to church, having lunch with my parents, and then I’m hoping to make it to an evening yoga class. If I get homemade cards from my kiddos, I think that’ll seal the deal.