In an earlier life, Jenny Schmidt of Bailey was a high-profile television reporter who covered the O.J. Simpson trial and the Rodney King verdict. But when she traded that life for motherhood, things changed.
“When I was a high-profile reporter, some people would recognize me. … We’d go out to restaurants and get free meals, or I would get asked to celebrity events. I was treated special just because I was on television,” Jenny Schmidt said. “But then I became a momma, and nobody was following me around asking me to do anything that was special or treat me as if I was special.”
Jenny and husband Mike, principal at Platte Canyon High School, believe people should know that motherhood is pretty special on its own. So they started a new website dedicated to demonstrating that motherhood is one of the most important jobs someone can have, and that all moms should be treated like movie stars.
Jenny Schmidt — a mother to two kids, Otis, 10, and Georgia, 6 — also began giving speeches to Mothers of Preschoolers groups, and she said moms were eager to tell her their stories.
Schmidt said a woman who formerly was a banker but is now a stay-at-home mom came up to her after her speech in tears.
“She came up to me and said, ‘I feel like a low-life; I feel like a nobody. My husband doesn’t value me, and my friends don’t value me. When I go to a party and people asked me what I do, I’d say I’m a stay-at-home mom, and they’d get silent and have nothing more to ask,’ ” Schmidt recalled. “But when she was a banker, they’d be interested …”
When Schmidt realized many moms felt that motherhood wasn’t as special as being in the workforce, she and Mike set out to change that. With Jenny’s background in television production and Mike’s interest in computers, they decided to create ChannelMom.com, a site for real moms with real issues.
The Schmidts tapped into the Internet rather than television because it’s more cost-effective, and they knew they would reach more moms via the Web. According to MarketingCharts.com, of 1,000 moms surveyed, 86 percent went online more than once a day.
Still in its pilot stage, ChannelMom.com offers web-based “television shows” for mothers and families with 30-second to three-minute reality shows that focus on marital counseling, health and fitness, mom makeovers and kids’ cooking shows.
One of ChannelMom’s shows, “Save That Marriage,” focuses on a Bailey couple who volunteered to have their marital struggles videotaped and put online. The Schmidts provided the couple with a pro bono marriage counselor. They hope that showing a real couple with real issues will help other mothers and their spouses.
“There’s a fine line there between exploitation and helping them,” Mike Schmidt said. “When we say we’d like to help these people, we really do.”
The Schmidts hope someday to create a following of moms internationally, but for now are satisfied with small steps.
“We don’t mind having a network for moms based in Bailey, Colo.,” Schmidt said. “We actually kind of like the idea.”
But Jenny Schmidt wants the whole world to know how important motherhood is.
“I have huge goals,” she said. “I want millions of moms to watch this and to be helped — to feel validated in their roles as moms. Everybody’s going to tell you that the family, the building block of our society, is in huge trouble.
“Also, if we can be just a small part of building that back up and saying this stuff matters, that’s what counts. We need to help these people and not just throw movie-star magazines at them for an escape. I’d rather give them something to help their families — their marriages and their kids.”
ChannelMom.com is free to access and is kid-friendly. The Schmidts’ project is a small corporation, and they hope it will sustain itself on Internet-based advertising. But, most importantly, if they can help even one mom feel like a movie star and be validated in her role as a parent, they will be satisfied.