Since having children my social life has dwindled to the odd evening out at the cinema or local Italian and a series of chats at the school gates, for which I am pathetically grateful. Making and keeping friends when so much of my time is taken up with running the lives of my four small dependents often proves a challenge too far. It's not that I don't care, it's just that the idea of picking up the phone for a chat with a real, live person at the end of a day of nappy changes, force feeding puree, transforming Transformers, wiping bottoms and endlessly tidying up toys has all the appeal of poking my eye out with a sharp stick.
Equally, while I often wistfully reminisce about the good old days when evenings were wasted in bars, clubs and expensively chic restaurants (oh, who am I kidding pubs and gourmet burger bars were about my limit), in reality an evening slumped on the sofa watching the bitchily fantastic Four Weddings on Living TV and downing half a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc is my idea of heaven. Which is probably why I'm far from the most popular girl in town. How can I expect to have a whole host of mates, when I can't actually bothered to speak to them or see them from one month to the next thanks to child induced exhaustion?
Fortunately I have found the solution that prevents me from entirely retiring from society. For while I may not have that many flesh and blood friends, online I am the hostess with the mostest and my virtual buddies are probably the reason I have refrained succumbing too frequently to weepy lonliness during the enforced purdah of having babies and the solitary career of a freelance writer.
Indeed the internet has even helped me to remain close to my real world friends, because now they can keep up with my antics via Twitter or my blog and so when we do finally meet it really is as if we'd hardly been apart. A good friend of mine, who you may know as Nappy Valley Girl has recently moved to the US, and before she left we joked that we'd probably be in closer contact now than we ever had been when she lived just across the same city from me.
I know many complain that social network sites like Facebook and Twitter are destroying real friendships and taking their toll on our psychological wellbeing, but to be honest the way my life is right now I couldn't do without the contact they do provide. When life is getting me down a miserable update on my Facebook status will see my friends rally round to post cheering comments, when I want to boast about my success a Tweet means everyone can share in my joy and when I am worried about the babes a post on Mumsnet lets me know I'm not alone.
Perhaps this virtual community is no substitute for those coffee mornings of old that must have sustained mums back in the day when everyone of us was at home, but in today's modern age where stay at home mums are an endangered breed and so many of us work home alone, I for one can't cope without my internet buddies. In fact my worst nightmare is losing broadband connection, though I am not too sure what that says about me. Probably that I ought to get out more.