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Mommy blogger finds receptive audience

St. James Hall hosts Listen to Your Mother event this weekend
Karen Barre (with Addison, 7, Nathan, 1, and Joshua, 5) takes the microphone tomorrow at St. James Hall as part of Listen to Your Mother. Photo Cindy Goodman

Karen Barre was never officially diagnosed with post-partum depression, but looking back on the dark time after she gave birth to her second child, just 21 months after welcoming her firstborn into the world, there’s no denying how scared and alone she felt.

Three years later, when Barre was pregnant with her third child, she was terrified she’d once again fall into the same depression, so she made an appointment with a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist advised her to carve out two hours for herself each week and dedicate that time to doing something she loved.

“I couldn’t think of one thing that I loved to do. Even if I could get a babysitter or I could find the time, I didn’t even know what I would do,” Barre recalls. “That’s so sad.”

A friend, amused by Barre’s funny Facebook posts about motherhood, suggested she write a blog. So she decided to give it a go, spent some free time at the library with her laptop, and launched Spill it Mom ( in the spring of 2015. The blog offers a bluntly honest and humorous take on life with three young children, who are now seven, five and one.

In addition to carving out writing time, Barre also joined a North Shore mothers group and quickly learned that she wasn’t the only one who felt exhausted and overwhelmed.

“They totally supported me and they were honest with me about how they suck at mothering and how they fail,” she says with a laugh.

Through her blog, Barre hopes to create a similar community online for new moms who may not have the same social support network. The positive feedback she receives from readers who appreciate her candour and can relate to her daily ups and downs keeps her motivated to continue writing.

“I didn’t experience any depression with the third [child],” Barre says. “I don’t know why — there’s probably lots of reasons — but I know for sure that some of it is to do with the community of women that I had through that mom group, and also doing something for myself that I loved and writing.”

Many of her blog entries feature light-hearted parenting confessions: the time she bribed her daughter with unhealthy snacks to make her watch more TV; the time her resourceful baby found an empty beer bottle in the recycling bin and turned it into a new toy; or the time her kids were fighting over stale crackers that had fallen between the couch cushions and then they cried when their mom ate them all (What? She was starving).

“I just think that humour is a way to reach people that’s really non-threatening and can break down walls really fast,” Barre says. “If you’re laughing about your day or the hard things that happened, it melts people’s defensiveness and it’s a way to connect with people.”

Between the humorous blog posts, Barre also shares her experience with the darker side of parenting. This Saturday, she’ll read a very personal piece she wrote about post-partum depression at Listen to Your Mother, a one-day live staged event that gives local writers the opportunity to share their stories of motherhood.

Hosted by children’s entertainers (and moms) Robyn Hardy and Lorraine Pond of Bobs & LoLo, the event is being produced locally by the Good Mother Project, in partnership with the Listen to Your Mother national organization, and will feature readings from 13 writers and bloggers.

Since its inception, Listen to Your Mother has spread to 41 cities across North America, each hosting similar events on or around Mother’s Day. Partial proceeds from this inaugural Canadian production will go toward the Pacific Post Partum Support Society.

Barre has only just grown comfortable with putting her writing online for all to see, so the thought of reading such a deeply personal story in front of a live audience is admittedly nerve-racking.

But her goal in presenting at Listen to Your Mother is much the same as her goal in writing a parenting blog.

“I hope there’s a mother or two in the audience who needs to hear that she’s not the only one that is struggling or that’s having a hard time and that she’ll get through it, and her kids will be OK, and she will be OK,” Barre says.

Though post-partum depression is something she would wish on no one, it’s an experience that she believes has helped her build a better self.

“I feel like going through that made me a stronger person, and so I just want to offer encouragement to moms who feel like they’re not doing great.”

Listen to Your Mother, Saturday, April 30, 7:30 p.m. at St. James Hall, 3214 W 10th Ave.. Tickets are $20 at More info at