Rabbit over at Gamers With Jobs posted an interesting Christmas-themed essay today concerning his growing discomfort/horror of being a responsible grown-up and parent at the cost of his own gaming time and fun. That as kids grow up, parents must give up some of their own time and interests in order to support their kids’ activities and interests.
As a father of one speedy-crawling 8-month-old boy (who thinks the word “No!” is really, really funny) and a little girl who’s a few months away from joining us on the outside, this essay caught my attention in a personal way. I understand just how much growing responsibilities and additional family members can demand more time from you, and how (as Rabbit put it) there’s this feeling of a “box” that’s closing in.
The thing is, as much as I appreciate Rabbit’s honesty and his apparent effort in raising his kids, the mindset that your kids/family are leeching away the fun out of your life and the only enjoyment you can have is to live vicariously through them is somewhat askew. People have been telling me that my life has been over for the past five years — first when I got married, then when #1 came along, and now with the second on the way. They always say it in that mock-horror-but-not-really-mock tone, watching my reaction to see if I’m going to grimace or shriek loudly.
Yeah, life has become different, but it’s not over. I didn’t stop being a gamer when I got married, I simply had to reprioritize, compromise and balance my activities. Same with my kids. Sure, my available gaming time will continue to decrease over the next couple decades, but I sincerely doubt that it will vanish, or that my life will only be an extension of my kids.
I look to my friend Bob — 4 kids, a full-time pastor, and… a gamer. He games when he can, and it’s a great source of stress-relief and downtime for him. I look at my brother Jared — 4 kids and all, and he still engages in multiple hobbies, from woodworking to guitar playing to reading. They certainly don’t have the free time they once did, but they wouldn’t say they’re “boxed” in either.
I have no idea if my kids will be gamers or athletes or musicians or whatever, and I’m not going to push them in one direction or the other. But for the record, my son absolutely loves to sit on his dad’s lap and watch the moving pictures as I play a MMO.
And then he tries to eat my mouse.