When my son was just over a year old, I took him to the Renaissance Faire. Busted out the cosplay, decked out his stroller, the whole nine yards. It was one of the happiest days I’ve spent as a mom. It was also the first time since he was born that I really felt like myself. It took me a little while to figure out why.
It's really hard to be a mom AND a geek. (It's hard to be a mom and anything else, this is just my particular struggle.) Motherhood can wreck anyone sideways, like getting hit by a freight train loaded down with Mack trucks. You’re handicapped with sleep-deprivation and “Mommy Brain.” You’re trying to keep up with day-to-day life. Maybe you have other kids, or a job, or both. And top of that you have to figure out how to meet the needs of another human for whom you are completely responsible and who has but one means by which to communicate a range of needs. With all that on your plate, as the cliche goes, there is barely time to shower, let alone keep up with a weekly comic, TV show, podcast, etc. You’re not going to put off making dinner until you beat a frustrating level of a video game like you would have when there was just you to worry about. It’s just not an option anymore.
And then there is the isolation of motherhood. A lot of moms have trouble separating from their kids, especially when they’re very young, and of those that don’t, there are others who don’t have the means to get away. When you’re a mom of kids who are younger than school-aged, if you’re not at work and they’re not in some form of day care, chances are they’re with you most of the time. Isolation in this case isn’t synonymous with being alone, it’s actually quite the opposite. It’s being isolated from the things and people that you once chose to spend time you no longer have with.
Since most of your time is spend with your kids, you’re doing what they want to do, which is almost never the same thing as what you want to do. Of course you want to spend time with your kids. Every parent does. But you also want to be your own person and, particularly when you are a geek, the things you do to be your own person are not usually things you can do with small demanding children around at all times. So you find yourself isolated from a lot of the things that used to make you you. It’s you and your little one off by yourselves, isolated from the rest of the adult world, where little kids seldom belong.
For many moms, a lot of social time is spent with other moms, frequently stranger-moms with whom you are thrown together at meetups, playdates, storytimes, etc. They’re probably perfectly nice moms and they may even be fellow geek moms, but it’s rare that you ever find out if that’s true. All you know that you have in common is that you both have kids. There is a lot of potential for hostility and judgement in the parenting world, based on differences in your parenting choices, so meeting new moms usually means having your guard up and sticking to “safe” topics, like how cute each other’s kids are and sharing common experiences. If you are lucky enough to sense a kindred spirit in a fellow geek mom, it’s likely they are as out of the geek-loop as you are (although, it can be nice to have that in common with someone).
Motherhood is, by nature, a self-sacrificing act. I don’t care who you are or what you do, there is always some degree of putting yourself aside, putting your children first. That’s what it means to be Mom. Unfortunately, it frequently means sidelining your inner geek. Rest assured, she’s still in there somewhere and she’d probably go overboard the second she was let loose, as I did when I took my son to the Renaissance Faire. It’s important to take care of your kids, but it’s also important to take care of yourself. It’s important for your kids to see you as a whole person, as Mom, but also as yourself. So do the moms in your life a favor, even if the mom is you, and give her the chance to indulge that inner geek. Chances are everyone will have a lot of fun thanks to her.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, geeky or otherwise, from all of us here at Geekade!