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Mom Life? It’s Basically Whack-a-Mole: The Stress of Parenting

When I was a kid, I loved the carnival games at the local amusement park. The joyful music, the games of chance, and the salty-sweet smell of kettle corn thrilled me.

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One of my favorite games was whack-a-mole. Mallet in hand, your objective was to smack down the plastic moles that appeared at random, and the faster you smacked them, the faster another one appeared. There was an intense satisfaction with each one I hit, but also an intense sense of futility as another reared its ugly plastic head.

Little did I know that it was preparing me for parenting during the busy teen years.

All is Calm on the Surface

“So, how are the kids?” another mom asks. “Everyone around for the summer?”

“Sort of. One off on a trip, next one still waiting to hear on plans for next year, and then one interviewing for summer jobs. They don’t really need me. Yours?”


Mole #1

I call the child that is interviewing for summer jobs, asking him too many (which can be as few as one) questions for his liking: Did you follow up on the applications you put out? Did you call the community center? Did you call your supervisor from last summer? 

“I’ve got it, Mom.”


Mole #2

Child #3 returns from a trip and has 36 hours to turn around and leave again for the rest of the summer. Not a problem—we got this.

Until we don’t.

Text from overseas: Retainer broken. Need it before I leave again. Can you make an appointment?

Sure, even if it means traveling to the other side of town in the middle of the workday.

Groveling, moving things around, and turning myself into a contortionist, I heroically get the retainer situation fixed. (I also heroically leave my wallet on the other side of town…)


Mole #3

“Great news. I got two job offers.”

“Honey, that’s great. Which one are you going to take?”

“The one at the pizza place. Which means I will need the car for deliveries, too.”

Oh, the car that was supposed to go to Kid #1 this summer. Yeah. That car.

“Not a problem. He may be able to use public transportation.”


Mole #4

Text from Child #1: Hey. No problem on the car. Bus fine—actually easier.

YES! Mole successfully whack—

Three moving dots…

You know I will need a car for the fall.

I try my best to whack it but then another one (this time from the husband) pops up before this one goes down. Expletive.

Mole #5

Husband text: Did you remember that the roofers are coming at 4 today?

Roof is outside last I checked. Do I need to be there?


Yes, roof is outside, or yes I need to be there?

Yes to both.

I am on the other side of town when I get this text.

I call my neighbor to let the roofer in. (I still don’t get it.)


All. Day. Long.

I wonder if my money would have been better spent on Zoltar, the fortune-telling machine at those carnivals…

Never mind. Would I have wanted to know?

Stephanie Schaeffer Silverman is publisher of Your Teen Magazine.

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