Role models are strange things. I’ve written about them in other contexts, like looking at Aloy or Lara Croft as gaming-based role models for Harley as she grows up. But it’s not just impressionable young people who need role models, although of course, they do. Adults continue to need others that they can admire in some ways, and it’s a strange thing to put myself in that category. It makes me a bit self-conscious, and a bit awkward, but I also feel proud enough about it that I have to share.
Way back when, I promised that I wouldn’t apologize for being a working mom. My thought was that it is who I am, and I was going to bring Harley along with me to meetings or whatever needed doing, and carry on living my life as a working woman. While I have done that with great success, it hasn’t always been easy. I was particularly worried about the #AcerForGaming event – I was going to be working all evening, helping to get other ladies playing on consoles and PCs. How could I do that if Harley was difficult or tired or whatever else. I was really torn about it, but decided I had to take her – I couldn’t present myself as a working mom gamer without my kid – and I’m SO glad that I brought her.
Here is a FB Live video I did where I talked about it:
And here is the YouTube version:
I keep thinking about that Italian parliamentarian who brought her baby with her to parliamentary sessions. She was one of my biggest sources of inspiration in this regard. Yes, I’ve known many amazing working women, who somehow seem to balance it all, but mostly they do so while keeping kids out of their working life. Instead, I’m including Harley, bringing her along for events, and I think that’s a big deal.
At the event last Wednesday, there were a few cool moments. In one, a young high school girl saw me and freaked out over my Converse boots. She loved the knee-high boots and proceeded to say she loved my whole outfit. When I took her with me to the Xbox Ones to play Injustice 2, she was shocked that when I turned around, I had Harley strapped to my back. Like, yeah – I can be fashionable (who knew?), alternative, a gamer and a mom all at once. I just imagine her growing up one day and being told she can’t keep gaming once she’s a mom, or being told she can’t do anything as a mom and she might just remember that event she went to where the cool woman (okay, I’m probably exaggerating how she saw me) was able to show off a fun game while still being close to her baby.
Even more than the teenagers, though, were the moms. There were many moms there. Some had left their kids at home to attend the event, others were attending with their young ones and some were the drivers for their older girl gamer kids. So many of them came up to me. They adored Harley (obviously, she’s far too adorable not to love) but also loved that I had brought her. They loved seeing that I was able to do it all, not in a weird, overachieving supermom way, but in an understated, strap my baby to my back and carry on with life kinda way. They said it inspired them to go out with their babies more, to play games as adult women, to embrace the myriad aspects of themselves that make up who they really are. It was so lovely to talk to those moms and realize that simply by bringing Harley with to the event, I was maybe helping other moms realize just how much we can do as working women.
Also, it’s worth pointing out that I would never have survived that night without having Dean around to help, or without my Ubuntu Baba. Honestly, how did I ever live without a baby carrier, or a husband?
It’s so odd to think that I was a role model. Not just a role model for young girls, which I suppose I’ve sorta made peace with after working as a teacher, going on TV and radio for gaming gigs and even making YouTube videos for work that might prove to young girls that women can also be cool gamers. No no, this wasn’t just being a role model for young girls (which yes, is important), this was being a role model for other moms. The next time those moms wonder if they can go to an event, they might just remember me. They might just bring their little ones along instead of being afraid to leave the house. For one of those moms, I might just be like that Italian parliamentarian, proving that it can be done.
Who would have thought?