Moms don't need a kid around to play games, donchaknow!

So, happy Mother's Day to all of you moms out there in GIO land!  I know that on this day, it's all supposed to be about you (and I), so I figured I'd pull my blogging creds out of the closet, dust them off and, after hacking and coughing a bit to clear my nasal cavity of all of that dust, make a special little post just for the ladies with the kids out there.

I am a mom.  I also play video games.  I have been playing games since I was a child back in the good old days of SNES and N64.  So for me, there's something wrong with the above image.  Now, this is not to say that playing games with your kids is wrong and bad- far from it!  I love the idea of playing age-appropriate games with my daughter when she is old enough to really "get" the controller scheme (as of today, she's still only 2 years old, so that's a ways off). However, I think that there is something problematic with the societal assumption that moms only play games to humor their children.

There are obviously moms out there like this.  I'm sure that some of you have wheedled or tricked your mom into playing a two player game with you during childhood.  But I am part of a "hidden" group of gamer moms who grew up with gaming and enjoy gaming for gaming's sake, not just because our kids are into it.  And because of this, many of these mom gamers are taking a backseat in their gaming habits because there's only one TV (at least in my apartment there is) and there are at least a couple other gamers who want to use a console game.

Pictured above: THE GAMING OBLISK OF THE HOUSE OF ONI (also known as a big TV)

Currently, there are six different consoles hooked up to our TV.  From the SNES to the XBOX360, we have all our bases covered.  But one TV means that only one person can play one console game at a time (unless the game is something that more than one person would like to play together).  I can't play Skyward Sword (yes, I'm still in the middle of playing through it) and my husband cannot play Mass Effect 3 at the same time.  Of course, once our children are old enough to play as well, that's going to add even more people to the mix wanting to play.  

So guess who tends to end up playing on the console?  My husband.  This is not because he is mean and rude to me, but rather because his games are generally ONLY on the console, and I have my handhelds to keep me busy (I love, love, love my 3DS, PSP and DS lite).  There is also the fact that we tend to use the XBOX for Netflix and my daughter is often clamoring to watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (Season 2 just got posted up there so she's over the moon).  I often feel as though I should not complain because I am blessed to have so many entertainment options in the first place and there are people in the Third World who don't have enough batteries to power their old gray Game Boy bricks who would be happy to have the problems that I have etc etc etc.


The hugs and flowers are sweet, but Moms aren't all the same when it comes to Mother's Day.

I do think that it is not really all that much to ask to give Mom some time to choose what SHE wants to do, especially when it comes to Mother's Day.  Now, considering that today is the day in question (or, at least at the time of this posting), there are some socially mandated "things that moms like on Mother's Day" that seem to permeate our culture.  Things like flowers, breakfast in bed, nice heartfelt cards, etc, are all great.  But when it comes to Mother's Day, not all moms want to do the same things.  There seem to be a lot of "events" created with the generic Mom in mind, but the truth of the matter is that many moms just want to stay home and get a good long stretch of uninterrupted time to herself- time that she can choose to do whatever she wants to do without being interrupted.

Now, you might think that this sounds weird.  If you are a kid, or as a young adult with plenty of time and not too many outside responsibilities, you probably have plenty of uninterrupted time that you end up writing off as "boring."  But the truth of the matter is that the average mom is overworked.  Most moms work full time jobs outside the home and then come home to all the stuff that needs to be done when she puts down her purse and keys (cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping ,etc).  Of course, there are many fine dads and family members who help out, but in a dual income household (which is becoming basically mandatory in our current slumped economy), it can be hard to get the basics done by the end of the day, much less basic leisure time or a good long chunk of gamer time.  And compounding this problem is the fact that many moms have a lot of pressure to be "perfect mom/wife/worker" on their heads, and that often involves putting everyone else ahead of herself.

It may not be right, or ideal, but many women feel like failures if they let their children or their spouse/partner down.  And because of that, most moms are used to not asking for what they want or even asking for help (because people often expect moms to "do it all" or she's considered weak).

"I love you very much, but would it kill you to nap for an hour so I can play some Bejeweled?"

And don't get me started on the number of moms who were playing "casual" games and ended up not paying attention to their toddler for a minute leading to that child being harmed or injured (a couple of sad stories in the news or on the internet about toddlers who drowned or zapped themselves by sticking something in a light socket just because Mom was checking her Farmville for a minute are enough to give any mom grey hairs!).  Imagine if your child were to become injured or hurt just because you were focused on gaming?  And that's not even touching on all the examples where parents seriously neglected their children's needs due to being addicted to MMORPGs.  Most stories about Moms gaming in the news tend to have a negative slant like the stories mentioned above, and there's a lot of fear that by not attending to your child every hour of the day, you're basically stunting them or outright HARMING them!

So what is a mother to do?

Sometimes the simplest sentiments are the best sentiments.

For this Mother's Day, and perhaps for the upcoming year, I would like to suggest that you do your best to give your mom some "time off."  It doesn't have to be anything fancy like sending her to the hairdresser or spending money on an exorbitant fancy lunch.  What moms need more than anything is TIME to themselves.  Not just the five precious minutes between where you ask her for help on homework problems or the time she "gets to herself" while waiting in line at the grocery store or pharmacy- those seconds are just that- time between things that she Must Get Done.

What is REALLY indulgent for a mom is to spend a good long hour without anyone whining at her or expecting her to solve a dispute or make a Big Decision (often involving the ice cream truck that keeps blasting music down the street all afternoon).  Or where she can spend uninterrupted time truly CHOOSING what she would like to do.  Fancy breakfasts in bed and flowers aside, most moms, including gamer moms, just want to be left to their own devices for awhile- given that taste of freedom to be the boss of their own life instead of being stuck on a hamster wheel desperately trying to make sure everyone else's needs are met.

To be clear:

The gift of letting me sleep in for a couple extra hours in the morning is better than a fancy iPad.

The gift of giving me a good solid two hours to fumble with the Skyward Sword control scheme on the Wii is better than a weekend at a bed and breakfast inn.

The gift of napping in the sun at the park while my husband keeps a close eye on our daughter so I don't have to run after her or discipline her every time she throws wood chips all over the place is better than any jewelry you can buy at a store.

And the gift of being loved, being appreciated, and being told that, "hey, you're doing a good job, Mom!"- well that's just priceless.


Important Pregnancy Update: So just for those of you who were wondering how I'm doing as far as growing Human Baby #2- I'm doing ok.  I just cleared the first trimester (which is a big step because it lowers the chance of miscarriage- I'm also feeling the baby move and at my last doctor appointment the heartbeat was consistant and strong).  I've been checking my blood sugar every day (I had mild gestational diabetes that went away after my first pregnancy, so they're really cautious this time in case it comes back), but all my numbers look totally normal, which is awesome.  I'm definitely "showing" but I kinda still think I just look like I am doing my best Homer Simpson beer belly impression.  

I have to go to Stanford next week for a special heart sonogram for the baby- it's just a precaution, but I'm somewhat nervous about it.  I will also be getting the second trimester ultrasound later on this month so that they can make sure that the baby's body is developing normally and I may also find out the sex of the baby! Yay! I'm happy with either boy or girl, but that means that once it's definitive, the Great Name Debate will be ON (suggestions are welcome, but not necessarily going on the final list, lol).  I'm crossing my fingers that all goes well and I have a healthy happy little person in there!

Unfortunately, that means that with all the doctors and blood tests and screenings and general pregnancy fatigue (hey, growing a human is hard work you know!), I have not been able to blog (or do much of anything internet related) lately, but I've been thinking about all of you on GIO every day, and when I get the chance to check the GIO Brony group on Facebook, I try to keep fairly active there.  I promise that once I do get some more "time to myself" that I will be back, with an awesome vengeance...but for now, I may only post sporadically.  After all, a girl's got to get time to game!


So as far as the blog is concerned-

What did you do for your mom this Mother's Day?

Does your mom play games or does she only play when you ask?

And finally, what sort of parent do you think that you would (or currently are) be when it comes to games?  Would you restrict them, play with them, or simply let them choose their own tastes?

I hope that all is well with you, dear readers!