Parenting as ‘The Gambler’

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,

Know when to walk away,
Know when to run.
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealing’s done.

I heard this song on the radio the other day, and as I belted along to the chorus it occurred to me that the lyrics to Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” are very applicable to parenting.  

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em

This one is easy. There are times that your babies just can’t deal. Instead of becoming frustrated and lashing out at your 2-year-old or 12-year-old or 20-year-old, sometimes all they need is to be held. As was beautifully written awhile back, it’s hard for them too. As a mom, I want to know when it’s best to just hold them.

Know when to fold ’em

I consider this line to be a succinct reminder to know when to pick your battles. Not long ago, I took my three children, ages 4, 2, and newborn, to a local brewery. I brought along some quiet activities and snacks for them, and they were extremely well behaved. That is, until they hit their wall. It was time to pack it up — or fold ’em, so to speak. Whether it’s letting my daughter get away with not brushing her teeth on a day we are late to school or being prepared to ask for the check while we are out to eat sooner than I would prefer, it’s good to know when to fold ’em and choose your battles.  

Know when to walk away, know when to run

There are many instances when I need to give full attention to other pieces of me. I am a mother, but I’m also a wife, daughter, friend, and individual. It’s healthy and important for me to concentrate on these other roles on a regular basis.

As long as two out of three kids are fairly quiet, I squeeze in a few minutes of catch-up time with my mom. My monthly book club with friends is my favorite standing night out. There are also times when I am severely burned out from the week, and I run away to get some time for myself. My husband is happy to spend solo time with our children. And I am happy to walk away. I can get in and out of the car without hauling three other bodies, I can sit in one place for 30 minutes, I can go through Target at my own leisurely pace. It is very healthy for me to decompress.

You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table

There are countless times during the week that I am wishing time away. I am counting the minutes until bedtime or the weekend. I am longing for the time when all of my children are in school or, at the very least, able to wipe their own bums. I am envious of friends with older children who seem to have regained a lot of their independence and social life. But I think Kenny Rogers’ words are a good reminder to live in the moment. Or it’s a reminder to not think about what could be — more financial freedom, more independence. Even though, at times, it’s incredibly hard not to want what could be, I’m not going to count my money when I’m sitting at the table.

There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealing’s done

If I think about this line too hard in respect to parenting, it makes me a little teary. There will be plenty of time for counting the memories when our children have flown the coop. We will have our independence and a social life back and be embarking on a new chapter in our marriage. But we will be missing so much. I will be missing the snuggles. The exuberant greetings I receive after being gone only an hour. The enthusiasm that is met when I suggest impromptu ice cream. When this hectic time of having littles is done, there will be plenty of time for counting it all.

There are many songs and lyrics that can be applied to parenting. There are plenty of funny ones, but also many sentimental. Do you have a song or lyric that sticks out in your mind? 


After an illustrious career in politics (including stints on Capitol Hill and on a presidential campaign) and then reinsurance (yeah, that was a career change), Emily decided to once again make a bold move and stay at home after her first daughter was born. Daughter number two came shortly thereafter, and when daughter number three made her debut it became an official girl tribe! The Fahle girls keep super busy and active exploring their beloved town of Scituate and all that Boston and the South Shore have to offer! Emily is currently experiencing getting along with an infant who believes mom is a Holstein, a preschooler who is smarter than her, and a 2-year-old who has drama in her veins. Emily never knew coffee and wine would be such an essential part of her day.