“When you have your children with you, you’re a mother and you can’t be a person,” a friend said at our college roommate’s wedding. We were enjoying a glass of wine and eating carne asada tacos—peacefully, I might add. My eyes darted to a small human heading to the cupcake table. He stuck his hand in the frosting before his mom, who was tailing him, could catch up. She pressed her palm against her forehead. I nodded in solidarity with her.
My friend’s words hung in the air between us. I understood the sentiment, but still her comment bothered me. I’m a mom and a person. And sometimes, I mom so hard I can’t find the switch to turn the person part of me back on.
The transition into motherhood made it clear that I needed a community of moms. I realized this really quickly when I gave a deli counter clerk an earful about the contents of my daughter’s diaper. A mom community was especially wonderful when I needed to understand how other moms were handling massive diaper blow-outs or how they managed sleep deprivation.
But last year, after my mom passed away suddenly, I realized I needed to regain the person parts of myself I’d lost over the years—my love of reading, the Matrix films, and video games topped the list. So, as I sat at my parent’s kitchen table before the funeral, I turned to my brother and asked: “Wanna play Dungeons and Dragons (D&D)?”
The next week, I became the Dungeon Master, the role responsible for storytelling and leading the game. D&D is often considered one of the last bastions of nerdom, and I wasn’t ready to out myself as a full-blown nerd. The voices of schoolyard bullies from childhood surfaced in my thoughts: “You’re a loser! A geek!”
I buried the geek when I became a mother and it was time to revive that part of myself. In a Facebook group of moms, I put out the invitation: Would anyone be interested in playing D&D?
My phone dinged repeatedly as comments posted. Nearly 50 moms responded.
“Wow! It’s been years since I played. I wish I had the time right now.”
“D&D is so much fun. I’m in!”
A year later, five of us consistently prioritize playing D&D every other week. The community we’ve created has been healing for me, and for everyone who joined our group to play. We each have knit back together the once disparate parts of ourselves—parent, adult and child—finding joy and connection along the way.