Everything I learned about parenting, I learned at the card tables

Before my children were born, we spent a good amount of time in the casinos.  I prefer poker.  But I also spent my fair share of time at the black jack and Paigow tables.

Sadly, our gambling escapades are few and far between nowadays.

But while I’m still figuring out this whole parenting thing on a daily basis, I have found that the tips I gleaned from my card playing days have come in handy over the past few years.   In reality, there are a lot of random parallels between parenting and playing cards.

You can’t win unless you put your money into the pot.  This is especially true for us.  We were married for seven years before we had kids.  We had always planned on having children, but the timing was never absolutely perfect.  Finally, we just decided to push all in.  And, looking back, I can’t believe it took us that long to get in the game.

Sometimes you’ll hit the jackpot.  You’ll have the days chock full of you’re-the-best-mommy-ever’s, i-love-you’s and this-is-the-best-dinner-i-ever-had’s.

And other days, you’ll feel like you’re getting the bad beat in the parenthood department.  Those are the days rife with the you’re-soooo-mean’s, i-want-daddy-instead’s and this-dinner-smells-like-zebra-poop’s.

When the bad beats come, you’ll feel like walking away from the game.  Quitting.  And then you’ll feel awful for ever thinking that.  Because you love poker your kids with all of your heart.  So you ante up for another round.

The free cocktails can make you play a little looser.  And enjoy the game a little more.

The free cocktails can lead to other things as well.  (See also: “What happens in Vegas, doesn’t always stay in Vegas.”)  Maybe not immediately, but 9 or 10 months down the road.  Just sayin’.

There’s always going to be another player at the table who criticizes the way you play.  In poker, you can just ignore them, and gloat in the fact that your chip stack is bigger than theirs.  In the game of parenthood, the criticism stings a littler harder.  Just remember you’re holding a different set of cards then they are.  You play your hand, and they play theirs.  In the end, you’re both on the same side of the table.

You’ll make mistakes.  Lots of ’em.  Don’t dwell on them.  ‘Cause if you do, you’ll start playing on tilt, which is never a good thing.  Mistakes can be learning experiences.  How else would you figure out that feeding your child blueberries before doing airplane rides around the living room was a very, very bad idea?

As soon as you think you’ve got parenthood figured out, you may decide to double down.  And, if you’re lucky, you may get dealt another kiddo.  If this happens?  Rest assured, everything you ever thought you learned from the first go-around will promptly be thrown out the window… because no two hands of cards ever play out exactly the same way.

You’ll pick and choose your battles.  You’ll find yourself compromising in areas you never thought you would. As Kenny Rogers said so eloquently, you’ll learn when to hold ’em… as well as when to fold ’em.  Sometimes you’ll walk away from a battle with your children.  And, sometimes, you’ll run.

Sometimes you’ll feel like the pit boss, standing off to the side while watching other people gamble and get sloshed while you have to work.  You’ll feel left out, and a little envious of the life you used to live pre-kids.

You’ll also have those days when you wonder why you chose the job in the first place.  But at the end of the day, you get paid.  In more ways than you can possibly imagine.

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Ah, Vegas.  The happiest place on earth.

13 thoughts on “Everything I learned about parenting, I learned at the card tables”

  1. "Maybe not immediately, but 9 or 10 months down the road."I am pretty sure I know what happens 9 months after the free cocktails, but I'm wondering what happens 10 months down the road?Seriously, loved the analogy. I have a couple of card related tattoos because the insights you mention in this post are so profound. One big one for me, as the father of a special needs kid, is that sometimes you just have to play the hand your dealt.Another is that you can better your odds by learning the game, inside and out, but the next card out of the chute is always up to fate. There are no guarantees in vegas, in life and in parenthood.Great post.

  2. If only they gave you free cocktails for parenting.Another parallel? It's not the cards/kids you get, but how you play/raise 'em.Also, you'll need repeated trips to the ATM – kids and poker are expensive.

  3. Love it! I'm not much of a card player, but I totally get what you're saying….especially knowing when to walk away or RUN!We waited 7 years to have kids, too! And yeah, once we got on that bus I wondered what took us so long.

  4. Now I'm thinking I should maybe grow a Kenny Rogers mustache…I think that would make me a better parent too, don't you?

  5. Love this! Will be sending to my DH who is a huge poker fan. When the minister asked him at our wedding ceremony if he would have me and hold me for richer for poorer, etc, he said "I'm all in." Ah sweet love….

  6. Great post! I do wish the kids would serve me a drink every now and then. I'm just asking for water here!

  7. What do you mean we'll get paid? Where's my pay? I think I've been getting ripped off, I never got no payment!Seriously though, very terrific post! Loved the metaphors, girl, you got all thinky and introspective!

  8. You really need to stop participating it the Word Up Yo meme. No one is ever going to asked to join the Nerd Mafia with you wining all the time. ;)Fab post!

  9. lol i love this! excellent parallels and nicely played with the lingo! well done, mama! well done, indeed! (and i seriously spit my coffee out laughing at the what stays in vegas…part! hi-lar-i-ous!) 🙂

  10. Hahahaha fantastic piece! I don't play cards but I can relate to all that you're saying. Brilliant!

  11. It's like a competitive game of war. You win and lose and lose and win. You're happy, then pissed, then on the brink of throwing in the towel and then one little card gives you all the momentum to turn the tides.

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