They begin with those closest to you ,your siblings then goo-ing at other babies in mammy and baby classes, to those fleeting friendships you make in the playground . Onto your first day in creche, preschool, playschool, establishing if you are lucky real friendships from primary ,through secondary , college, work, life.
New jobs bring various degrees of friendships into your life, work colleagues, work friends, casual and again maybe strong friendships, and then you move department,company ,country . Some end when you receive your p45 and some possibly only lasting since the decade of social media began.
And then there is a friendship which tends to be more female dominated and I for one am very proud to have met friends through .The online friendship.
For me I entered the world of forums when I was newly engaged buzzing with the excitement of planning my wedding nearly ten years ago at this stage and stumbled across a forum dedicated to all things wedding, or so I thought. This forum stretched beyond all things wedding ,it was vast from general chit chat to trying to conceive , travel to hobbies . Nearly ten years on and I have made lasting friendships with a small group of women I’m proud to call friends. We don’t get to see each other very often but they have been there with me since I first typed excitedly on my laptop in a trance-like state as I fawned over the sparkle on my left hand as I pronounced myself to be an August 2009 bride.
Then came the “I’m pregnant with twins oh my god” panic on Google and I found a plethora ( I always wanted to use that word !) of sites for pregnancy but little for multiple pregnancies. Then I stumbled across IMBA ( The Irish Multiple Births Association) a fantastic charity set up by multiple parents to support families of twins,triplets and quads and on a local level I was introduced to the Limerick mammies .
This group of women are amazing all with their own stories to tell but I’m grateful I get to share my life as a twin mammy with these women and have a bond that I know will last until we are possibly welcoming our multiple grandchildren ( tongue firmly in cheek here ). We have shared nights out, vats of coffee, play dates and mammy only nights but more than that we have shared a rollercoaster of emotion that only a multiple mam can understand ( therein lies another blog post coming soon).
There’s another group of special women in my life and these women are from all walks of life ,all over the country and are genuinely some of the loveliest women I know. They have shared my dilemmas over choosing a neutral gender paint for a nursery incase we had boy/girl twins to my fears when I was hospitalised during my pregnancy . They have calmed me down at 4am when one of the kids were peaking a temperature and have reduced me to tears in a good way with my Kris Kindle present this year. I don’t get to see them as often as I like due to geography but when we do I am guaranteed to leave smiling.They are my August mammies, special exception to us since the twins arrived 5 weeks early and I want to publicly embarrass them by saying thank you for your support ,laughs and tears over the years.
I don’t know why there is still somewhat of a stigma attached to online friendships, especially from those of the other sex. In my opinion if dads in particular had that 2/3/4am support from dads in the same situation I think they would feel less alone in the mad world of fatherhood. That being said the first time you do meet anyone new there is the momentary panic of god how well do I know this person and nervousness is natural but I see it no different to having established friendships with people in the same college class, course,gap year travel, gym class, writing group, book club , get my drift?
To all the naysayers out there who know no different think of all the different people you are never going to meet. The interests and passions you might have in common with someone that no-one in your conventional friendships to date have had an interest in . The chance to say thank you to those who might support you in an hour of need when you needed help.
The chance to experience as much of different lives as you can , to laugh and share. Isn’t that what its all about.