Friday, November 12, 2010

Roll With It, Baby

A good news producer always hopes for the best, prepares for the worst, and rolls with the punches.  They're able to change course in the blink of an eye, and the adrenaline rush that accompanies that sudden shift in plans motivates them to succeed. 
They start their day with a solid rundown of the top news stories, allot the appropriate amount of time to each report, and amp up the story-telling with all the bells and whistles that adorn cable news programs these days: fast-moving animations, interactive graphics, electrifying sound effects.  
A blank canvas comes alive... 

The only problem is that it's 11 a.m. and you still have seven hours until airtime. 
One lunatic gunman holes himself up in a school or office building at 4 p.m. and your entire show is out the window. 
At 5:30 the White House announces one of its top advisers is leaving his post and your perfect rundown is obliterated. 
Such is the life of a news producer. 
Such is the life of a new mother. 
You can read every single parenting book out there, have your diaper bag packed and ready to go at a moment's notice.  You can be completely caught up with all the laundry and have nap times down to a science.  
But one poop explosion, one massive meltdown, or one extra feeding is all it takes to throw you off course.
Then you could be Mary Freakin' Poppins and not know how to get back on track.  
The solution? 
Don't allow yourself to get so wrapped up in the perfect plan. 
A good producer is never "married" to the rundown.  They'll play musical chairs with reporters, adjust their commercial breaks, add another soundbite to their lead story. 
They'll toss their entire lineup in the trash and start again from scratch. 
And when news breaks 10 minutes before air they'll completely abandon any semblance of structure and fly by the seat of their pants, tearing up the roadmap that would've guided them through their broadcast.
Flexibility is key in the 24-hour cable news cycle. 
It's also essential in motherhood. 
You never know when that diaper will spring a leak, or when your baby will decide he or she no longer wants to take a bottle. 
You can't predict when your child will launch a war on your wardrobe and projectile vomit on your top, your pants, and in your shoe. 
You have no idea that your baby, who is sleeping through the night this week, will be up every hour next month. 
So moms... read the books, search the new mother forums, swap stories with your girlfriends who have kids.  But don't let anyone dictate your child's nap times, or force you to start solids before you're ready.  Don't fall victim to the idea that your baby will never get into an Ivy League school if you don't start them on a rigid schedule when they're four months old. 
Unless the people dishing out advice are living with you 24/7 and helping to change those nasty diapers at 3 a.m., I suggest you follow your own instincts and don't be afraid to deviate from the course you've mapped out in your head, in your mobile calendar, and in an Excel spreadsheet plastered to your refrigerator door. 
Our children are not robots... despite the fact that it would be much easier for us if they were. 
*DISCLAIMER: I wrote this mostly for myself, as a reminder that it's ok for me to take a break from structured living now and then.  Having worked in news for nine years and having been obsessed with order and to-do lists for 31 years, I will need to refer back to this post frequently.*

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