Sometimes the idea of packing up kids to head off to a playdate can be more than I'm willing to deal with. Also, I often find that the idea of trying to get to know someone in person can be overwhelming, especially for people who sometimes struggle with social situations. Making mom friends can often be like dating -- Does she like me? Is she judging my parenting right now? What happens if I don't like her, but then keep running into her?
Thanks to the internet, though, we as moms have the amazing opportunity to skip the crappy dating stage, and make some awesome friends. I know some people find the internet impersonal, but honestly, it really doesn't have to be. Done right, you can tailor-make support just where you need it, with just the right people for it to be a positive thing.
I don't mean to be sappy, I don't, but my little friends who live in my computer mean the world to me.
And yes, of course, I have friends outside the internet as well. Cool enough, half of them I've met online, or in the case of a couple, I went to school with and as they became mothers, we reconnected online and now hang out again in person, as very different people than we used to be. I also sadly moved away from some women I loved dearly, but because of the internet, can keep in touch with them, watch their children grow and still feel like I'm a part of their lives from miles, and sometimes even oceans away.
Some of the women I've known and come to care about deeply through the internet, I've now known for over four years or more, through marriages and divorces, births and losses, great joy and great heartache. Yes, seriously. And best of all, many of these girls talk to each other on the phone, on Skype, and even fly across the country to meet each other.
I know to some, especially husbands, "internet friends" can seem weird, or they don't understand how you can bond with people online like you would in person, but I promise, you totally can. In fact, one of my favorite things about the web is the specific support groups. I'm in religious groups, food groups, book groups, gaming groups, friendship groups both large and small, and targeted parenting groups, also both large and incredibly small and close-knit.
It's nice to be able to have somewhere to go to talk about anything, and know that those women there already are on a similar page, so whenever you talk about your kid's sleep, you don't have to debate CIO, or when you talk about discipline, it doesn't derail into an argument about spanking. Popular opinion or not, I don't really like getting parenting advice in larger groups or non-specific groups because a lot more time is spent arguing than helping. Plus, in a small, tight-knit group, these people know you, your family, your kids ... they can remind you of things that happened in your own life awhile ago and help you put together puzzle pieces you might have missed. And being the internet means I can log on at noon or midnight and likely find someone to talk to, or even call if I need to.
As a mom, I would have never learned about breastfeeding a kid with reflux or how to better my car seat practices without the lovely women I've met online, and now when I hear "friends", I automatically think of these ladies. For all the bad press the internet gets, it can be a mom's best friend too ... or at least help her find some.
Enough sap ... do you have some online friends you cherish?