Becoming a parent means many different things to different people. To me, it’s invigorating, frustrating, challenging and fulfilling all at the same time. Recently in a rare moment of quiet when my daughter was taking her afternoon nap, all of my professional writing and editing duties were finished and the dogs had settled down and decided to stop bothering me, I realized the act of raising a child holds a lot of parallels with fighting a boss battle in a game. Here are just a few of those similarities.
Their arrival is met with both anticipation and trepidation
Being pregnant is like living in a constant state of anticipation. Besides your own feelings, everyone around you is also eagerly awaiting the arrival of your child – friends, family, strangers who suddenly feel the need to talk to you and touch your belly. In many games, I’m often eagerly awaiting the next boss battle. After defeating the hydra in God of War, I was on the edge of my seat to see which fantastical mythological creature I would be battling next.
But then at some point, the anticipation turns to trepidation. Games achieve this by giving you glimpses of the creature you’ll be fighting before you actually fight them. To stick with the God of War example, throughout the game, you can see the hulking figure of Ares causing death and destruction in the background, knowing all too well that you’re going to need to be the one to bring him down. There are certain times during pregnancy that can do the same thing. Perhaps you see the blank, exhausted look in the eyes of a mom who is pushing her screaming child in a cart in the grocery store. For me the trepidation started when we set up my daughter’s room. For some reason, the relative permanence of the furniture was a sign that this was really happening. It was that “Uh oh. Here we go” moment.
They drain your health and energy
Bosses in games are always powerful, and a direct hit from one can often take you down to half health or less. But besides your in-game health, fighting a well-designed boss can be mentally fatiguing as well. Your alertness and reflexes need to be hyperfocused, and in some games (I’m looking at you Ocarina of Time) the sounds associated with running around with low health are enough to drive you insane. Kids are no different. Even after you successfully navigate the sleep-deprived newborn stage, your kids will have an uncanny ability to catch all sorts of nasty illnesses that will then be passed on to you. Not to mention the mental and physical energy it takes to deal with a willful toddler who insists on doing the exact opposite of what you say and then finds it hilarious when you get angry.
They require you to make use of all of your skills and abilities
Often, fighting a boss battle will require you to come out of your gaming comfort zone and put to use some things you may be able to get by the rest of the game without doing. Personally, I’m not very good at using ranged weapons in games, so whenever I would come up against a boss that had some element that required me to use a ranged weapon, I would always groan. Similarly, my daughter has forced me to be extremely patient, more empathetic and markedly less sarcastic than I’ve ever been in my life before.
Just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they change things up
Kids are notorious for this. A child that has loved to eat a certain kind of food will suddenly refuse to touch it, or a baby that has been peacefully sleeping all night long will start waking you up at 2 a.m. again. I’ve personally found if I feel like I’m cruising along comfortably when it comes to my daughter, then I better watch out because some new challenge is just around the corner. Bosses are the same way. Most traditional bosses have at least three different stages, each of which requires its own strategy to defeat or survive.
Finishing the battle is both exhausting and fulfilling
Defeating a particularly challenging boss can leave your in-game character low on health and your hands feeling like those of an arthritic old man, but it’s satisfying all the same. In parenthood, the battle is daily. At the end of each day I often feel like I’ve been running in circles while accomplishing little, but then my daughter will give me a hug and tell me that she loves me, and I know I wouldn’t trade this feeling for anything.