Mom ISO Mom Friends: How Technology Is Helping Build A New Kind Of Village
By Taslim Jaffer
PHOTO © kali9/Getty Images
Mar 5, 2018
“Two moms of 12-month-old babies ISO another mom with a baby — and a swimming pool! In exchange, we offer our friendship, babies for your baby to play with, home-baked goods and the possibility of babysitting swaps.”
When you can’t always make it to the shower, let alone a park, it’s wonderful to know you can drop a message in a mom group to others who totally get where you’re coming from.
I read this posting in my neighbourhood’s Facebook group on a sweltering summer day last year while sipping ice-cold water from my sweating glass. Leaning back in my chair, I smiled. Amid the callouts for tradespeople recommendations and grievances about a new development in the area, this particular post was sweet and intriguing. I didn’t fit the bill — my babies are school-age — but I reached out to this woman to learn how she uses social media for a really important thing: mom-sanity.
When I had a 12-month-old baby girl nearly a decade ago, I had only had a Facebook account for a few months, using it to write cryptic Facebook statuses that nobody understood. I didn’t quite get the hang of it — it wasn’t a social space for me, just somewhere to dump a random thought in my head. And not an explicit enough thought that would tell too much. Because in those days, telling too much was reserved for coffee shop conversations.
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So I asked Berkeley, the woman from the Facebook post, about this when we spoke on the phone a few days later.
Berkeley filled me in on several new friendships that sprouted online. Sometimes it was blatantly obvious that the author was looking for a friend. She cited a post from a military wife who recently moved to the area, which opened with: “Will you be my friend?” And another: “I just moved here, who wants to come over?” Other times, friendships grew organically through conversation in the online groups. One thing lead to another, common interests emerged even outside of motherhood, and a true friendship began.
When I had a 12-month-old baby girl nearly a decade ago, I had only had a Facebook account for a few months, using it to write cryptic Facebook statuses that nobody understood.
What she loves about social media is that “someone is always there,” which, let’s face it, is a nice thing to feel when the isolation of mothering a baby kicks in. When you can’t always make it to the shower, let alone a park, it’s wonderful to know you can drop a message in a mom group to others who totally get where you’re coming from.
Berkeley says her online groups are great for bouncing ideas for anything from newborn photography sessions to birthday party planning. And the ones that became offline friends are her go-to for playdates and kid-free social nights.
The more Berkeley talked, the more I envisioned a village not unlike one our grandparents raised babies in. Neighbours had open doors, children ran back and forth among them. Mothers called on each other for recipes and remedies. The method was more old-fashioned (an actual knock on the door or a call on the telephone to initiate a conversation rather than a message in an inbox) but the idea is the same. I think where I was in my new motherhood days was a space smack in the middle between that and today’s digital village.
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By the end of our conversation, it dawned on me why I felt compelled to contact Berkeley: the vulnerability in these outright calls for friendship is so different from anything I have ever allowed myself to experience. It should be celebrated. Remember when it wasn’t cool to let people know you didn’t have friends? Gone are those days! Not only do new moms need friends, they’re creating advertisements about it. What a step in the direction of self-care! How amazing is it to know what you want and then ask for it?
I don’t know if there’s a generational difference in this. Maybe they’ve had more access to buzzwords like self-care. Maybe they’re just a generation who looks out for themselves, who’ve had babies later and with that more time to figure out the things that are worth maintaining in their lives.
They’ve definitely got mom sanity goals nailed and for that, I give them a virtual thumbs up!