Balance In the Life of a #FABDad!


Welcome back to another installment in the #FABDad series! Today’s topic is going to be just a little less “FAB,” and a lot more “Dad.” What does that mean? It means that today, we’ll be contemplating-

What Does it Mean to #FABDad?

The love between a parent and a child is forged in the divine fires of eternity.” ~Unknown

I don’t remember who it was that first used the expression, “#FABDad.” I remember watching live coverage of one of the streamed events a few months ago and the caster said it out loud while interacting with the chat. Being both a parent and a gamer can be hard sometimes, so the expression stood out to me.

I’ve been a gamer and self-confessed/enthusiastic trading card game nerd for many, many years at this point. (Longer than any millennial wants to think about or admit to themselves, honestly.) When I first met my wife a little over 15 years ago, she had no idea how deeply my passion for pretty cardboard rectangles actually went and no interest in them herself. Over the last decade and a half, however, we’ve built a family together and “nerd culture” has become a part of our family identity.

Everyone Knows Being a Spouse/Parent Is a Tough Job. What Does That Have to Do With FAB?

Nothing directly, if we’re being honest. The two are pretty well unrelated most of the time, but what I’ve gathered on social media platforms across the internet is that there are a lot of us in the Flesh and Blood world who have parenthood in common. When I first heard the term “#FABDad” it struck me that there really is an uncountable number of us out there in the world. Moms and dads who face the same challenges of daily life that I do and use Flesh and Blood as their outlet for stress and to find a sense of camaraderie with their community.

It might sound a little cliché, but I felt a little less alone and a lot more invested in this community of gamers after that stream. When I found the opportunity to write here for FABREC and give one #FABDad’s point of view on things, I wanted to jump on it.

How Does a Busy Parent/Spouse Like You or Me Balance Our Time to Play Then?

If you’re in a relationship and your significant other doesn’t share your interest in cards or gaming (like my wife, for example), it’s important to understand the value of clear communication. I learned early on in my adulthood that there’s no such thing as over-communication with the people you love most and being open and honest with your spouse really does work. While you (might) know what’s going on inside of your head, the people you surround yourself with most assuredly do not. I’ve often found that the best way to get the things I need are to state them directly and to be frank.

My wife and I sat down together a while back and I explained to her why it was important for me to engage in a game outside of the house. Being the wonderful person she is, she helped me look at our weekly schedule and we worked things out to where I’m able to go to one of my local Armories twice a week. If I find myself with some extra free, non-family, time at home, I’ll usually spend it organizing my collection or getting a few reps in online if I’m lucky. I believe in taking care of my family’s needs first and foremost, then my own second, so everything in my home life is balanced so long as I’m spending as much or more quality time with my ladies as I am playing FAB.

Maybe I’m getting a little cantankerous as the years go by, but I believe we could all use a lot more frankness in our lives. Beating around the bush, dropping hints, and just hoping to be understood generally leads to frustration and unmet needs. Tell your partner what you need or what you want! As long as you don’t do so in an aggressive or abrasive manner, they’ll probably appreciate it. (Wouldn’t you appreciate knowing exactly what they want without having to guess or drag it out of them?)

Communication Is a Big Deal in a Relationship. We’ve Heard That Before and Yeah, That Makes sense. What About the Kids?

Kids spell love T-I-M-E.” ~John Crudele

My girls are my pride and joy. Seeing them grow has been the greatest journey of my life and we all know parenthood is a life-long job. They’ve developed their own interests as they’ve gotten older of course, but a lot of my passion for nerdy things has rubbed off on them. Both kids are really into Pokemon (the whole IP, not just one focused aspect), and as a family we eat dinner together every night and watch anime (mixed in with various amounts of YouTube videos of animal fails, satisfying videos, etc.)

My balance with my girls comes from making sure that I pay them both individual attention. Before I left for Baltimore the weekend of the Pro Tour, for example, I took my girls out on a daddy-daughter day, one at a time, and spent the day doing whatever they wanted to do. I was going to be gone for several days, so I wanted to make sure they felt how much I love them. One wanted to go to the park, get boba tea, and have lunch with me, while the other wanted me to drive her around Pokemon hunting on Pokemon Go.

Specifically In Our Day-to-Day Lives Though, Where’s the Balance?

When kids are young, assuming all the necessities of life are being met, all they really want from their parents is attention. Mine get this from me when we’re playing around, or most often whenever they want to tell me a story about what happened in their lives that day. Usually it’s something that’s happened in one of their games, the latest 5th grade gossip, or what interesting thing our cats did before I got home from work.

Do I care who has a crush on who in my 10 year-old’s class? Most of the time, not at all. But, I try to always listen to what they have to say, whenever they want to talk to me, even if I have to do so while doing housework. I’m not only listening and giving feedback here, but I feel like I’m investing in my future relationship with my daughters. I’m trying to reinforce the idea that they can come to me with anything. I don’t want them to ever worry about whether or not their Daddy will listen to their issues or concerns. Even if you’re busy, I think it’s worth the small amount of time it takes to listen to our kids’ stories. You never know when they’ll stop wanting to share them with you.

Time, Attention, and Communication. That’s Where a #FABDad’s Balance Comes From?

Absolutely. Life is a constant balancing act between our responsibilities, our loves, and our passions. We do what we have to do first, then we do what need to do, then finally we do what we want to do. In order to pursue our passions, we have to make sure our foundations are solid. For me, and I suspect most other FAB parents, that foundation is the home life.

Have you found your own balance between real life and FAB? Are your loved ones as invested in the game as you are? How many cute pets do you have? I’d love to know, so tell me in the comments or find me on Twitter or Discord as Dracohominis87!

Donnie is an enthusiastic nerd and family man who grew up playing TCGs, starting when Pokemon cards were the hottest thing on the playground. After playing Yu-gi-oh and then Magic the Gathering for years, he found Flesh and Blood in December of '22, sold all of his other pretty cardboard rectangles, and dived into FAB head first where he discovered a deep love for go-wide strategies involving the use of Ninja cards. Be Like Water is his current favorite card, because he gets to do a terrible Bruce Lee impression every time it's played. (Much to the annoyance of his brother who hears it a lot.) Donnie has been married to his lovely wife since Halloween 2008 and has two beautiful daughters that he couldn't be more proud of.