Elizabeth and I have been online friends for some time now, and I totally admire her work at The Mom Pledge. Elizabeth sent me this post a few weeks ago, and when I re-read it yesterday in preparation for publishing, it reminded me of my own journey with blogging, and how it led me back into the light from a dark place that I was in. It also made me think of my 22 year-old niece who just had a baby on Sunday, and how I hope that she, too, has a village to help her, real, virtual or otherwise. So please enjoy Elizabeth’s piece, The Virtual Village.
When I made the decision to leave my career to care full time for my daughter, I was not the least bit prepared for the intense and overwhelming sense of isolation that would follow. Being a stay-at-home mom has been a lonely experience.
My world shrank so severely when my daughter was born and I left my job. It was shocking. It was scary. It nearly made me lose my mind. I’m not being overly dramatic; I almost had a breakdown during her first year of life.
I am an outgoing and social person. I have always had a wonderful network of friends. I thrive on interacting with others. My new reality did not give me the opportunity to do so.
Part of me was afraid to admit what I was feeling because staying home was a choice. And I was fortunate to be in a position to make it. Complaining about how lonely I was felt petty. Insensitive. Selfish.
I was also conflicted. I loved being able to stay home with my daughter. I had no regrets and knew I had made the right decision for me. My time with her was challenging, to be sure, but incredibly rewarding.
However, though I loved her with all my heart, I hadn’t intended for her to become my whole life. I’d never imagined leaving my job to be with her would lead to a life of seclusion.
It was a difficult transition. Not talking about how I was struggling made the feeling of isolation that much worse.
Thank God for the Internet.
Blogging and social media saved me. Through them I’ve gained a new network. At any given time, I can get online and connect with others. And the value of that cannot be measured.
On an average day, I interact more with friends online than in person. We could debate whether that is for better or worse, I’m sure. But I don’t care to. It is simply the reality of my life at this time.
You know how the saying goes – “It takes a village to raise a child.” I believe the village is needed for the sanity and well being of the parents.
I have a virtual village. Its members provide critical emotional support that gets me through each day. I am a better mom because those village “residents” are there when I need them.
As my daughter has grown and I’ve had more opportunity to get out in to my actual village to interact with others I have eagerly done so. But I continue to rely on and value my online friends.
In some cases, the members of my virtual village and I have gotten to know each other “in real life.” Which has been incredibly special.
For new moms I think what matters most is not how they build a support system, but that they have one. I didn’t. I blindly stepped into the abyss, and found a dark, scary place.
It took a village to bring me safely out into the light.
Elizabeth blogs about her struggles and successes as a writer and a mom at The Writer Revived. She is the author of Cease Fire: A Call to End the War Between Women, which she is currently working to get published. In March 2011 she launched The Mom Pledge, an online campaign to eradicate cyber bullying among moms. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. She loves social media!