Yeah, no. Two weeks into this ongoing project I most certainly do not have a trophy in a Rivals of Ixalan Sealed Friendly league. In fact, so far this week, as of last night at least, I’ve only gotten to take my newest Merfolk / Dinosaur deck out for a spin twice. Now, the deck is pretty sweet and I was able to focus (more on that later) so obviously I won both of those matches. Seven more to go and maybe next week I’ll get to run back the same title and mean it!

In the meantime though I definitely collected plenty of MTGParent trophies! In the past week we unlocked an achievement trophy for taking her on the train in a carrier (the Beco 8 for those who want to know). We also brought her out to dinner at a restaurant (for the second time)! And most importantly we scored a Silver Achievement Trophy for successfully changing a blowout diaper in a public restroom (if you don’t know what a blowout is, I didn’t before becoming a parent, I highly recommend you look it up and thank me later).

Parenting involves a lot of achievement trophies and even though I haven’t been doing this for too long I feel like I’ve already unlocked plenty, though I know there are many, many, many more to come. Similar to playing competitive Magic, it’s important to set attainable goals, achieve them, and then progress further. Goals can be as simple as getting your baby to sleep for 30 minutes in her crib without waking up, or they can be complicated like making your first successful trip to the grocery store without the stroller.

Also like Magic, parenting presents many, many challenges which can feel like setbacks. One of the most important skills a competitive Magic player has to learn is how to analyze their losses and improve from them. In my first sealed pool, when I went 5-4, I lost two matches pretty solidly to BW Vampires, the deck I would argue is the best in the format. After those losses its easy to chalk it up to my opponent having Ravenous Chupacabra or the simple fact that the matchup is bad for me. But what’s more important is critically analyzing the order in which I played out my creatures, or the decision to leave Negate on the sideboard and get blown out by a late-game Golden Demise.

Why is my baby crying a River of Tears? This is a question that literally every single new parent has to deal with on a virtually daily basis. It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t know if they’re hungry, gassy, over-stimulated, over-tired, or in the worst-case scenarios actually ill or somehow hurt. If your baby is has colic it’s easy to get what’s essentially the equivalence of “tilt” but for parenting. The constant crying puts you on-edge and makes you continually question your decisions. You get angry because there’s basically nothing you can do about it. You make worse decisions. You need to break the cycle or you’ll quickly spiral into depression.

Achievement trophies are great because they help us set attainable goals and measure our progress against them. Start small. If you were setting your personal Magic goals like I did a few weeks ago you shouldn’t start with “win a Pro Tour.” Maybe start with “win a game” or “win a match” or “finish 6-3 in a friendly sealed league.” Achieve that goal and move on to the next one.

Parenting is the same. Start small. Don’t open up with, “my child is going to graduate from college three years early and become a world-renowned neurosurgeon before they turn 25.” Work out small, achievable goals you and your children can accomplish. You’ll feel better as you make incremental progress as a parent and they’ll feel better with their own personal growth along the way.

The current goal I’m working on was to win my first Rivals of Ixalan Friendly Sealed league trophy by going 9-0. Right now I’m 2-0 with this Merfolk deck we’ll get into sooner rather than later. Next week maybe I’ll have some new trophies to talk about, both of the parenting and Magical variety! Here’s my hot Magical tip for the week: if you’re playing Merfolk in RIX limited, consider running Negate if you have it. Thank me later.

Rich Stein is a retired Magic player, an amateur content creator, and a Level 2 Social Justice Sorcerer. He hopes to eventually become a professional content creator and a Level 20 dual class Social Justice Sorcerer/Bard but he’s more than content to remain a retired Magic player. You can follow his musings on Twitter @RichStein13.

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