First a story: After M.E. was born, I received an email from someone who is a part of Loaves and Fishes, a ministry at my church that organizes volunteers to bring food to families in need such as those who have welcomed a new baby.
This someone had signed up to bring me a meal, initially not thinking she knew much about me. After she’d added her name to the list to help out, she saw me at Mass and I looked familiar to her. Then she saw my name again and realized she’d already “met” me through my blog and had been reading my posts for quite some time (in fact, some of her comments had given me just the pick-me-up I needed during some rough patches).
It turns out Violin Mama, as she’s known in Blogville, not only lived miles away from me, but she also went to my same parish.
Talk about serendipity.
So we chatted online via email and then later talked in-person at church and also had a nice conversation when she dropped off my meal (a delicious sausage and vegetable mixture served over hunks of crusty bread – yummy).
Just yesterday we decided to meet at a nearby park and allow our daughters to play together. Here we connected even more, sharing our joys and struggles with motherhood and how we both were prayerfully considering homeschooling among other topics.
Later at home, I thought, this is where it’s at.
This is where blogging meets the real world, where you can look into the eyes of a virtual friend turned flesh and share what’s on your mind. It’s where you can actually see the finest details instead of just read about them – like the freckles scattered like stardust across her child’s creamy face. It’s where you can hear your friend laugh instead of seeing “LOL” in your combox. It’s where true friendships blossom. It’s where our children see their moms connecting with other humans instead of staring at an impersonal, glowing rectangle.
It’s where I want to be spending more of my life.
I’m thankful I started blogging. As an at-home mom, writer, brooder, thinker, and someone who craves alone time, I needed an outlet. These days, I also need something to fill the many nights when my husband is at work or has to study and I find myself craving adult interaction after my young children are asleep. I’ve found great comfort and plenty of inspiration in the Blogosphere. Reading others’ blogs has encouraged me as a wife, mother, Christian, writer, chef, friend, newbie homeschooler, and computer nerd.
Yet, there’s always the temptation to allow blogging to erode my time. I want the Internet to make my life easier, not harder. I don’t want to become a slave to technology or to allow it to swallow up time that could be devoted to better pursuits such as praying, playing, and reaching out to new friends.
I’m thankful for this community I’ve found, but there will always or always should be a need for me to seek out true physical human connections. Blogging, emailing, Twittering, Facebooking – all these technologies – should complement our life, not take over it.
When we find ourselves spending more time nurturing online relationships than the real ones in our lives, there’s a problem. When we find ourselves shooing our kids away to check one more blog post or to shoot off one more email, there’s a problem. When you start to compare yourself to other bloggers and start to see them as superhuman and yourself as a super loser in comparison, there’s a problem. We need to spend time with “live” friends to see their humanness. We need to see that life isn’t always as peachy as the photographs on a blog.
Truth is, I want to catch more than a quick, edited glimpse into the life of others. I want real friends whose hearts I can explore. I also want a real community to lean on – one that brings meals when my baby is born, one that hugs me with comforting arms when I feel alone, and one that invites me to step away from my computer and to head outside to a park where our kids can stretch their legs and clasp hands with their new friends.
When we were leaving the playground, Violin Mama’s oldest daughter called out, “God bless you.” Indeed He already has.