Okay, so that seems pretty normal, right? Meeting up with a friend who's in my neck of the woods. Lah-di-dah.
But here's the catch... I met Helen online. This is the first time I am meeting her face to face.
And Helen isn't the only online friend I have. I have about 30 or 40 of them. And only one other of them - Monica - have I ever gotten together with face-to-face.
Me with Monica the first time we met face-to-face, March 2012
But for some reason, I feel like I need to hide that part of my life. I feel like it makes me some gigantic geek or something to have this whole bunch of "friends" that I don't actually "know." I don't feel like I am a giant geek, but I feel like others probably perceive me that way when I share about my "online mommy friends." So I keep that part of my life, that part of my friendships, largely hidden.
Sure, we've discussed poopy diapers and sleepless nights plenty, but what I have with those ladies is deeper, and stronger, and greater than that. They are some of my closest friends. We've been through trials and hardships together, and celebrated successes and triumphs together. We've helped each other through deaths of loved ones (including a sudden death of a spouse), divorces, depression, and financial hardships. We've celebrated each other's births, career successes, weight loss, and personal triumphs. We've been shoulders to cry on, and best friends to laugh with.
When one of them was going through severe depression, we sent a care package to her to cheer her up. When one needed money to help with lawyer fees, we pooled our resources and helped out. And when I was going through a financial hardship, I posted about how difficult things were, only to have one of them send me the hugest box of clothes for my girls that I'd ever seen. (The postage alone cost nearly $40!) We literally put our money where our mouths are. We aren't just friends, we're friends who take care of each other. If one is struggling, the rest come along and help out. Its just who we are and how we operate. My "online" friends have some of the biggest hearts.
Yet, I still feel like if I talk about these friends, I won't be taken seriously. So I usually don't.
I realize I don't owe anyone an explanation about my friends; about how I know them and what they mean to me. But I feel like I owe it to them to treat them with the same pride and value I would treat any other friend. Especially because they have been more to me than a lot of other people. On some of my worst days, they have been my rock.
So, now my "dirty little secret" is out. I have online friends. There. I said it.
And I love them dearly. They are some of my favorite people. Yes, how we met may be unorthodox. It may even make me a major geek. But they're still my friends in every sense of the word, so why should I even care how others perceive me or them or the friendship we have?
So I am done hiding them. They are who they are, and how I "know" them is how I know them. If people want to have a problem with that, that's their deal. If people want to judge who we are and the very real friendship we have with one another, then its only because they can't grasp the depth of what we have. But I assure you, it is real. My friends are real people who are really awesome!
So..... Karen, Ally, Julia, Andrea, Kim, Sarah C., Sarah S., Sara D., Charity, Mandi, Stacey, Bree, Tammy, Erin, Michelle, Julie, Taryn, Jen, Helen, Lori, Brit, Caroline, Monica, Teresa, Donna, Katie, Amanda M., Amanda T., Rachel, Jaime U., Jaime D., Jaime J. (yep, there are 3 Jaimes!), Christine, Betsy, Danielle, Lisa, Leah, and Allison.....this one's for you!