Home Book Virtual Motherhood: Melissa’s Journey in Second Life

Virtual Motherhood: Melissa’s Journey in Second Life

by Prisqua Newall
546 views 9 minutes read

In the sun-drenched state of Florida, 43-year-old Melissa lives a life that transcends the boundaries of the physical world. Her journey into Second Life began as a quest for something more, a pursuit that led her to discover a world where possibilities were boundless, and her deepest desires could take flight.

Her Second Life home, situated in a picturesque residential community estate that resembled a quaint little town, was a peaceful haven amidst the gently falling snow. As I arrived, dressed in a light summer dress, Melissa warmly ushered me inside, away from the cold.

As we settled comfortably in her lounge, her sister-in-law Tasha unexpectedly dropped by. Her arrival added an unexpected dimension to our meeting, turning it into a more inclusive and engaging conversation. Tasha’s presence and insights would soon prove invaluable in understanding Melissa’s journey in Second Life.

Virtual Motherhood: Melissa's Journey in Second Life

Melissa and Tasha

Melissa, a real-life mother of three, always harbored a dream of a large family, a dream that was unattainable in Real Life until she stumbled upon Second Life. Here, she could redefine herself, leaving behind the limitations of reality. Her avatar, a youthful 13-year-old, embarked on a journey that started on the simpler plains of IMVU, a realm of room-to-room explorations, far less complex than the vast, open world of Second Life.

Initially, Second Life’s intricacies overwhelmed her. The complexity of creating an avatar, the open-world environment, and the depth of interactions were a stark contrast to the simplicity of IMVU. Overwhelmed, Melissa retreated, only to return for her sister’s wedding, an event that unexpectedly anchored her to this new world.

In Second Life, Melissa found not just an escape, but a reflection of her innermost desires. The limitations of reality faded away, and her dream of a large family materialized. Here, she could be a mother to as many children as she wished, each one unique, from Zooby babies to child avatars, bots and young adults, all forming a tapestry of virtual kinship.

Her path crossed with a partner, and thus began a tale of virtual love and family. She became a mother to his children, a role she embraced with the warmth and love of her real-world maternal instincts. Their relationship, though it lasted two years, evolved into a friendship post-breakup, united by the shared responsibility of co-parenting in this digital dimension.

What is particularly admirable in this situation is their ability to maintain a co-parenting arrangement despite the breakup. This is a rare occurrence in Second Life, where relationships and even marriages often progress rapidly, only to end just as quickly, frequently resulting in dramatic fallouts or the parties blocking each other.

The ability to navigate a breakup in Second Life and still maintain an amicable relationship, especially in a co-parenting context, is nothing short of remarkable. It not only speaks volumes about the maturity and emotional intelligence of both individuals involved but also significantly enhances Melissa’s admiration.

Her ability to foster and maintain such a healthy dynamic in the often tumultuous world of Second Life underscores her exceptional character and commitment to the well-being of her virtual family.

Melissa’s family in Second Life is large, echoing the dynamics of real-life families. They share stories, support each other through good and bad days, and celebrate with family dinners and games. They all stay in touch outside Second Life with a potential of meeting up in Real Life. Though scattered across the globe, their bond is as real as any forged in the physical world.


”I’m freee …”

”If I say yes, then I’m babysitting,” Tasha said when asked if she was part of Melissa’s family.

Interestingly, Melissa’s role as a mother extended beyond the virtual. Her virtual children, adults in the real world, sought in Second Life what they missed in their actual childhoods. Melissa provides them with love, care, and the nurturing they crave, fulfilling a vital role in their lives.

Her story took another turn when she met her current partner, Tasha’s real-life brother, a man with three children who quickly embraced Melissa as their mother.

“She stole his kids.”

”Poor man did not know what happened to him,” Tasha added jokingly.

Their relationship, blossoming in Second Life, mirrors real-life complexities. Though not officially married, Melissa lovingly referred to him as her husband, highlighting the deep connection they shared.

“I am single in RL, so I have always been opened to possibilities of taking a relationship here to real life,” Melissa said.

Melissa’s experience in Second Life blurs the line between virtual and real emotions. The time spent together, the shared experiences, all contribute to genuine feelings that often extend beyond the virtual world. Now, planning to meet in real life, Melissa and her partner stand at the precipice of a new chapter, one that began in a world created by pixels but grounded in very real emotions. world she speaks to and treat her children as such, but outside of SL she talks to them as adults. She has no problem transitioning between the two.

“See, people who play kids want to be treated as kids, however when they are in RL, they speak as adults,” Tasha added.

Tasha, who falls within the 45-50 age bracket, brought a dynamic energy to our Second Life interview. Her demeanor, marked by a blend of snarky wit and humor, exuded the vivacity often associated with a younger adult. Yet, beneath this lively exterior, her reflections on life resonated with the wisdom and depth characteristic of her actual age group.

This contrast between her spirited interaction style and her insightful contemplation on life offered a fascinating glimpse into the complexities of her personality, both in the virtual world and in reality.

Virtual Motherhood: Melissa's Journey in Second Life

Meet Leelee.

interMelissa, unbothered by external opinions, finds solace and fulfillment within her family circle, both in Second Life and the real world. And it is enviable.

I find a deep connection with Melissa’s story, as I too have longed for a mother figure in my Second Life. This desire stems from a belief that such connections should unfold naturally rather than being forced. As I explore in my book, some of the most profound connections in Second Life are formed instantaneously.

This longing can be traced back to my strained relationship with my own mother, a relationship that led to years of silence. Being in Australia, far from my parents in France, made it easier to maintain this distance. However, everything shifted when I learned of my mother’s terminal illness. Contrary to the initial prognosis, her robust health allowed her to surpass expectations, surviving several years beyond what was predicted.

This realization coincided with the onset of the pandemic, and it was through Google Nest that I rekindled connections with my family. As my mother’s health declined, Google Nest served as a lifeline, keeping us together despite her diminishing ability to communicate. Her speech became increasingly impaired, eventually leaving her unable to speak. I found myself watching her funeral on Zoom, a painful moment shared with my children and their partners.

Understanding why individuals might seek solace in Second Life, particularly in the realm of virtual families, requires an appreciation of their personal circumstances. For those who cannot have children or face other life challenges, Second Life offers an invaluable alternative.

The platform enables the formation of meaningful relationships, whether it’s providing a listening ear or a virtual embrace. The nature of these interactions is secondary to their profound impact. Second Life is more than a game; it’s a space where dreams are nurtured, and joy is found.

I cannot help but feel a sense of envy towards Melissa’s children for having such a dedicated and loving mother in their virtual world. Melissa’s unwavering presence in their lives is truly commendable. Her story is not just about virtual motherhood, but about the enduring power of love and connection, regardless of the medium.

The phenomenon of adults adopting child avatars in Second Life is a multifaceted aspect of virtual reality that, under the right circumstances, can be a profoundly positive experience. These avatars offer a unique opportunity for individuals to explore aspects of themselves, recapture lost experiences, or fulfill unmet needs from their own childhoods. In the compassionate and understanding environment of Second Life, these expressions are not only accepted but can also be therapeutic and deeply fulfilling.

Moreover, the existence of family dynamics within Second Life, as exemplified by Melissa and her virtual family, showcases the platform’s remarkable ability to create genuine, nurturing relationships. These virtual families, transcending traditional boundaries, provide a sense of belonging, love, and support that is as real and impactful as any found in the physical world. It’s a testament to the versatility and emotional depth that virtual worlds can offer.

In this digital age, where technology often blurs the lines between reality and virtual worlds, Second Life stands as a shining example of how virtual environments can enrich lives, providing spaces for growth, healing, and the flourishing of human connections. The beauty of such platforms lies in their ability to accommodate diverse needs and experiences, offering a safe haven where individuals can find understanding, acceptance, and the joy of familial bonds, regardless of the form they take.

The exploration of adults behind child avatars in Second Life is explored in my book “Digital Existence: The Parallel Universe of Second Life.” It reveals a nuanced and often positive aspect of virtual reality. These virtual personas provide adults with a unique avenue to explore and perhaps recapture aspects of their childhood, offering a therapeutic and fulfilling experience within the right context.

Follow Melissa on TikTok.


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