When I found out I was pregnant with my eldest, Chance, the first thing I did was search for a 'Due in March 2013' Facebook group. Then I joined about 47 other 'mummy' Facebook groups. (Just me? Did anyone else do this?)
It suddenly felt like I was a part of the elite 'club' of motherhood. All of these women understood my excitement, my nerves and they seemed to know EVERYTHING about babies! So good right?!
Soon, these groups became my sounding board. Instead of boring my husband with every little pregnancy event ('Babe! I have heartburn! That makes 4 days in a row'. Thrilling stuff) - it went into the group. It was so great posting all about our pregnancies and watching our bellies get bigger together. I loved it.
Fast forward to my next pregnancy, 2 years later. Again, I joined a 'due in' group. But this time - I left a few weeks later. The good side of these groups is so bright but the bad side is so dark.
Here's a few things I learned, in my own experience.
1. The internet is a small place. Seems like a given, but remember - what you put on the internet, stays on the internet. The girls you're revealing information to may not be as friendly as you think. They may know someone who knows someone. I've seen mummy group catfights turn into real life destruction. Don't be paranoid, but be smart.
2. There will be people who parent in the polar opposite way you do. It doesn't mean you can't be friends with them. There are a BILLION ways to parent. Just because someone does it differently or doesn't agree with your method - it doesn't mean they're a bad mum. Just different! I have close friends who circumsise their sons, while I am fiercely against it. I'm passionate about my pro-vaccination views, yet I have friends who think I'm crazy for injecting my children. It takes all kinds to make the world go 'round ;)
3. You've never really seen competitiveness until now. Ahhh yes. There is nothing worse than seeing a mum posting about her child sleeping all night, while you're putting the bags under your eyes into wheel barrows, reaching for your 8th cup of coffee. If you kid is sick, there will be a sicker one. If your baby rolled over, there will be another baby who did it first. When your baby starts walking, there will be another one completing their Masters degree. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT get pulled into it. Roll your eyes, turn your phone off, go play with your babes.
4. Soak it up, but with a pinch of salt. How wonderful it is that we can connect with mums all over the world? From all different cultures, backgrounds and countries. Never before has the world been able to connect mothers like it can now. I love how beautiful that is. It's so amazing to soak up all the different walks of motherhood. I have learned SO much from other mums and it's really shaped the way that I parent my children now. But remember to always trust your own instincts. Learn everything but only apply what works for YOUR family.
5. Facebook friendships can turn into the realest of real life friendships. In saying all of this, I can safely say some of my BEST friends are from Facebook & Instagram. Maybe that's sad? I don't think it is. But I feel so lucky to say that my kids have friends that they have known from the womb. I've been in business with some of these mums. I've had emergency nappies dropped off. I've cried on their shoulders. Even just this week - a group of mums from Facebook all came together and sent us an esky full of ready meals, so we wouldn't have to cook while I'm grieving my Dad's death this week. How amazing is that?
I'm so grateful for the beautiful friendships I've formed and mumma's I've met.
You know what they say? It takes a village. Don't be afraid to build yours and be a part of other villages.