Several years ago I read a post about “Scary Internet Friends” – you know the ones you made online and may have never met in person. It’s been so long I can’t find that original post but something about it still resonates with me.
Maybe that’s because I have my very own set of Scary Internet Friends – although I like to call them Unicorns Who Have Allowed Me To Survive Motherhood Friends! One group in particular is pretty darn special to me. You see, a little over five years ago I was pregnant with Lucas and, thanks to low progesterone, had a tough first trimester. I spent hours unable to sleep at night browsing pregnancy forums and groups. One day I was scrolling The Bump (yes, that crazy board!) and there was a post from “Christa” saying she had created a Facebook group for Mommas due in March of 2013. I requested an invite and in a matter of weeks had this awesome group of 300 women there to support me, encourage me and even call me on my BS.
There is something pretty bonding about experiencing a pregnancy with someone – even if it’s only online. Now I know you must be thinking “300 women all in one place and all with crazy pregnancy hormones is a recipe for disaster!” And yes, you’re kind of right. We certainly had our moments. Friendships formed “off line” or in more private groups and chats. We had a LOT of differing options and let me tell you a FFFC (Flame Free Friday Confession for those of you not into social media/forums) post can sometimes be far from flame-free. Then there was the great “JBB incident of 2013” where our group was kinda, sorta, maybe totally got “catfished” by someone. **Although I do want to say that I don’t think the intent of that woman was malicious and was more about issues she was battling, it certainly opened up my eyes to the reality of online friendships.** We even had a major split after our kiddos were born, although I, thankfully, remain online friends with most of our original group and love seeing their kiddos grow. There has been drama – lots of it. But you know what, there has also been support, and love and friendship. More of those three things than I can even measure.
It’s been over five years. That original group is close to half the size it was at one point. As a group we have been through the loss of a child and pregnancies, divorces, mental health emergencies, new babies, new marriages, cross country moves, major health issues (ours, our children and our loved ones), deaths of family members and so much more. We’ve watched our kiddos grow from days old to amazing almost 5 year olds. We’ve suffered through endless temper tantrums and behavioral issues together and we’ve celebrated major milestones. We’ve even helped pick out home decor or dresses for a special night out.
And I know you may be thinking it’s nuts. I mean, how can you bond with someone you’ve never met. I think part of it is we did have the security of sitting behind a computer. We could be ourselves and not worry as much about rejection (some will say the opposite is true – that we became who we wanted to people others to see – but we’ve been together so long at this point I just don’t think that’s possible). We formed real friendships in those moments. This group has made me look at parenting in ways I sometimes wasn’t comfortable with, but needed to. They have, for sure, called me out when I was being unreasonable and stood by me, unconditionally, when I wasn’t.
Mommin’ is tough – seriously, most days there are challenging moments. And some days, there are ONLY challenging moments. It’s easy to feel isolated and alone, even with friends living right next door. This group has lessened that for me, times a million! Don’t get me wrong, I have an amazing village of women who are local to me as well that I also couldn’t do this motherhood thing without. The friends who have a house you escape to when you just need a break. Who seem to have an endless supply of chocolate, cake, or wine. I wouldn’t trade those friends for anything. But I’ll never give up my mommy groups either (I have another, smaller, group of women all due the same month I was with Andrew that I love as well).
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it – It really does take a village to raise children. Sometimes that village just happens to be a virtual one.
And to my March and January Moms: I love you all. Thank you for your support and love. Your advice and your compassion. Your reality checks and your sideline cheering. Here’s to more years and milestones and memories together! XOXO!
**And one more side note. In that photo above, I’m actually logging into my March group to BEG someone to help me figure out why my normally sweet and adorable 20 month old has turned into such a difficult child. I had intended to stage a super cute photo but after a 20 minute lunch battle full of throwing food, hitting, kicking, screaming and crying I was a sweaty and upset mess and just decided to go with it while I turned to my friends for support!