This time last week my husband and I were feeling the benefits of a few craft beers at the annual Irish blog awards in the Westgrove Hotel, Co. Kildare. We were extremely lucky that my husband’s family generously treated us to tickets for the awards, a night at the Killashee House Hotel, and.. AND!!! my amazing sister in-law and her husband offered to mind the kids! All our stars must have been aligned (or something like that), because for us, this was the equivalent of winning the euro millions as we really don’t get out enough.
And they weren’t at all deterred when they realised they had to mind our new poopy puppy as well as the twins. They had it all figured out and arrived armed with gifts of sweeties, games and new clothes for kids. So when we left, the kids were both beaming and their favourite aunt was rightly promoted to superstar status. (Yes, we love you. Do come back and babysit again!) It was such a rare treat; going off together, guilt-free, to a nice hotel and a lie-in, knowing that the kids would have a ball and that they weren’t the least bit worried about us leaving.
Arriving at the awards to meet the other parenting bloggers was incredibly exciting. As many of us hadn’t met before and we’d only seen each other’s profile pictures on Facebook, I figured we’d be guessing who was who and perhaps approach the wrong people, but within a second I recognised a handful of women – all members of the Irish parenting bloggers group. They were all being lined up for a photo by the official photographer, so I gate-crashed and said ‘I’m Olivia… from.. Put the kettle On?’ and thank goodness they knew who I was. I wasn’t expecting them to recognise me and feared they’d say they’d never heard of me. And that was that, for the rest of the evening we were like a giggling gaggle of school girls. It was so nice to see a group of mummies having the chance to let their hair down. At one point the song ‘girls just wanna have fun’ by Cindi Lauper was played, and by this stage the girls were really going for it on the dance floor. The words of the song rang true for me – even a big bunch of mummies still want and know how to have fun.
The awards were presented by an outrageous drag queen from Belfast who kept us laughing with her (his?) crazy humour and a splattering of insults directed specifically at bloggers. I believe he hosted the awards last year and that was a great success as well, so I think he (she??) is the best man (woman?) for the job and I hope they will host the awards next year too.
We all sat together at two tables of ten, and unfortunately a few who arrived later had to sit at a third table, and I regret not having the chance to say hello to them properly. When the award was announced for best Irish Parenting Blog, we were all on tenterhooks – the winner was Mama.ie! I loved the look on Lisa’s face when she won as she wasn’t expecting it at all, even though she’s been writing about parenting for a long time and her blog is incredible. Lisa set up the Irish parenting bloggers group over two years ago and paved the way to include a new parenting category at the awards, as last year this category didn’t exist. Other winners within our group were Beating Myself Into a Dress for best blog post, and Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers won best health and well-being blog. So little me didn’t win, but I was still counting my blessings for making it to the finalist list (by the skin of my teeth). It was brilliant to be there with the Irish Parenting bloggers group, to meet new faces and share in the celebrations (we went mad).
Since last week, our get-together has generated some very interesting conversations about online relationships. It did feel strange to meet a group of women whom I’d only chatted to via our blogs and group forum. I expected them to behave differently from their blog personas, but they were so similar to the personalities I’ve come to know over the past few months, so now I realise persona is the wrong word. Meeting them in person has just joined the dots and given me a more complete picture. Now that we’ve all met in person, their blogs seem to make more sense and I think I have a better sense of the very real person behind the blog. Some of the others have described it as the final pieces of the jigsaw or meeting a penfriend. We all wondered if meeting people online was considered normal and acceptable, and whether online friendships are genuine and I think they are, as meeting these ladies in person has confirmed that for me. 🙂
Photo credits: Laura Kenny @ Dairy free Kids, Sinead Fox @ Bumbles of Rice, Sadhbh @ Where wishes come from and Lisa @ Mama.ie