I HAVE a very sordid secret to reveal to you all. I have a sad addiction to the internet (or t'internet as I choose to call it) and spend a disproportionate amount of my evenings surfing the web, chatting on MSN or logging in to a support forum for mums.
I don't really have any other vices (apart from the obvious Chunky Kit Kat/ Galaxy chocolate obsession). I don't drink more than my recommended weekly amount (well, not often really) and I don't smoke for fear my mammy would bat the head clean off my shoulders should I ever so much as be seen with a cigarette on my person.
So t'internet is my sole vice. It all started some three years when the big man whom I am married too presented me with a computer as a Christmas present. (It was presented on the understanding I would now work my not-so-little arse off to become the new Queen Marian of Keyes- needless to say he is still waiting for the first draft!).
For the first month or so I footered about with Microsoft Word and surfed the net on a very occasional basis. But soon, as we made the momentous decision to try to become parents I started researching the rights and wrongs of pregnancy and how best to get one's self up the proverbial duff. (No this does not mean I looked for hints on the actual conception process- just advice on the best things to do when hoping for a healthy pregnancy- There is no dirt on my home pc!)
It was then I came across a website where women who were TTC (trying to conceive- see I know all the lingo and everything) talked together and so I shared my trials and tribulations with them as I got my BFP (Big Fat Positive) and throughout my PG (pregnancy) until I eventually gave birth to my DS (Darling Son). (Yes, I know the language is terribly twee and American, but it makes typing a little easier for lazy minded folk like myself).
Himself used to look on with a mixture of wonder and pity as I regaled stories of these anonymous people who I shared my pregnancy experience with. 'Spacedust' had an irritable uterus which got her into all sorts of trouble. 'Amber19' flashed her knickers in the car park of Asda when her maternity trousers fell down, 'Webgirl' had a rather unfortunate experience during labour after eating a curry to bring on her contractions. (Not for the faint hearted, I can assure you!)
I sobbed like a mad woman the day 'Helcatt' revealed to us that her little girl had been stillborn and I whooped with joy when 'Frogslie' delivered a healthy baby boy after months of genetic testing.
(Of course, I do have a sad internet user name too which I could tell you- but then I would have to kill you!)
As the months passed I found that some of the women who I spoke with thanks to the wonders of broadband technology and I shared a special bond. I had to admit to myself (if not the rest of the world for fear of being branded a total geek) that I had made friends over t'internet.
So, we moved away from typing our anonymous messages and found out everyone's real names and started talking on the telephone. I remember the first time I phoned one of my new friends. I had to drink two Bacardi Breezers first before plucking up the courage to do so. It was all a bit ridiculous given this woman knew all about the triumph of my first post baby poop along with all other kinds of deeply personal and embarrassing information.
Meeting my friends
Last weekend I took my addiction one step further and met up with 10 of these 'friends' in real life. That involved me, the wee man and the big man travelling to deepest, darkest Lancashire. I safely deposited my two 'men' at the inlaws while I travelled on alone to meet up with my online buddies.
My daddy had the wherewithal to ask me was I sure they were real and not just pretending to be frazzled new mums so they could groom me into their cult and I was able to reassure him they were all perfectly normal(ish).
And so we met. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. Here we were, 10 of us, sans babies (our usual icebreakers), all together in a living room in a quaint little village trying to remember who was who and break away from calling each other our sometimes dodgy internet names. (The poor lassie who is known as 'Lois Lane' online got called Lois all weekend though - and no, it's not me!)
We walked, en masse like a modern day suffragette movement, to a local beauty salon where we were pampered and preened and served cool crisp wine and enough 'chips'n'dips' to feed a small army and we chatted about all sorts of nonsense- just as i would with my oldest and dearest school friends.
The only dodgy moment of the whole weekend involved my own embarrassing experience while getting a facial. As the therapist explained the fancy gel she put on my face would turn to a watery consistency within two minutes as it cleared away the dead skin, I was red-faced (literally- I think she took a couple of layers off) when it took a good 10 minutes to reach said watery consistency.
"Do you not exfoliate then?" she asked- obviously already knowing the answer- and when I replied that my skincare routine largely consisted of a quick swipe of a baby wipe and a wee rub of moisturiser she gasped with horror and gave me a lecture on my skin is one step away from a elephant hide.
Thankfully my new 'friends' were there to console me with a top of my wine, a visit to the Chinese and a never ending supply of chocolate.
So, at last, my addiction is out in the open- and you can take it from from me, the internet is not completely full of weirdoes. Some of us are quite nice actually- even if we do talk like twee Americans.
Reading At The Edge - I'm delighted to return to Cavan on Tuesday, next week for At The Edge, run by Kate Ennals. Do come and join it, it's a terrific line up and there's an op...
17 hours ago