Ten years ago, not long into my pregnancy with my first daughter, I was on the computer checking out a forum for first time moms on a parenting website. I had always heard to be careful with online forums – they could be filled with crazy people who tried to find out your personal information and stalk you. Yet, I was in a new town, new to pregnancy, and was hoping to just “listen in” on this group and maybe learn from their experience, get reviews on purchases for the baby, etc.
The group I joined turned out to be much more than that, and it didn’t take long to get sucked in and do more than just “listen”. It was the “thing” on this site to give a name to your group, so we quickly came up with the name July Sparklers, as we were all due in July and when you think of July, it’s sparklers and fireworks! It seemed as if this group – I can’t remember how many we originally started with – instantly bonded. Of course it was easy to bond over being at the same point in our lives in terms of the first pregnancy for us all, but it wasn’t just that. We discussed just about everything…you name it, it’s been thrown out there.
As I said, this started over a decade ago, and most of us are still together. We left the original site years ago, actually went through several more sites to host our group, but we’re still strong. We live all over the country – and a couple in Canada – and occasionally have reunions, or get-togethers with other Sparklers that live nearby. I have personally met several Sparklers, but even those I have never seen face-to-face, are near and dear to my heart.
This group has been through just about everything in ten years, as you can imagine; all the issues that go with being a first time parent, the laughter, the tears, the issues that go with being a parent of two (or three, or four…or five for one of our moms!), financial troubles, moving families across country, sick kids, fertility problems, divorce, in-laws, and sadly, death of our own.
In 2006, we lost one of our members to cancer. A beautiful, young mom of two small girls. It was devastating, and something many of us had never been through. However, the magic of this group became apparent – we are always, always there for each other, and no matter what, we come out stronger. Unfortunately, we are having to go through it again, as one of our members is battling stage 4 breast cancer. It has reached her liver and lungs. We are devastated once again, yet the way we are there for each other, is, as I said, magical. To be able to grieve with a group of your best friends, to share memories, to feel like you are heard and understood, and to always end a conversation with laughter through tears, is…purely magical.
I try very hard to be thankful for what I have in my life every single day, not just when Thanksgiving comes around. I’m most thankful for my husband, my children, my extended family, our health…and my Sparklers. As we all begin the manic process of either travelling to see family for this holiday, or welcoming them into our home, remember to let the small things go and JUST. BE. THANKFUL.