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Lessons of flexible parenting

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It's raining, it's pouring, and my little guy is in the back seat snoring. We were out running errands before nap time, and of course, less than a mile away from our house, his eyes, already droopy, collapsed shut.

Parents out there know the conundrum I'm facing: waking him now will spoil his regular nap for the day, but staying in the car means...I'm stuck in the car. Oy! indeed, Chicago.

If parenthood has taught me anything, it has taught me the importance of being flexible. I am a planner by nature, and normally I feel most comfortable when I have a sense of control over the situations I face.

Before Colin was born, I already knew I had what it takes to be a good (if not cliche) Jewish mom. I was a natural worrier, and to combat this tendency, I read (and continue to read) about a zillion pregnancy and parenting resources.

Still, when he was born, the worry would crop up: is he eating enough? Is he dressed warm enough? Am I doing everything right? I wanted to make sure I was in a constant state of preparedness (is that even a word?) so I could be sure all of his needs were met.

And yet, all the education in the world, all the books and blogs cannot teach you everything, and nothing can prepare you for the havoc a baby can wreak on your life.

As Colin gets older, and I get better at dealing with the challenges that come with parenthood, I think back on the stress that came with my earliest days of parenthood. The days when, utterly sleep deprived, I would face a stumbling point and think, "how will I make it through the day?!"

Today I had a lot of things on my to-do list for my two-hour window while Colin naps (at home in his crib – clearly not happening today). I needed to start laundry and packing for our trip to visit my in-laws, to straighten up around the house, to catch up on writing several blog posts, to let the puppy out in the front yard...the list goes on and on.

Instead, I'm in the car (aka baby jail) drafting blog posts on my iPhone, catching up on email and trying to enjoy some unplanned R and R in the car. Of course, all of the aforementioned tasks will get done at some point, but for now, I'm just doing my best with what I have.

Call it what you will – being flexible, rolling with the punches, making lemonade. Sometimes life doesn't go quite as planned, and as I have learned in the past 11 months, that is okay.

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