How many friends do you have?
I have a handful of ‘real friends’ who I love dearly and hold very close to my heart. And I also have a whole tonne of what sometimes feel like ‘imaginary friends’…
That may sound odd to some people, but when I had Ivy, I started using social media a lot more than I had before. And it wasn’t because I was bored or didn’t want to spend time with my child. It was actually the complete opposite. It was for the support that was suddenly accessible from hundreds of other people going through the exact same things as I was.
Chances were, if I was awake for the tenth time that night with a baby who just wouldn’t/couldn’t settle and just needed to be cuddled, that there were a whole lot of others in the same position. Someone else who was wide awake at 3am. In fact, quite often more than just 1 person wide awake at 3am.
Rather than hide away and become withdrawn, I chose to reach out to those in the same boat.
Now these people weren’t always right next door- in fact some of them weren’t even in the same country, let alone the same town! And that is the magic of social media, it can bring together a whole host of people that in ‘real life’ would never have met one another. And through the platforms available these people connect over mutual interests, similar problems…and more often than not to just lend a listening ear from someone that understands. Someone who wants to offer support and help you overcome whatever it is you are dealing with. Whether that is a constipated baby…a bottle refuser…a sleep thief…a lack of bond with baby…the intense love you have! Or perhaps it’s just a chance to share and discuss the milestones, the amazing thing your baby has just done for the first ever time.
Now don’t get me wrong, I share these things with my ‘real friends’ too, but sometimes a child’s first ever try of broccoli just isn’t that interesting to those that aren’t ‘in that moment’ right now. Especially if they don’t have children, or their children are fully weaned and now screw their faces up at the thought of broccoli. Sometimes those that aren’t ‘in that moment’ find it really difficult to offer the support/conversation you need at that time in your parenting journey.
For me, social media provided support, it gave me a network of ‘friends’ that I could rely on to be there for me any time of the day, to know what to say, and to fully embrace even the tiniest of problems.
Since having Ivy, this network of ‘friends’ has grown and grown and I couldn’t tell you how many people I interact with on a regular basis about motherhood and all it’s ups and downs. But that doesn’t matter, what’s matters is that there is ALWAYS someone there, going through the same things, ALWAYS someone there to listen and ALWAYS someone that cares and wants to support me.
Today I went to @mamabearofone’s daughters birthday party- and although Jamie is someone I met for the first time in ‘real life’ when our daughters were just 4/5weeks old…the majority of our relationship has occurred through social media. Our busy life’s don’t always match up and we always seemed to work the wrong days. But we are such close friends, because of our connection on instagram. And I very much see Jamie as one of my very dear close friends.
Whilst there today, I had the opportunity to meet one of these ‘imaginary friends’ for the first time in real life!! Today I met @beccyandbaban for the first ever time. I have interacted with Beccy through social media for the best part of 2 years and yet we had never actually met. We arrived at the same time and we waved and said ‘hey’ like we’d known each other for years. Beccy made me a cup of tea and we started chatting as if we were the best of ‘real friends’. I left that party, not feeling like I’d made a new friend, but more like I’d reconnected with an old one. It turns out once we have moved house, we will be living very close by to each other and I am certain that we will become firm ‘real friends’ as well as continuing our online relationship, following each other’s journeys through social media and being there for each other, on the tough days, through the celebrations, and just in general…supporting one another from a distance as well as face to face.
So how many friends do you have?
How many of them are ‘real’?
Do you have a network of online friends?
Mine are my support network- the people I turn to knowing they will fully understand even the smallest issue. Mine have kept me sane on the darkest of days. Mine have laughed with me over the silliest of things. Mine have held my hand and supported me through tough times. Mine have helped me to know that I am not alone…not even at 3am!