Jen confessed she had been anxious to meet me. And that her family had been anxious about her meeting me too.
In truth, I was a little anxious also. And not just because I’m almost always anxious about everything (some people think it’s charming, I swear), but also because I’ve never met anyone from the blogosphere in real life before.
She had suggested a place on the water in the southern part of our state for us to meet for coffee or tea or coconut water, which was eventually what I chose because I’d been drinking green tea all day and was extra jittery. It was a great choice and not just because it was super convenient for me to hop over to after having my annual physical, but also because it was beautiful, sunny, and breezy.
I got there first and scarfed down a pesto, turkey wrap. I had purposely starved myself all day because of the annual exam, and not wanting to weigh even a half pound extra. Because I’m crazy like that. (Note to self: Work a little harder on that self acceptance shit and eat a sandwich).
When Jen arrived, we did the nervous peeking at each other, and then embraced warmly like long lost friends. I prayed to the heavens and muses that I did not have pesto in my teeth because I had planned on doing a lot of smiling.
And pesto or no, a lot of smiling I did.
I think Jen, from the amazing blog Chopping Potatoes, was immediately put at east to see I was, in fact, merely a plump 41 year old mommy blogger, and not the 47 year old, male ax murderer her family and anxiety had maybe suggested I was.
But just in case there was even a shred of doubt left in her adorable, curly head, I pointed out that male serial killers don’t usually spend quit as much time as I do writing about breastfeeding.
Or maybe they do. I don’t know.
Either way, we had a good laugh.
Then we set about trying to remember when exactly we “met” each other online. She started her blog in January of 2012 and I started mine only seven months later in July of 2012.
One of the greatest things I’ve found in blogging is a sense of community as moms, that even as quirky moms with “issues” we are not alone. Jen’s blog does this in a way that is graceful, articulate, warm, and well researched (wink-wink, Jen!) as she writes about perinatal anxiety and depression, maternal mental health in general, and all the other nuts and bolts of mommy blogdom.
We shared about our families and I even showed her photos of my children, which for privacy reasons I never share on my blog. It was a leap of faith that just felt right.
Jen and I discovered that we have led oddly parallel lives for decades, since we were small. We actually grew up within minutes and miles of one another, then lived in the same neighborhood for a time as adults– how awesome is that?! We went to the same college, and may have even passed one another in the dining hall at one point or another.
We talked about this era we are living in of “highlight reels” on social media, and how it can make us feel so envious and strange and pressured. When we talked about children and behavior (and our reactions as moms to our children’s behavior), I felt kinship, but also relief that I am not the only mom out there who has primal, monkey children in the car or Target.
We were able to share in our sense of “Is life really this hard?” and talk about what it is like to live with anxiety while striving to do our Type A best as moms.
We talked about our blogs, of course, and shared the stories behind birthing them, how and when and why we post, and where we find inspiration. It tried, albeit ineptly, to explain why I am an in-the-closet blogger to my family and most of my friends. And she shared about her writer’s group.
We were also able to relate deeply to one another on the subject of maternal depression and anxiety, which is a special thing over which to bond with someone. Not everyone understands the shame, guilt, and despair that goes along with maternal depression. But when you meet someone who has been there, and gets it, it just feels like arms are opened and the universe winks and says, “It’s okay. I got you.”
Plus, it’s not every day you can engage in a conversation with someone about intrusive thoughts and turn it into a bantering competition about who has the weirder thoughts that plague them. And laugh about it.
The universe does indeed work in funky ways. Which is awesome. I felt perfectly at home next to Jen, and was my regular, neurotic self, which was a relief. And that is how I know a person is a true friend– when I am totally at ease saying whatever thing comes out of my lips.
Jen brought me a lollipop from a Warrior Mom conference she’d been to earlier this summer. She had invited me to go, and as much as I would have loved to, I had to work. But she brought me back a little treat and saved it for me for weeks until we were finally able to meet up.
Someone gave me a picture frame once that said, “A friend is a gift you give yourself.” That’s exactly how I felt after meeting up with Jen.
Jen, thank you for all you are doing to normalize and empathize with women who struggle with stuff. You are amazing and I’m so honored to be your neighbor and your friend. Until we meet again. . .