by Alyssa Delle Palme
Butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I pulled into a restaurant parking lot to meet some of my dearest friends for the first time. Though I’ve talked to these women for over five years, and know their deepest secrets, I’ve never met them in person. I know you must be wondering how someone can possibly be best friends with women they’ve never met before, but surprisingly our situation isn’t unique.
Recently a video circulated on social media about a group of British mothers who were all members of the same online forum for almost a decade, and finally met face-to-face. It can be hard for modern moms to meet other moms, but thankfully it’s easy to find them online.
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I didn’t have any mom friends nearby. Wanting to connect with someone who was going through a similar experience as me, I joined a secret Facebook group for women expecting babies in December 2012. Unlike the impersonal discussion boards often found on websites for women who are expecting, I discovered a diverse group of women who were open to sharing their experiences and pictures of their growing baby bumps. The camaraderie in my online mommy group continued through the births of our babies until present day.
My recent meet-up with some of these modern moms was like a visit with old friends. Meghan Blore, Lindsay Pravato and Brandi Shuetze all welcomed me with hugs and warm smiles. My anxiety about meeting them for the first time melted away and it was nice to share a meal with a group of ladies who “get it” and know me so well.
Sharing the Ups and Downs of Motherhood.
Though most of the members of our online group remain strangers, literally, we do share a real connection and have supported each other through the highs and lows of parenting. Meghan, 33, says after the birth of her second baby she posted in our online forum that she was struggling; she’s thankful to another member for suggesting she speak to her doctor about postpartum depression.
“There are so many feelings of failure and shame surrounding postpartum depression,” she notes, “but members of our group came to my side and made me feel better. Messages of support were sent and coping mechanisms shared.”
Brandi, a mother of two, has also sought support from our online birth group.
“Pregnancy and motherhood can make you feel incredibly alone at times. It’s nice to know there are other women going through the exact same thing that I’m going through.”
The women in this online group have supported each other through the ups and downs of motherhood. We have been there for each other through divorces, deaths of family members, miscarriages and most recently, a cancer diagnosis. When mother-of-three Nicola Donaldson was diagnosed with breast cancer this past summer, our group pooled resources to help Nicola pay her bills and to provide her family with ready-made meals. She says she barely has words to describe how much that meant to her.
“It was so, so wonderful and comforting for me to know that my birth group, most of whom I’ve never met in person, loved and cared about me enough to put together such a thoughtful and generous gift. When I told my friends and family about it, they were amazed at the level of connection and friendship we share. It’s really special. We are there for each other in powerful ways.”
Next year, my birth group will connect more live bodies to online personas when a member of our group, Jasmine Michaud, ties the knot. She has invited our entire group to her wedding as she considers us her best friends.
“You’ve been there throughout a huge part of my relationship. When my fiancé proposed, I had to tell you ladies immediately, even before family. I can’t imagine my life without your support, so it’s only logical to have you guys with me in person on my wedding day.”
If you don’t yet belong to an online mom group, sign up today. According to BabyCenter.com, Facebook groups are top tools for modern moms. To help keep you safe, Facebook has designed new ways to weed out potential posers by allowing group administrators to screen membership requests. Involvement in an online mommy group instantly puts you in touch with someone who has been through it already and can offer you advice. In my experience, online mom groups can be extremely helpful and educational. Sure, some groups have broken up due to misunderstandings, but for the most part these intimate groups can be judgment-free zones.
I think all the women in my online forum would agree that being part of a group that shares the ups and downs of motherhood is truly a gift.
Alyssa Delle Palme is a writer and director of Wild Roots Nature and Forest School. When she isn’t writing, she can be found playing in the forest with her two children, Henry and Rosemary. Alyssa is passionate about the outdoors and wants to help children recognize the beauty of Mother Nature.