Friday, 10 January 2014

T'internet, Motherhood and Me..... or Did the Greeks Eat Pies?

 "Did the Greeks eat pies?" I typed into Google just before Christmas.  TCM and I were watching Atlantis.  Paul Addy as Hercules is hilarious and he loves eating pies.  "Did the Greeks really eat pies?" I wondered to myself.  I picked up my trusty IPad and asked the oracle that Google has become this very important question.

It occurred to me whilst typing this question that once upon a yesteryear (or "in olden
times" as Katie kindly calls my youth) I would have had to visit my local library to find out the answer to that question.  Finding the answer would have involved using the Dewey Decimal System and pouring over books until I found the page with the answer I was seeking.  I remember so well, because I'm so old of course, when Windows first took over from our old Dos based computers (I even learned to touch type on a proper typewriter, with a ribbon and lots of typos and everything!).  I held that first mouse in my hand and I was hooked.  I love the possibilities that the internet offers.  Little did I know that the internet or "t'internet" as my lovely Father-in-Law calls it would change the course of my life.


It was around 15 years ago that I watched a programme about infertility on Channel 4. Within that programme a website was mentioned. Fertilethoughts.

Fertilethoughts is a web-based support forum for everything related to pregnancy and birth, plus infertility and miscarriage.  I immediately fired up my old desktop computer and looked for the webpage.  Upon arrival I discovered a chatroom and tentatively entered.  Inside I met someone who is now one of my closest friends.  It's a long story but she actually only lived a few miles away from me at the time (although now she lives miles and miles away).  A group of us, who met in the chatroom that evening, met for several lunches and offered much support for each other. I speak to my friend pretty much every day and her friendship has been a mainstay of my life through the depths and the highs that has been our journey to parenthood.


Fertilethoughts, and the wonderful ladies who pulled up a chair and made it their home alongside me, gave me so much support at a time of great sadness in my life as I experienced miscarriage after miscarriage.  We shared our joys and our grief and we bonded over infertility.  I am still friends with many of the ladies I met there via Facebook.  We supported each other through our efforts to conceive and shared medical information and new treatments and probably drove all our medical professionals crazy with our demands for new medications and tests. There are many babies in this world because of the support and the information we shared with each other I can tell you.


As my journey towards biological parenthood reached its conclusion I was reunited, on Friends Reunited, with an old school friend who it transpired was an adoptive parent.  TCM and I had started on our path towards adoption at this point.  Do you ever think all this is fated?  I certainly do!  My friend introduced me to the Adoption and Fostering forum on Babyworld and there I met the most wonderful group of adopters who supported me throughout our adoption journey.  We have since evolved beyond the board and started up our own private group and have a massive meet up every year with all our array of children.  The A Team speak to each other via Facebook on a daily basis and share a bond that has now gone beyond just being adoptive parents.  If it wasn't for this group of women I might not have had the strength to get through our first adoption process.  They gave me the vision of where we were heading and the confidence to get there.  I met their adopted children and was able to hold those meetings firmly in my mind as we shared our lives with our Social Worker.  They held my hand as we experienced delays and the uncertainty of whether we would be approved.  They still hold my hand as we discuss issues we are facing and parenting methods we are using. 

All of this because of the Internet.  An invention by Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee.  Did he know where his invention would take humankind I wonder?

As an adoptive parent we often discuss the dark side of the Internet.  The worries and risks of the tracing of birth parents with the click of a mouse for an unprepared teenager. How we prepare our children to know that we will support them through these emotions and endeavours as they grow up and need to know more about their history.  As well as being a gift from the Gods, Facebook is also potentially a gift from Beelzebub himself, especially for our often emotionally underdeveloped adopted children. There are also the worries about the easy accessibility to pornography and other images such as skinny celebrities and websites where eating disorders can be supported and even encouraged.  Social media can be the most amazing invention but can also be used to bully and vilify and tear lives apart.  Young minds are entering a world that seems to have no rules at ages where they are not emotionally equipped to deal with all that it has to offer.  My 9 year old nephew is currently bemoaning me since I put parental controls on his I-Pad that prevent him downloading games that are too old for him to play.  I have done the same for Katie rendering her currently unable to even access the Internet on her tablet.  At aged 6 I don't think there is anything she would Google just yet anyway.

I grew up in a world where we had 3 television channels and learning to read was just with books.  I have a long-standing passion for books as a result.  I have been able to support Katie's learning with those old fashioned book things but also with apps and TV programmes and games.  Information is coming at her young brain at a pace that my
older brain struggles to keep up with.  What impact will this have on our children's brains throughout their lives is a question I often ponder?  How will all this information impact on their imagination?  I am a big believer that children need to learn to be bored but nowadays there is no space or time to be bored in.  There is something to do at every second of the day.

When I decided to write this blog, it was primarily with a view to updating all my friends and family with the progress of our introductions with Katie.  Little did I know that nearly four years on I would still be writing this blog or how important to my life it would become.  This blog has accompanied me as I became a parent for the first time and has documented every step of our lives ever since.  Because of this blog I am now using Twitter and have met the most amazing and wonderful people who are also adopters and bloggers.  I have been to conferences and days out with other bloggers; some very kind people have even nominated me for a blogging award (I wasn't shortlisted but it was still so amazing to be nominated); I have been asked to review toys and other items and have written sponsored blog posts (of which this is one for Virgin Media).  I never thought I could consider myself a writer, yet here I am.  All because of the Internet.

As a mother generally I use the Internet on a daily basis.  When Katie had chicken pox a few years ago and Pip had croup recently I was able to look up their symptoms on the NHS Direct health checker for children. We use the BBC iplayer to watch TV  
programmes on the laptop if we're having a difficult dinner-time because Katie finds it very hard to sit still for any length of time.  When the school holidays are looming I look up things to do in our local area.  I can answer pretty much any question Katie wants to ask using the Internet.  I completed the application for Katie to start school using an on-line application form.  I have a very clever smartphone that I've linked all my email accounts and social media to so I can be in touch with everyone at any given moment of the day (unless I'm out of signal range of course). My phone also acts as my SatNav as I ferry the children about to various activities and fun things.  I found my two beautiful Maine Coon cats via the Internet.  I do the majority of my household, clothes and toys shopping on the Internet since becoming a mum and hate the idea of dragging my children around the shops with me.  I use Geektown to find out when all my favourite TV programmes are on (I don't get out much anymore now we're parents of course!).

Of course this does just beg the question "Are we better off for all of this access 24 hours a day?"  My brain rarely switches off and there is always an email to reply to or someone who is having a crisis on Facebook.  My world has become larger but I'm not always sure it's a good thing because it is difficult to keep up with a wide circle of "friends" on the Internet whilst being Mary Poppins at home.  I feel distracted a lot of the day and I'm not sure that's always good for me as a mum.  Do I give my children quality time if a text or comment on Facebook is pinging via my phone and interrupting our game?  I have trained myself not to run to my phone every time it pings and have utilised ringtones so I know who is phoning but I do use a fair amount of my day doing Internet-related things and I think I have one ear out for that pinging all day long.

All in all I will remain a WWW fan.  The Internet has had an amazing impact on my life.  Like my Gran (and Oscar Wilde) used to say "Everything in moderation".  I think the Internet is a phenomenal invention and I embrace it with my arms wide open but I aim to raise my children to be aware that there is also a life out there in Real Time where you interact with people face to face and use your verbal communication skills and have to be the person you really are.  The Internet should not replace human interaction but it can bring amazing people into your life as I can testify.  I hope I can equip my children to walk with a foot in both worlds and embrace all life has to offer and utilise the Internet for all the good things it can offer.

Oh...... in case you're wondering about those Greeks......the answer is here!

(Note to readers: this post contains a sponsored link)

6 comments:

  1. Great post and I thank the (elders of the) internet on a regular basis for bringing you into my life! x

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    1. Bless you my lovely! I do too. What a different world it might have been if it hadn't been for that fateful night! xxxx

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  2. All my concerns and worries about using and accessing the great www laid out so well Gem, as always

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    1. Thank you very much. I really enjoyed reminiscing for this post I must say.xx

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  3. Enjoyed reading this. I too have found the internet a great support when facing fertility issues and the adoption process and beyond!! Thank you!!

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    1. Having that shared bond really helps to normalise feelings. I feel for people who went through all these issues pre-Internet because I'm sure they must have felt incredibly isolated. I'm so grateful for all the companions on my journey. xx

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