We live in houses separate from one another, living our lives and taking care of our children, maybe meeting up a few times a week with other people. That’s our modern society. But I think somewhere in there, we have the memory of what it should be like. Where we are all together, cooking and talking and crying and caring for one another’s children.
Now, it’s quick playdates where we try and get to know a person, all the while nursing babies and chasing toddlers and leaving for naps before we really get anywhere deep with people. It’s all ‘water cooler’ conversation and it drives me batty. We clean our homes by ourselves and cook dinner by ourselves and take care of kids by ourselves and we do it day after day after day. We get on social media and ‘see’ what other people are doing and we are inundated with comparisons. It’s exhausting. And I think the women who came before us would balk and cringe and say we are insane for living this way. We probably are. We talk about wanting and needing this ‘village’, this ‘tribe of people’ to carry us through life. And I admit, those words elicit a thrill in my heart. My shy, introverted, heart. A while back I kept seeing this quote bouncing around the internet, ”Disconnect, in order to connect.’ And it shamed me. It felt like my iPhone was a hot potato and I needed to drop it quickly and say goodbye to technology. That might be an exaggeration, because I have friends that I can hug and talk to and drink coffee with, but I don’t have this big ‘village’ of women everyone is talking about. I don’t live in my hometown, where you know people and already have a built in community. Let me say it is HARD to get ‘in’ with people in a new town. People have their people, and sometimes they just don’t want new ones. Sometimes, you meet a great mom, but her kids are older than yours, and there isn’t a 7 year-old on the planet who wants to have a playdate with a 3 year-old. Coupled with the fact I have a preschooler and a baby and nap schedules (that I like to keep)…I just find myself home more often than not.
I was talking to my sister-in-law about this a couple of weeks ago, venting my frustration about having a very sensitive child and the baby’s nap schedule and struggling to get out to just one MOPS meeting for goodness sake. She remind me that for an introverted mom like myself, the process of finding friends and joining groups could potentially bring on an equivalent amount of stress to the amount already placed on them by a child wanting to be by their side all day. And that perspective made me feel better, and reminded me I shouldn’t be beating myself up or feeling like I ‘should’ be doing something because that’s what I think everyone else is doing. A couple of years ago I started writing again, and blogging, and putting out my ‘feelers’ with social media (Instagram in particular). I was blown away by the amazing community of women I met there. I use social media for good (read more about that here), for no reason other than to meet other mamas. Those squares have been a beautiful place for me to connect with people, be deep in conversation and life.
The other day I stumbled across a post on Instagram from a friend of mine who is new to the social media platform (and with her permission I share with you here), saying ‘I can’t seem to find my way around here. I don’t have a thing-I’m not a photographer. I’m not trying to promote myself or sell anything, and my posts don’t have a particular theme to them. I started this account because I thought it might be fun to document life as it is, and I’m trying not to worry too much about being unfollowed or judged.’ Let me tell you, Amy is one of the most fascinating people I know. She and her English husband met and fell in love in one night while walking the streets of Paris. She’s traveled to almost every country you can think of, has scuba dived, and lived in New Zealand for two years. She cares about social issues and is a wonderful mama to a beautiful toddler named Gwen. She posts amazing photos of her home in Portland and I can’t get enough of all the delicious food she hits up on her lunch break. Her ‘thing’ is her life. In other words, we have access to her! Because of social media, we can connect and meet people like this. We can know them. It isn’t the same as drinking wine together or going on a walk bundled up with our babies. But it can be a darn good place to start.
And so I say this to you, if you’re like me. It’s okay to connect with people in ways that make you feel comfortable. Maybe you’re a full-time working mom and meeting up with people is just too hard with your schedule. Maybe you’re in a new city. Maybe you’re painfully shy. It’s okay to find friends on the internet. This does not mean you should be mindlessly scrolling through Facebook on your phone (I disabled this social media app from my phone). This does not mean you should be staring down at your screen when the flesh and blood of friends are in front of you. This does not mean you should grow a huge and false network of ‘followers and friends’ (this is not true connection). This does not mean you should hide behind your computer screen. It means, it’s okay to use the internet to build friendship and community. It’s a nice dream to think about us all living together, helping and baking and loving, but it isn’t our reality. Keep plodding away at those playdates and library groups and exercise classes. Yes, yes, meet people. Yes, have people over for dinner. Cultivate and grow your friends. Talk to new moms. Let people in. But also, don’t be ashamed of connecting online.
I thought it would be fun to share just a small handful of the women I’ve met online (and in person) over the past couple of years. It’s so incredible we get to know people in this way! Head on over and say hi to them, get to know them, let them get to know you.
(from left to right, top to bottom)
Amy from @fromdifferentworlds : I probably already did enough praise singing up above, but isn’t it nice to put a face to a name?
Kelli from @prettyprairie : Kelli lives on the Canadian prairie and is married to a German farmer (do I have that right Kelli?) Ha! Her daughter, Greta, was born early and spent a lot of time in the NICU before being able to join her family at home. Kelli is so thoughtful and sweet (she even sent me a coffee gift card for my birthday one year!), and she’s determined! She just finished going back to school and is working as a pediatric OT! I simply adore Kelli.
Kate from @katespiller : Kate is a Seattle mama and I just deeply admire how much her family puts outdoor play and adventure first and foremost as a priority. And living in a big city where it rains a lot, that is no easy feat. I’ve so enjoyed watching her transition to mothering two children with so much grace.
Whitney from @lifealaskanstyle : Whitney is one of the first mama friends I made through blogging. We text from time-to-time, and when I was pregnant with Ellinor she handmade me the sweetest bonnets and onesies for me. Whitney is the wife of a lineman, and she parents her son Riggs and daughter Raina solo much of the time. She’s a marathon runner and Alaska native and just all sorts of wonderful. I hope to hug her in ‘real life’ someday.
Andrea from @andrealanejacobs : Andrea, my name soulmate, and I have exchanged many messages and emails over the past couple of years. I’ve shipped her boy clothes, she’s mailed me handmade goods from the farmers market. I so appreciate her genuine and creative heart. She’s got a touch of wanderlust and a touch of need for roots, her writing is outstanding, her stance on motherhood real and refreshing. Her and her husband are currently building their own homestead!
Nancy from @ncreimer3 : I met Nancy when I first entered the blogging world on a public scale and I’ve really enjoyed knowing her the past couple of years. She lives in Canada and when our first babies were little we were *this* close to crossing paths in Victoria, B.C. once. I just know she’s one of those women I would see for weekly playdates and walks and family barbecues if we lived close to one another.
Kelsey from @kelsey_pardonmf : Admittedly, I haven’t gotten to know Kelsey quite as well as some of the other mamas here, but her posts constantly crack me up. She’s witty and gorgeous and is a fashion extraordinaire…and get this…she has four children and still manages to look fabulous all of the time. I admire how positive and open she is about parenting all of her babies.
Hannah from @hannaheterpstra : Oh, Hannah. I can’t say enough glorious things about this woman. She lives on Prince Edward Island in Canada with her family and is currently expecting her third child. She’s so full of grace and radiant love for people. Hannah is another one of my very first ‘social media and blogging’ friends, and I wish so badly we were neighbors. She’s the kind of friend I think we all need in our life and she has a huge heart for serving others.
Jessie from @jessieemslie : Jessie is one of my first ‘meet in real life someone you met online’ friends. Ha! She drove down with her son Luke and our boys played on the beach while newborn Ellie napped in the Ergo, all the while the two of us cramming talk about religion, babies, sleep, travels, and marriage into 1.5 hours of time together. Jessie is just…so real. Every photo she shares online is an accurate and exact depiction of who she is. She hikes and climbs, travels and is passionate about sharing those outdoor values with her kid(s). She recently moved from Washington to Colorado and I already miss her so!
Nancy from @nancypants13 : The first thing you need to know about Nancy is that she has the most adorable children on the earth (and that’s saying a lot, because I’m pretty fond of my own babies). Seriously though, Griffin and Goldie are so precious. The second thing you need to know is that she is hilarious. Mostly, you need to know that she’s an incredible mama. Her husband works some very manly job in Alaska that requires him to be gone for weeks at a time, and Nancy tackles those days with determination, honesty, and a lot of humor.
Emily from @em_walrath : Emily is a new mama to a beautiful baby boy, and I’ve loved watching her fall in love with Sam. Her husband is in the military and she’s been doing a lot of the new days solo, which I admire, because….well when my husband is 30 minutes ‘late’ from work I go kind of crazy. Ha! Emily is so sweet, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know someone a little bit different than me.
Angela from @angela_strand : What would a post about amazing women be without taking about Angela? The founder of NW Healthy Mama?! I met Angela online a few years ago after she read a hiking blog post I wrote on the Washington Trails Associate page. We quickly realized we had a lot in common and have been friends ever since. Angela is the real deal. And we FINALLY get to meet and hug face-to-face in just a few short weeks!
Jessica from @piganddac : Jessica is probably the funniest woman I’ve ever ‘met.’ She writes for Huffington Post, Scary Mama, and recently published her own book. She’s a home birthing and home schooling mama of two of the cutest little boys; Pig and Dac. Her writing voice comes across so loud, even my husband laughs when he reads her posts.
Jessie from @jessieolean : Jessie lives in Idaho and has a heart of pure gold. She mountain bikes and takes gorgeous photos and always has such uplifting things to say. Her take on the motherhood experience is so grounding. Not to mention she’s answered about a million emails from me with photography questions. She’s just a lovely person.
Heather from @crookedsmileheather : Heather found me online and really reached out to connect with me, which I so appreciate. Our daughters seem to have mirror personalities and I wish they could ‘play’ together in real life. Heather is so encouraging and sweet, and again…can she please just live down the street so we can hang out?
Jenny from @nenny_beth : Jenny has the kind of humor I can really get behind; she’s hilarious and so much fun. We were both pregnant this last year at the same time with very close due dates and our daughters are just a week apart. And the best part is we both have Ellinors! Ellie Jo and Ellie Beth are destined to be friends. In those early postpartum days we would text each other in the middle of the night during feeds or text one another pictures of leaking boobs, breast pumps, and the like. That’s how you know you’ve found a friend.
Ileana from @illywhoblog : Ileana lives in California and is a stay at home mama to her two precious children. We met one another while blogging and I have to say how kind and genuine she is. We’ve exchanged many messages about sleep and the transition to two kids, traveling, and the love of coffee. Not too long ago she had a creepy incident where her son’s photo was stolen so while she understandably doesn’t share their faces online anymore, I can reassure you they are darling.
Amber from @riversandbeaus : Amber is another Washington state native and I’m completely obsessed with her family’s adventurous spirit. All summer long she shares photos of their hiking and camping excursions. She’s gorgeous and sweet and her boys adore her.
Kerry from @xokerryblog : I just ‘met’ Kerry this year and have loved getting to know her. She had her first baby, Parker, around the same time my daughter was born and it has been such fun watching them grow up. Kerry is super crafty and does all sorts of fun blog posts. She doesn’t live too far from me and I think a get together is a must!
April from @littletreesandme : This Oregon mama reminds me of some kind of kindred spirit I’ve known my whole life. April has a love for photography and the outdoors and birth. She captures the essence of motherhood so beautifully. I’m hoping next summer I can grab my hiking pack and hit the trails with her.
And there you have it, just a few of the lovely women who grace the internet. With all the bad, the terrifying, the evil, and the ill in the world; it also full of beautiful, kind, loving people. There are huge pockets of the world with women making a difference. Artists and makers, mothers, friends, writers, photographers, bakers and crafters, serving and loving and raising up amazing children. Get to know them.