Jody Kerzman
Stasia Mitzel and her daughters. (Megan Milbradt)

Amanda Schwartzbauer with her daughters. (Megan Milbradt)

Motherhood brings great joy, lack of sleep and tons of questions. At times, being a mom can be overwhelming. But there's a group in Bismarck Mandan that's helping moms find answers, get advice, form friendships and even get involved in the community. It's a Facebook group called "Bismarck-Area Moms" ("BAM" for short), and it's quickly becoming a go-to place for moms.

With more than 1,800 members, the Bismarck Area Moms Facebook group just might be the fastest growing page on the social networking site. The page has been online for more than a year, but recently moms have been flocking to the page.

"It's growing so fast. In one day we went from 1,783 members to 1,825 members. It is exciting to see the requests to join each day," says Amanda Schwartzbauer, who is one of the page's two administrators.

"We have grown so much that we are now able to throw parties, picnics, exchange numbers with new moms, build play groups and more," says 'Stasia Mitzel, Schwartzbauer's co-administrator.

Schwartzbauer and Mitzel are both busy moms: Schwartzbauer has two daughters, ages 4 and 4 months; Mitzel has three young daughters, a 3-year-old and 2-year-old twins. They did not start the BAM page, but they were happy to take over when the original administrator asked for help.

"We didn't know each other personally before we became BAM administrators and now we communicate a few times a week," says Mitzel. "We bounce ideas off of each other. It is so fabulous."

"We both became admins at the same time, and we would visit back and forth about issues in the group," says Schwartzbauer. "When we did meet for the first time, I felt like I had known her for ages. Now we talk almost every day -- not only about the group, but also about life in general. We have become great friends because of this group."

Because the group is made up of moms, the questions and comments on the page reflect what moms want to know. Some of the topics discussed on the BAM page on any given day include:

* Breastfeeding

* Pacifiers

* Diaper rash

* Date night

* Classroom treats

* Car seats

* Stretch marks

* Insurance

"The response time on getting an answer to your question is amazing," says Schwartzbauer. "If you post on the page there is usually a response within two to five minutes. We are all moms, and there's a good chance that out of more than 1,800 moms, there's at least one who has been through what you're going through."

Just like motherhood, being in charge of a site this big can be challenging at times. The ladies monitor posts, offer advice and sometimes act as referees.

"Sometimes it gets ugly -- it's bound to with over 1,800 women. But we can usually solve the issues fairly quickly," says Schwartzbauer.

Both say the good that comes from this page far outweighs the bad, and that's what keeps them going.

"I absolutely love the people I have met personally," says Mitzel. "There is one mom that was newer to the area and was going through a rough time with her twins. I have twins too and we met on a random play date. We have been able to help each other out with ups and downs in their development, and now we are best friends."

The group gives Mitzel, a stay-home-mom, the opportunity to get involved in the community. "I love planning the events -- the play dates and the fundraisers. We've done a few fundraisers for charities in town, and the support we've gotten from the community and especially from Thrivent Financial has been awesome," says Mitzel. "I also really love seeing people reach out and ask for help rather than guessing or ignoring it. That makes my heart happy."

It would be easy to let BAM take over their lives, but these moms are careful to keep everything in balance.

"We are hard working moms too -- we both work full-time from home, clean, cook, watch our own kids, have our own errands to run, appointments and family activities," says Mitzel. "BAM is a top priority for me because I believe in it and love what it has given me, but I still come first."

But the moms of Bismarck and Mandan aren't too far behind on their lists of priorities. And that's good news for every mom who's ever needed support from another mom.. There's a whole group of them ready to offer advice or a shoulder to cry on, and they're just a mouse click away.

Not a member of BAM? Just search "Bismarck Area Moms" on Facebook and ask to be added.

Jody is married to Brad, and they have four super-busy kids. When she isn't at one of their events, she's probably driving them somewhere.