Achievement Unlocked: Daily Quests
The hardest thing for me to do in an MMORPG was daily quests. I couldn’t handle the repetition, or withstand the drudgery of fishing in the same spot or making the same craft over and over and over again.
I worked for months trying to get a flying, fiery mount in World of Warcraft. It was the Flameward Hippogryph and a friend showed me his version one night when I was visiting him before I officially returned to the game after finishing my Ph.D. It was beautiful. There was just something about riding a flying mount with flaming wings and steampunk accented riding gear that I could not help chasing after. The cold stare in her aqua blue eyes. She was mesmerizing.
Every day for weeks I went into the hotbed area known as the Molten Front. There I had to collect as many Marks of the World Tree as I could gather by performing several tasks. These included: healing a various wounded animals depending on the day, killing bad guys, and assisting with different magical problems like gathering wisps or killing Stranglevine (because, you know, it strangles you.) I diligently did as I was told and healed the same kittens from the same hellfire flames, killed the same dangerous flowers, and and ran around in the same circles time and time again, all for this one achievement that would allow me to ride the most beautiful mount I had ever seen.
I made it about halfway through the quests I needed to get the mount and then quit not only the daily quests but the game entirely. It’s generally not in my personality to quit anything. I will stick with books or TV shows I’m not entirely enjoying just because I have to know how the story ends. But I felt no remorse leaving those quests behind. It was a relief to be out from the pressure of keeping up with these daily tasks.
It was only after I became a mom that I realized exactly how good I had it in those daily quests. Mothering brought out a whole new level of daily activities, of demands and pushes on my time and energy that make the time I spent killing flowers and healing kittens seem mild in comparison.
My life was pretty fleshed out by the time I decided I really wanted to have kids. I’d had different routines at different points in my life, shifted and measured what was important and what needed doing when. I figured keeping up as a mom wouldn’t be so tough.
But the funny thing about routine as a mom is it isn’t about YOUR routine anymore. It becomes about your kid’s routine. At the very beginning the routine is simply to keep this brand new human alive. My routine and how I needed to get things done had changed.
It was somewhere around the six week growth spurt when it sank in exactly how my daily quests had to change. I started teaching online again only two weeks after my daughter was born. She was almost two weeks past her due date and as a part time faculty, I am bound to the college’s schedule as to when I can begin classes. My college was hugely understanding and had done their best to push my start dates out a full four weeks so that I could have a month after her due date to begin teaching.
You can do the math and see how that ended.
The six week growth spurt hit right about the same time the first major assignments were due in both my classes. I had 70 papers to grade and a newborn who would scream if my husband held her for longer than it took me to take a bio break.
In utter exhaustion and desperation, I laid my laptop on the bed and laid her in front of the keyboard and I nursed her laying on my side while reading and grading papers. It was awkward. It took significantly longer to grade papers than it ever would have if I’d been sitting upright at a computer like a normal person but everyone was happy, except perhaps the students who got Ds on the paper for lack of content but they would have been unhappy regardless of how well the newborn was functioning. I was happier taking care of her and getting my work done at the same time so I might have been a little more forgiving than I normally am.
Sometimes the solutions to the change in the routine are obvious. Difficult, like nursing and grading papers, but straight-forward at least.
There are many days as a mom I can’t keep up with the game.
Here’s the thing.
No one is good at this at first and most good parents never feel like they’ve got this whole thing mastered.
This is one place where parenthood as a game really differs. I mastered those daily quests. There was little variation in the routine, there wasn’t a lot of upset to the schedule, and I was running those quests about a year after they were “new” so I didn’t even have a lot of competition for resources.
This is never the case as a parent. Because the daily quests you’re running are yours and someone else’s quests. There is another person to take care of, who has wants, and needs, and demands, and on top of all of that has to learn EVERYTHING about the world.
The daily quests as a parent are ever changing, a moving target; much more FPS than RPG. I needed to dodge and lunge. Sometimes literally. One time my husband literally dodged projectile vomit when we tried to place her in the baby swing. My FPS skills never mapped into my real life game so well and I ended up doing several hearty piles of vomit covered laundry.
When I think back to that time now, when she was brand new and I was learning just as much, perhaps a little more even, than she was on our first daily quests, I see it in a bit of rosey glow. Kinda like the light that shimmered from the Flameward Hippogryph wings.