It all started when I found out I was pregnant with the little kid. Somehow I ventured onto my Babycenter Birth Club and my whole world changed.
I have never been a "girl's girl" and Babycenter reminded me of why. The hormones, the whining, the cattiness, the "look at me" drama (all eyes on ME at all times, thanks), the mushy/cheesy/squealing crap over seriously dumb shit. I stuck around for an eye rolling good time and the occasional nugget of wisdom regarding my pregnancy (more nuggets of crap than wisdom, trust me).
But then I noticed that there were some women on there that were also rolling their eyes, who were also outspoken, articulate, and pretty damn funny. We ended up coming together over some drama and starting our own conversation thread. We started talking all day every day and soon decided that we enjoyed cursing, sex toys and drug talk too much to be involved in a wholesome environment like Babycenter, so 15 of us broke apart and started our own group.
And as they say, the rest is history. I think that was April of last year and I can honestly say that these internet friends (I don't even consider them that anymore, these are "Real Life" friends) have changed my life. We exchanged close to 70,000 emails in our first year...among 15 of us. Do the math on that. We were together ALL day EVERY day.
We comforted each other through pregnancy woes and scares and became a real support network when one of our own lost their August baby. We distracted each other from Post Partum Depression and from crying, colicky, screeching infants. We inspired each other in "Clean Sweep" challenges, mocked Flylady together (while aspiring to her organized greatness), and motivated each other to diet. We were each other's lactation consultants, baby gear experts, research panels, fashion stylists and therapists. We have driven each other to laugh until peeing our pants, to cry for each other in sadness and happiness, and to share our most embarrassing moments and biggest fears.
We sent a fridge full of groceries to one member who got in a car accident and a spa basket to another. We sent Wal-mart (yes, we know Walmart is evil) giftcards to two members so they could have amazing Christmases. We remember our lost little one with lit candles, donations to March of Dimes and other memorials and are celebrating his soon-to-arrive little brother with shower plans, advice and giddy excitement. When the Big Kid was being sent to the children's hospital because of a suspected life threatening illness, I found a package on my door with a quilt that had a square for each one of us and a note explaining that it was to bring us comfort while we needed it until it was to be passed on to the next member. I have never felt so lucky (while feeling so unlucky) or so loved. The quilt is in it's 3rd Chaw home right now.(Turns out the Big Kid had just decided to quit pooping.)
We're also ambitious and a little crazy. We've started many projects: finding and planning a commune in Saskatchewa, an alphabet book, a website (we even have a domain), plans to get on Oprah/Ellen/Maury (Maury would have us), a Chaw Greatest Hits CD and a Chawling Lullaby CD, a recipe book, Chaw friendship bracelets, Chawling rock tribute, I can't even list the rest. We even successfully had a small cameo on the show "Shark", our celebrity chaw got the prop guy to put the name "Chawbacon" on some deli bags. So, we're famous too.
We have our own lingo with words like Chawlicious, Yeechaw, Shockachaw, HuDge, Chawbacon Jrs. (big kids), Chawlings (little kids) and there's much, much more but if I told you I'd have to kill you. We also have a mascot, Sidney, who is pictured above. (Okay, so maybe we're a little dorky. Just a little)
We've had individual meet-ups all over the country. A bunch of us decided to meet in San Antonio on the spur of the moment. I couldn't afford it and it was one of the craziest things I've ever done, but also one of my fondest memories. Staying up all night in our suite giggling, letting our kids take over the hotel lobby, cruising around San Antonio on a water taxi. Three other girls got together in Vegas and partied for a weekend. One of the girls is vacationing here for 3 weeks starting Wednesday and I'm so excited!
Don't get me wrong, we are women. We can be bitches. Because we are so personally invested, we occasionally read things wrong and get crappy, or snap at each other. Feelings have been hurt. Debates have gotten heated. But it always works out. We always come back to loving each other.
This is getting long and you're probably wondering why you care. You care because these women helped me find my online voice (and addiction), have reminded me that relationships with women are vital, and have helped me come to the realization that you can be an amazing woman and still feel like a mess. You also care because you are a captive audience and if you want to know about me, this is a big part of it.
The reason this comes up now is because yesterday the Chaws made my day so sunshiney it was blinding. I have been thinking seriously about getting into children's photography but have been unsure of myself due to lack of official experience and no extra money for props or marketing materials. Yesterday I received a package with a feather boa, a tupperware container, and an adorable little pouch with a cupcake on it. Inside the pouch was a beautiful handmade card that said:
We want to wish you the absolute best. We are behind you 100% and totally
believe in your talent, ability and motivation. Break a leg!
We love you,
The Chaws xoxo
In order to demonstrate our support, please accept our gifts. You MUST eat
the cupcake-it contains "Chaw love".
Looking at the cupcake, I was a little skeptical because it hadn't traveled well. However, with the Chaws, there is an excellent chance that it was a "special" cupcake (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) and no way was I passing up that opportunity. When I broke it open, a little plastic wrapped capsule fell out and inside the capsule was $200.
(There was also a "Jesus is King" button that the cupcake wallet lady seemed to think we needed, which was appropriate because we are often encouraging each other to "Find Jesus" when things get bad. We range from the absolute devout to the self proclaimed anti-Christ, so this inside joke means different things to each of us but amuses all of us. I think it does anyway, if it bothers anyone she hasn't spoken up and that never happens)
I think this is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me and I will probably never receive a more thought out or prettily presented package. These women have given me more than money to buy some props, they have given me the confidence and support to reach for a dream. The props are like the feather in Dumbo's hat for me. I could probably do this without them, but with them I will go into this feeling like I'm flying instead of jumping.
So although it isn't funny (and you come here for funny, I know), these women deserve a most public thank you. Since I'm in Florida and have no mountain tops to shout from, this will be my mountain top. THANK YOU CHAWBACONS. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING. THANKS FOR YOUR FRIENDSHIP, SUPPORT AND LOVE. THANKS FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT. THANKS FOR THE "SPECIAL" CUPCAKE. THANKS FOR BEING YOU.
(and to everyone else, we'll get right back to our regularly scheduled programming. I promise I'm not turning all sweet and mushy on you all)