This year has been a whirlwind. A divorce, a cross-country move, my son’s first preschool experience, a brand new job, ANOTHER brand new job. But despite the life upheaval, I can honestly say that all the choices were good and the changes were needed and a step in the right direction.
I thought I’d write a bit about what I’m thankful for this year, given that it’s easy to get caught up in the stress and frustrations of daily life as a single parent, when I should be giving gratitude to a life going well.
My son, Henry
It’s hard for me to write about my kiddo without getting overwhelmingly sappy, because he’s really wonderful. Even on his hardest of days, he’s still easier than a lot of children. I’m so grateful that he’s a solid sleeper which allows me to be the best mom and person possible.
This year has been incredible, because he’s been growing as a little human. He’s not really a “baby” anymore (shut up, he’ll *always* be my baby) and he’s developed an adorable little personality. He’s strong and independent, yet cautious. He’s so adaptable to new people and situations. He’s a spitting image of me when I was his age — precocious, smiley, talkative, inquisitive.
I’m so thankful that I’m his mom. It’s truly the greatest job I’ve ever had, and I love my new “mama” identity.
Moving to Austin was a difficult decision, but I’m grateful that it seems to be the right one. I’ve met some new friends (Austinites are really nice), and I’ve gone on tons of adventures. I’ve rekindled my love for hiking (it has supplanted my ability to be outdoors riding horses) and I’ve checked out countless hikes and State Parks. I’ve eaten great food, and seen so many neat things.
I was worried about moving to Texas due to the Conservative nature of this state, but Austin is a great little haven where I feel surrounded by people who think the way I think. I’ve met lots of moms for potential playdates for Henry. He’s going to a wonderful outdoor preschool and his teachers love him a lot. I’m really truly happy here, and still have so much to explore!
My return to the game industry
This is a huge one for me. Earlier this year, I heard that my contract at Riot was going to expire and I needed to job hunt. I decided to try out working in non-games, and took a position at You Need a Budget. That company was incredible. I love the product, the team is amazing, and it was a fantastic experience. It was the first time I’ve gotten to work from home for a fully-remote company, which was a nice change. It was flexible, which was great for my move.
However, I found out that something was missing in my life. That role was a Community Manager role, and prior to having my son I was a Director of Community. This role was more junior, great for the flexibility but it turns out that it wasn’t what I needed in my life.
I had thought that returning to games wasn’t ever going to happen. After all, the discipline that I’m in (production) is rarely supportive of family life, especially that of a single mom. When I had the opportunity to pursue a Senior Producer role at Zynga, I entertained it but didn’t believe that it would even be feasible. It turned out, the slots studio that I’m at *really* values work/life balance. One of the other producers is also a single mom as well! Many people have children here and no one really stays that late. I’m able to work 9-5, and I can do extra work at night from home after my son goes to bed (if I need to).
I now feel like I’m back on the career ramp that I was on before. I don’t feel like pregnancy and motherhood made me step back in time too far. I get to prioritize my career again and work with games. And despite me questioning what working in slot machine games would be like, it’s been a ton of fun. I love my team, I love the role, and I’m pretty hooked on our games as well. It’s been really great for my mental health to be back in a rigorous and challenging onsite role. I think I’m balancing things quite well, all things considered.