Tag Archives: Celia Behar

San Bernardino Tragedy: Westport’s Lil’ Mamas Connection

In just a couple of years, Lil’ Mamas has grown into a big community.

It’s a robust, no-holds-barred, tell-all online family. Thousands of women laugh, cry, rant, and figured out what motherhood is all about, side by side. They answer each other’s questions, and support one another through sleepless nights, diaper explosions, and every other time moms feel so alone.

Ali Porter, and her son Mason.

Ali Porter, and her son Mason.

Lil’ Mamas has a strong Westport flavor. It was started by Ali Porter, a Westporter who left Staples in 1998 to act, work on music and hang with her boyfriend in Malibu. She’d already played Curly Sue in the film of the same name, then went on to Broadway (Urleen in “Footloose,” Bebe in the 2006 revival of “A Chorus Line”).

Celia Behar, who was Ali’s babysitter in Westport — that is, she babysat her — is Lil Mamas’ president. Several frequent contributors are Westporters too.

Women across the country are devoted to Lil’ Mamas. But as they advise each other, and follow one another’s journeys through motherhood, they feel as if they’re part of a small town.

And when tragedy strikes, the site’s many followers come together as if they really do live right down the street.

On Wednesday afternoon, group member Renee Wetzel wrote: “Please pray. My husband was in a meeting and a shooter came in. There are multiple people dead/shot. I can’t get a hold of him.” Her husband was in San Bernardino.

Renee continued to post throughout the day. Eight grueling hours later, she learned that her husband Michael was dead. He left behind 6 children.

Michael and Renee Wetzel, with their 6 children.

Michael and Renee Wetzel, with their 6 children.

The Lil’ Mamas community swung into action. In addition to providing emotional support — prayers, thoughts, loving words — Ali and Celia set up a fund.

The original goal was $25,000. They reached that in just a couple of hours. The new goal is $250,000. Right now, they’re just a few dollars shy.

Lil’ Mamas treats motherhood as less than sacrosanct. Contributors and commenters can be irreverent, sassy and saucy.

But — as Ali Porter and Celia Behar prove — Lil’ Mamas can also have big ol’ hearts.

Especially when the heart has been torn right out of one of their own.

(Click here to contribute to the Wetzel Family Fund.)

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Ali’s Merry Lil’ Mamas

Ali Porter had plenty of success — in plenty of ways — on both coasts.

Alisan Porter as Curly Sue.

Alisan Porter as Curly Sue.

A child actress, she played Curly Sue in the film of the same name. She left Staples in 1998 — after her junior year — to act, work on music and hang with her boyfriend in Malibu.

A year later she was on Broadway, playing Urleen in “Footloose.”

Then it was back to Los Angeles for music and dance; New York, as Bebe in the 2006 revival of “A Chorus Line”; then California again, where she led a band called the Canyons; and marriage.

Last July, her son Mason was born.

Suddenly, Ali was a lot less footloose.

But motherhood didn’t quell her energy, sense of humor or zest for life. Since February, Ali has been the go-to girl behind The Lil’ Mamas, a no-holds-barred, tell-all, 7-mother blog that is not your grandmother’s look at motherhood.

Not even yo momma’s.

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With fresh stories every Monday from all 7 contributors — on topics like pregnancy meltdowns, dipshit husbands and that surefire winner, lactation — it’s a must-read for new mothers.

But only those with senses of humor.

Lil’ Mamas began last year, as a private Facebook group for Ali and a few friends who were due around the same time. They compared notes, asked each other questions — “no topic was too personal or crazy,” Ali says — and eventually moved from closed Facebook group to open website.

“When you’re a brand new mom,” she notes, “there’s nothing like having another mom tell you what to do.”

Ali Porter, and Mason.

Ali Porter, and Mason.

“Everyone thinks breast feeding is awesome, but it comes with a gaggle of issues,” Ali says.

“There are plenty of experts out there, but when you have engorgement in the middle of the night, and don’t know whether to pump, this is the place to ask.”

And, she adds, “Google scares you. You always find the worst things — ‘one Diet Coke during pregnancy leads to brain damage!’ We’ve got real talk, with real women. They’ll say, ‘Relax. You can have one Diet Coke!'”

One section of Lil’ Mamas is called “We Like This Stuff.” The moms cut through the clutter of a zillion baby carriers, bath toys, bottles, pacifiers and other gear, to suggest what’s best.

Always, there’s humor. “Being a new mom can be so daunting,” Ali says. “You think you’re the only mother whose baby poops during a business meeting. We’re here to tell you it happens to everyone.”

Lauren Manning Price

Lauren Manning Price

“We” includes a healthy Westport contingent. Ali’s best friend Lauren Manning Price is one of the 7 bloggers. So is Celia Behar, who was Ali’s babysitter — as in, she babysat Ali — back in the day.

Ro — married to Westporter Alex Freedman — blogs too. And Westport’s Kate Littman Greenberg is the Lil’ Mamas “product guru.”

The local influence was on display a couple of weekends ago. A bunch of “Lil’ Mamas” from this area planned to travel to Hartford, to run in a 5K benefiting Sandy Hook families.

When Lauren heard that at least 45,000 people were expected, and the forecast was for cold and wind, she helped organize a closer benefit run starting and ending at Compo Beach, later in the day.

The Lil' Mamas (and a Big Papa), with their babies at the Compo 5K. From left: Megan Clawson Nathanson, Jaime Patel-Tangredi, Lauren Manning Price, James Fisher, Ann Curry Fisher, Rose Freedman. Rose is married to a Staples grad; all the other women went to Staples together.

Lil’ Mamas (and a Big Papa), with their babies at the Compo 5K. From left: Megan Clawson Nathanson, Jaime Patel-Tangredi, Lauren Manning Price, James Fisher, Ann Curry Fisher, Rose Freedman. Rose is married to a Staples grad; all the other women went to Staples together.

“Like most things in motherhood, everyone had to adapt,” Ali says. “It was still cold and windy at Compo, and there were all these crying babies in ‘Lil’ Mamas’ t-shirts.”

But, she notes, “Everyone still laughed. And everyone had a good time.”

Sounds like every day with Ali Porter and her band of fun, funny Lil’ Mamas.

Bonus feature below: Alisan Potter, singing with her band The Canyons. (Click here if your browser does not link directly to YouTube.)