When Online Mom Groups Make You Feel Less Alone

Being a mom can be exhausting. Carrying around the emotional weight of all of your responsibilities in all of your roles can take a toll. Mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, coworker, employee, support person, etc. Somewhere down that long list is the role that can get neglected most: Me. We act like everything is fine; when in reality, we’re hanging on by a thread. We need to find others that can relate, or at least other stories that we can relate to, and luckily we have access at our fingertips.  

Thanks, but No Thanks

With any kind of medical situation, be it pregnancy, illness, or wellness one is often subjected to lots of, let’s call it, “feedback.” It may be unsolicited medical advice or it may be advice or feedback from professionals. Oftentimes we can brush it off; other times it can stick with us. Sometimes it can really make you think, wait, what?

A few months ago I had a pregnancy complication and I had to be seen by a doctor in an emergency situation in a different state. This encounter made me appreciate my doctor/care team even more. This doctor went with the extreme worst-case scenario for my situation; if I didn’t have the bit of knowledge that I do have, this would have been a very traumatic experience. She questioned my non-response and was satisfied when I explained my background. Then she said something that has really stuck with me, “Don’t read the mommy blogs.” Ha, if only she knew. I’ve been mulling over that seemingly simple statement for months. In hindsight, I really wanted to say, “Do you know how helpful they are / can be?”

I was struck by this downplaying of online supports/resources again when I was recently listening to an online lecture presented by a mental health professional. She started to bemoan the idea of online “friends.” She went on and on about how those online groups aren’t real friends and expounded on the negative effects of online support. All I could think about was how in the last two years people have been more isolated and alone, and for some, having an online outlet was their only connection. How could this professional deny the benefit of online support after the clear mental health impact of Covid restrictions? 

On the Other Hand

Okay, okay, I can see the perspective of these two professionals. Yes, that physician was correct, in a sense. One shouldn’t look to unvetted online resources for what to do in critical medical situations, but what the “mommy blogs” do provide is a way to feel less alone in a scary, possibly overwhelming situation. The desire to hear the stories of other women like you, and unlike you, allow you to feel more connected and less alone in a scary situation.

As for the mental health professional, sure some online “friends” are not real friends, but I hope she revises her perspective and looks at the support and connect that online groups or blogs can provide. They can help reduce that anxiety that has been building or provide a direction or perspective you may not have considered before.

Both Sides

In the end, my issue was resolved, but I certainly turned to the mommy blog and the online group of moms for reassurance and a kind word, and, honestly, that made me feel much more confident and much less alone than the words I heard in that hospital room. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or scared or in need of a break, read the mommy blog; you’ll find a bunch of other moms going through similar things and it may just give you that moment of relief you’ve been needing.

Melanie grew up in the New Orleans area. She has lived in Baton Rouge since starting her bachelors degree at LSU. Melanie has a BA in Mass Communication and a master’s degree in Social Work both from LSU. In her professional life Melanie focuses on women’s mental health. She also has a passion for group therapy. Melanie and her husband Adam have been married for nine years. They have a one year old son. In her personal life Melanie can be found trying out a new hobby, trying to “get organized” and avoiding the laundry. She loves sitcoms, traveling, iced coffee and carbs.

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