Parenting: Flat Tires & Lessons in Flexibility
If I’ve learned one thing about being a parent in the nearly 2.5 years that I’ve been one, it’s the importance of flexibility in the face of the small (and large) curve balls life occasionally throws your way. That flexibility is more important than ever because all of sudden what just happened impacts your child too. Now not only do you need to make lemonade out of lemons, you also need to convince your kid to drink it. This is not something I excel at, but I’m trying to get better. Freaking out (and occasionally cursing), my unfortunate natural tendency during times of small but inconvenient crises, is generally problematic when the situation also involves a toddler. Sure, I’m a good mom when everything is going well but what about when things aren’t going so well? That’s when the rubber really meets the road. In our case today, the rubber meeting the road was quite literally our problem. We were doing great–we were on time, Liam was in a good mood all morning, and we were singing Christmas carols as we pulled out of the driveway. As I pulled out, something sounded and felt terrible and I got out to discover that one of my tires was completely flat. FUDGICLES.
I started to panic a little. I pulled Liam inside the house and called AAA (I know, I know, I should know how to change a flat but why else do you pay for a AAA membership, right?). They came quickly and replaced my flat tire with my spare but with the impending snow coming our way, they recommended I get a new one put on right away. Here’s where I really started to freak out. I was already late for work, I needed to get a new tire ASAP and Liam had no idea what was going on and why weren’t on our way to school. While I was trying to formulate a plan (and check in with my boss and check my email), Liam was running around me, giggling and jumping into my lap. At any other moment this might have seemed cute but right then, I was pretty annoyed and yelled, “STOP IT LIAM!” The poor kid looked crushed and I felt terrible. At that moment, I realized that to him this was just an unexpected morning home with mom – a treat on a weekday – and my anxiety over the time missed at work and figuring out the best way deal with the situation had turned it into a tense one. I took a deep breath, put him in the car to drive to our local dealership, and vowed to be more patient and calm.
The dealer took the car and we hung out in the waiting area. It was dead quiet being a weekday morning so we set up a little picnic with some granola bars I had in my bag and Liam drew on business cards with crayons. They even had a little play area with toy trucks and trains which we played with together. I checked my phone a few times to make sure nothing urgent came in, but for the most part, tried to really be present with Liam and make the best of the situation. Everything ended up working out really well – the tire was able to be patched, Liam and I got to spend some unexpected quality play time together, and I even made it to work by 10:00. All in all, not bad given the circumstances.
Was it a stressful morning? Yep. But it didn’t need to be as stressful as I was making it at the start and it was amazing how much the morning improved when I stopped myself from making a bad morning worse. That kind of parenting flexibility is not a natural thing for me but mornings like this prove just how important it is to work on both for me and for Liam.
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