My Mom, Honorary Geek Girl: An Ada Lovelace Day Tribute

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

I almost forgot to tell you that Ada Lovelace day has changed dates! According to a Finding Ada blog post about the date change:

The March date was always arbitrary, picked because I was too impatient to wait any longer! The October date has been picked because it’s far enough away that it gives us a chance to get our ducks in a row, but also because (hopefully!) it doesn’t clash with school and university calendars.

I like the idea of being able to reach more geek girls, especially budding ones in school.

This year's Finding Ada website homepage asks: "Do you remember which women have influenced you over the years?"

I am fortunate enough to have spent my career thus far surrounded by feisty, go-getting women. But the one who has influenced me the most was not a computer geek by any stretch. In fact I don't think she was ever fully comfortable with computers.

My mom was, back in the 60s, a Bell Telephone switchboard operator. Just like Lily Tomlin's Ernestine, yep. (see video below ;) She was sassy, opinionated and not at all career minded. She followed my Dad around air force bases and took jobs wherever she could: receptionist in a doctor's office, data entry for the government, admin work on one of the bases.

She was what we call in French "débrouillarde" — she was incredibly adept at adapting. She loved change. Moving every 3 years was something she quickly grew accustomed to doing. Living in English provinces when her home was the heart of Quebec, no problem. She taught me that I'm pretty much made of rubber, and can bounce back from anything.

My mom was also incredibly supportive of anything we wanted to do. Her instinct was to be cautious, but when we succeeded she was always so proud. Sometimes she even expressed awe at what we were capable of. It made me feel like what I was doing was important and that I could succeed no matter what. Hers is a little voice (ok, it's not so little) I carry inside me each and every day.

I lost my mom when I was in university. There is much that she has missed. And I often wonder if — with her influence — my life choices would be different. Honestly, I'm pretty sure I would be in the same place, but perhaps having taken a different path. I'm definitely convinced she would have lost endless sleep during my years working for startups in the tech industry, with no job security whatsoever. Too much risk for her blood, I think; but she would have supported my obstinate self, regardless.

I find myself now encouraging the Dude in the same fashion in which she encouraged me. It's like her voice comes out of me, sounding amazed at some of the things he does. I'm incredibly grateful that I had so much support from her and I still comfort myself thinking that somehow she is pulling strings for me.

She was by no means a geek but she exhibited all the values I love in geek girls: feisty, smart, opinionated, passionate and "débroullarde". I think Mom would have earned an "Honorary Geek" title, for sure.

So who influenced you? Who is your Honorary geek? Leave a comment or a link to your Ada Lovelace post!

About Ada Lovelace

If you want to know more, I've written 2 previous posts on the day:

And a little Ernestine for your retro pleasure:

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