Written by: Mike McCafferty (Slice of SciFi Guest Contributor)
Mother’s Day is here and so it’s time for me to give a shout out to my mom. Now even though it is Mother’s Day and it is a nice gesture, it would be a little off topic if I didn’t justify why I’m posting this on Slice of SciFi (And when did we lose the hyphen in “Sci-fi”? Are we all fans of ScienceFiction now, with no space but the one 62 miles above us?) and not www.IloveMyMommyInBlogForm.com. But fear not, for the reason, gentle reader is just: My mom is a nerd.
Yep, I said it, and by the four arms of the Kraken, I stand by it! My mom is a total sci-fi geek/nerd and I’m posting it for millions to see.
Of course, you don’t have a nerd mom, right? Are you sure?
To be honest, I don’t know how any mother could love anything Scifi or fantasy as it seems like the mother roles are the worst ones. Sure there’s father-son relations everywhere in Sci-fi (oops, hyphen) and if there’s not one, just wait for the older villain and the younger hero to square off. Within 15 seconds, you KNOW the bad guy is gonna play the “I am your father” card, whether real or not. We so want that Field of Dreams moment we find our dads any way we can get them: clones, alternate universe, robots, shapeshifters or time-travel stories where it’s revealed we fathered ourselves. Ugh.
But mom roles? Few and far between. The best you can usually hope for is some alien insect queen that descends from a mucous lined web strand and promises the hero that her children will consume him slowly. It’s either that or she becomes a part of the over used “Move out of your Mom’s basement, nerd” joke — you know the joke told by all the cool people years ago who now happen to work for computer companies founded by said basement dwellers. In short, the list of Mom’s in Scifi is short. Too short.
Of course, part of the reason is that most guys are remiss to even mention their mom as far as influences in Scifi, let alone include them in their writing. Hell, we can’t even call and say “I love you Mom” so how could we credit them with anything as formative as our love of Scifi/fantasy worlds. It’s hard enough being cool with your 8th level elf/paladin character in a world of fighter/mages without having to credit your mom for color-coordinating his armor and tunic on your character drawings. To the Scifi guy, moms are sadly nonexistent.
I’m a great example of this fault. For most of my teen and adult life, I was convinced that my love of Science fiction was self-created, a spontaneously generated interest designed to be counter-culture against jocks and cool people. Science Fiction was my goth/emo time that was totally my own and allowed me to establish an identity and self-worth. It was all me because I was just that special, damnit!
And then something funny happened: I had kids of my own.
I sat there with my four year old recently, trying desperately showing him the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars, and more importantly which one was better. It was a difficult go, and in between explaining midi-chlorians and tribbles, I wondered if he’d even remember that I took the time to be there for him on this stuff. I desperately hoped the answer was yes, and quickly wondered if my mom had ever influenced me in anything…
And that’s when it hit me. It was the â€œSixth Senseâ€ moment, the moment where suddenly everything that was always right in front of my face was suddenly revealed to me for the first time:
She watched every episode and loved every moment of my screen time, even when I didn’t.
Like Bruce Willis, I almost fell to the floor as each moment of my past flashed in my present. I was stunned that I had willfully forgotten all of that to bolster my own self-perception but more importantly that my mom ROCKED! All those years of being there, being my Scifi Yoda, answering my questions and patiently watching me grow, and then leave without thanking her. The moment that this hit me like Thor’s hammer and the mix of surprise and embarrassment was too much not to write about.
So I throw the gauntlet to you, Scifi commando, on this holiest of maternal days. You could send flowers, a card or take her to dinner today, but I dare you to do more. I challenge you to think back and remember those moments when your passion for different worlds was at it’s lowest, when the real world threatened to crush your visions. Look around in that fuzzy memory of yours and see if you can find your mom somewhere nearby, rooting you on. She may not be the Scifi badass my mom turned out to be, but I bet you that she loved you for being passionate about something and always had a kind word or glass of Tang when you needed it. When you find that moment, I’ll bet you find more, as I did. String enough together and you too might have enough evidence of having a nerd/nerd sympathizing mom too.
And now, here’s the tough part: acknowledge her for it. Cards and cakes are fine gestures, but the real gold-pressed latinum for her heart is to tell her how she helped you become the full fledged, well rounded, scifi-lovin’ nerd that you always wanted to be. It’s the best payment for the years of selfless effort to bring you up and out into the world. Tell her how she was there at the critical times to help you along and how youâ€™re now thanking her for it. I know it’s hard — hell, I’m hiding it in a Slice of SciFi post — but trust me, it is worth it.
Because she is.