When I was 16 years old, I barely spoke to my mother. Despite her love and earnest efforts, I had no time and even less patience for her. So I was very prepared to have my beautiful, opinionated daughter cut me out as she grew up.
Then we found cosplay.
If you read the blog, you know that my daughter is a gamer and an artist. Talented- with a sometimes maddening attention to detail.
She’s got gaming and cosplay friends on three continents and a very popular Tumblr.
I’m none of that. I’m a middle-aged, scholarly nerd.
But I was a Girl Scout, and I can sew- and I had the good timing and good fortune to see how important a new hobby was to my daughter, and then find a way to participate in it.
Now I’m a cosplay assistant, sherpa and bankroll. We go to thrift shops, hardware stores and conventions together. We learn to use new tools and take on scary sewing projects- like pleats, together. Sure, she still ditches me at conferences, but I stay quietly in the background, on call, and write about the experience.
And when she shows my blog to other cosplayers (fairies, butlers and penguins), amazingly, they tell her that her Mom is ok.
At our last convention, Kawa Kon 2015, she was apparently chatting with a Nagisa cosplayer who liked cosplaymom.com.
“Mom,” she told me later, “Penguins think you’re cool.”
I have to say that this is one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. For all that it means.
That I get to participate.
That my daughter lets me in.
I really don’t want this post to seem a brag- I don’t mean it to be. I am hoping more for a mediation on seizing the moment, selfishly, to have time with my daughter before she grows up.
More than once, I’ve had a young cosplayer wistfully say to me something like “I wish MY Mom would dress up and come to conventions with me….”
and I sympathize. Both with the young cosplayers- and with their parents.
It’s expensive, it’s time consuming and it can be hard to play in a world that is so far out of the experience of us older folks. I spend money on materials and registrations instead of books for myself, and I plan our vacations around cosplay events.
All so I can spend a great deal of time confused at those conventions.
So I get it. I totally understand why there are less parents at these things.
It doesn’t help that nerddom, cosplay and science fiction conventions have such a collectively held (Big Bang Theory– type) stereotype of low social skills and, well, weirdness.
But really, buying equipment, driving to events, wearing “team” apparel and cheering hard for cosplay daughter and cosplay best friend isn’t really any different than being a soccer Mom or Dad. It’s just less of the social norm.
I don’t really understand soccer either. But if that was her joy and what gave her confidence, I’d learn.
No, I’m really not cool- but I show up.
And to gloss Woody Allen, I think some serious amount of parenting, and life, is about showing up.