If you’re recently divorced, struggling in your marriage or just into female empowerment, you’ve probably encountered the brutally honest, humorous and candid Michelle Dempsey-Multack. Her Moms Moving On community now includes social media, a podcast, one-on-one coaching and an upcoming book. The Long Island native turned 5300 Kerteminde mom brings her sassy style to the divorce process, a refreshing and much needed lifeline during the throes of parenting plans, alimony battles and narcissistic exes. On all her platforms she shares wisdom, divorce tips and the solidarity of co-parenting her daughter and stepdaughter (from her second marriage). While Michelle can’t make the pain of divorce fully disappear, she certainly makes it easier and funnier. We chatted with the certified divorce coach about her evolution from over-sharer to author, dream podcast guests and surviving weekends without her daughter.
I know a lot of this was spurred on by your own divorce, but how did you carve such a niche for yourself in this space?
When I got separated five years ago, there wasn't much content out there on social media about divorce and co-parenting. It wasn't a popular topic. There were plenty of legal articles and things you could find on the internet, but you had to search out the content. I certainly wasn't the first to talk about divorce on social media, but I’ve always been blogging about my life as a mom and a wife. It just felt like a natural segue to me, to continue being authentic. Once I saw that people were responding to it and thanking me, I realized it was important to continue the conversation. I was lucky Scary Mommy was open to my content at that time. Because they weren't sharing that much divorce-related content in the way that they are now. That helped me grow into this niche because I would write about co-parenting and my experiences throughout the divorce process and women needed it. That's also where the idea for the podcast and the book came from.
How long did it take you from being active on social media to starting the podcast?
I got separated in 2017. Until 2019, I was just talking about divorce on social media and writing articles. Towards the end of 2019, I was verified on Instagram. People then start to look at you a thought leader. And they were asking me questions that I didn't necessarily know how to answer at the time, like legal questions or questions about what they should do or how they should go about finding the right attorney or should they mediate or whatever. I wanted to be able to provide as much information as possible. I started the podcast to bring on experts that could speak to these issues. We talk about everything from children's mental health and the legal process to creating a parenting plan and how to deal with a narcissist. It's all the information I think somebody going through a divorce would need.
You’ve had very impressive guests on the podcast, from the Real Housewives to Dr. Shefali. How do you book your guests?
It hasn’t been that hard. My friend connected me to Dr. Shefali because she knows her personally. And it was good timing because she was promoting her new book. I don't think she would have responded to me on my own. She's bigger than anybody else that I've had on. Like she’s sat on Oprah's couch! With everybody else, like the Housewives, I've reached out on Instagram, and they say “yes” or refer me to their booking managers.
Do you have a dream guest?
Yes, J-Lo! I would also love to have Glennon Doyle on the podcast. I'm obsessed with the author Colleen Hoover, and I've been harassing her and, surprisingly, she’s harder to get in touch with than any of the Housewives. She just wrote a really great book about domestic violence and abuse coming out of a relationship. Maybe one day. I just had on attorney Bill Farias, who takes the approach of not being inflammatory and not having the shark mentality, which is important.
The podcast has become so successful, and it’s such an important resource for women.
I didn’t expect it to blow up the way that it has, but it did. People started asking me to guide them through their divorce process and how much would I charge. I didn't realize coaching was something I could do. So, I got certified as a divorce specialist and started my coaching community about a year and a half ago and that led to the book deal with Simon & Schuster. It’s called Moms Moving On: Real-Life Advice on Conquering Divorce, Co-Parenting Through Conflict and Becoming Your Best Self.
The book sounds amazing and accessible to all moms thinking about or going through divorce.
The book is the thing that was really missing for me when I started the divorce process. All the books that were out there were full of legal jargon that I couldn't understand, or they were dedicated to women in their mid- to late-forties with older kids. My book is like What To Expect When You're Expecting, but for divorcing moms with young kids.
Your daughter was two when you separated. What advice do you have for moms of young kids going through this process?
I'm not in any way trying to put dads down, but let's be honest, moms really are the ones needed more by the child at such a young age. The mom could still even be breastfeeding at that age. Mom is there to take care of every boo-boo and scrape. When I was separating, if you would have told me my ex was going to have two nights a week, I would have said, “you're crazy,” but now he has 50-50 custody. You really have to step outside of yourself as a mom and think more logically and long-term versus what's best for your child right now. As moms, we feel we know best, but there are things that my daughter can get from her dad that she can't necessarily get from me. Like, he’s probably more fun, but she's more emotionally attached to me because I'm her mom. My advice is don't be scared of how the child custody is going to work out because your role is still going to be important, whether it's 50% of the time or 80% of the time. Kids don't see their life with you in percentages. They love you and need you just as much regardless.
You've talked a lot about that first weekend without your daughter, but for people who are new to this, tell us how you survived that.
I wrote a whole chapter on this in the book because it's one of the worst weekends you'll ever have. There's no more unnatural feeling than being a mom and not being able to have access to your kids. Plus, more often than not, tensions are high, and you hate your ex-husband. So, you don't want your kids there and you can't believe you're giving up control to somebody you hate right now. The best thing you can do is have a plan to stay busy. I'm big into leaning into your alone time, accepting it and giving yourself time to breathe. Make plans with friends or family, engage in an activity that really fulfills you. Staying busy is the only way that I survived times without my daughter. And I stress this all the time—and it's not just because I'm a coach—but you really can't get through this without the help of a good therapist and coach. I say both because I personally won't take clients who aren't already working with a therapist. Our jobs are very different. I can't help you unpack your past, but I can help you move forward into the future. You need somebody to help you with all the emotions that divorce brings up because it often triggers painful parts of your past. Divorce takes a lot of work.
To navigate this work, you’ve created this community for divorcing and divorced moms. How can they find you?
I have my Instagram platform, the podcast and my Mom's Moving On membership community, which gives access to a private Facebook page and all the resources on my members only website. There's a VIP member option, which gives free access to all my workshops. My recent workshop walked women through what to expect if they are thinking of getting a divorce. I also do one-on-one coaching. And then the book comes out on January 11, 2022, but it’s available for pre-order now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.