I started playing video games at a very young age. Some of my earliest memories are playing Pong with my dad on our old Atari or sitting around and playing our Nintendo with the family in our dedicated game room growing up. My mom never really got invested in playing with my dad, sister, or myself, though. She was much more of a classic card or board game player but she quickly realized how much fun I had with video games and for the most part, supported the hobby.
As I grew, it was a tough balancing act for her to be sure. She would often chastise me for spending too much time in front of the screen and not enough time outside playing with friends. And I'm actually very grateful that she would sometimes kick me off and force me to go play soccer or basketball (I can't begin to count the number of times I would run through imaginary play-by-plays in my driveway with our standalone Shaq-inspired basketball hoop). Or when I would get in trouble, I'd be grounded from video games so I'd have to read books instead. Getting me out of the house every now and then or redirecting my interests helped make me a much more well-rounded person.
But every year, she would brave early morning Black Friday sales in order to get me some of the games I would circle in the Christmas advertisements.
While she never really cared about the games themselves, she would always care about what I thought of the games, letting me ramble on for hours and hours telling her all of the cool things I had done in the latest Mario or Final Fantasy game or proofreading school essays about my video game collection and what it meant to me.
And what a ridiculously expensive hobby to support?! We were never really on the front-lines of the systems growing up, often waiting until we could find a good deal at the swap mart or a yard sale. We also no doubt took full advantage of the Blockbuster down the street, renting more games that I'll ever possibly remember. But even so, my mom invested thousands and thousands of dollars into this passion of mine because she could see the fire it lit inside me.
Even now, as a grown man, she'll still get me video games for my birthday or Christmas. In the last year or so, she has watched me fly across the country in pursuit of this passion. Hell, she's probably excited I'm actually making friends through gaming after all those years of solitary play.
She's always wanted me to settle down with a nice well-paying practical career, wishing I would have been a doctor/lawyer/engineer/President/etc. But she also knows what it would mean if I were able to turn this whole video game part of my life into an actual career. She'll always be concerned about how much money I'm making and if it's enough to afford living in a place like San Francisco but at the end of the day, she knows how hard I've been working for it and how happy it would make me.
And we'll both know I couldn't have done it without her.
Happy Mother's Day!