I have found a home in my online mom group. They are my people. They have become an integral part of my life, and are such an incredible group of open, non-judgmental, and friendly cohorts. But none of them are close to home. I’m the only member of the group living in Florida. It’s invaluable to have such a diverse collection of women in similar life stages at my fingertips, but it leaves me wanting to find these types of connections in my own community.
My distant online mom friends can’t meet me at the pool or the beach, go on stroller walks and babywearing hikes, hang out and do nothing (I’ve heard about these “do nothing” parties and they sound amazing), or just offer an understanding smile every once in a while. We all know motherhood can be isolating.
It all started with a Reddit Bumper Group I joined early in my first pregnancy. These Bumper Groups typically represent somewhere between 1,000 to 2,000 people from all over the world joining together with the common interest of having a baby due in the same month and year as you. It’s pretty great, but the conversation can get cluttered. My online mom group was formed as a spin-off of the Reddit Bumper Group and is facilitated through the Discord app to encourage real-time chatting.
We got to know each other through the stages of pregnancy, labor, and delivery (I was even chatting with them at 3 AM in the delivery room while my husband snoozed). They were there through the newborn stage, as we found our strides during infancy, and now, as we are all approaching toddlerhood.
We did a locally-themed, international Secret Santa gift exchange for the babies. I sent my recipient a St. Augustine hoodie, a crocheted alligator, and a Florida-themed baby book. I received a crocheted Viking horned baby hat, Goodnight Loon, and a “Somebody in Minnesota Loves Me” onesie. All of the moms sent Christmas cards. It was the first time I received mail from Amsterdam! Or Australia! It is such a cool thing that my daughter has virtual friends from all over.
My online mom group has been so great, but it leaves me wanting more. How do you bridge the gap from behind the screen to making similar connections in your own community? I know you guys are out there.
The solution? Reaching out to local online mom communities and going to local events and meet-ups! I’m hoping that participating in the St. Augustine Mom’s community will lead to making some real-life connections.