This is a guest post written in June 2012 for

As parents we like to think we’re in charge. We make rules, plan dinner, enforce bedtimes, and create a structure for our families that will insure maximum health and happiness. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, are we really in control? In reality… aren’t many of our “rules” mere suggestions that we hope to God our kids will oblige?

How many times have you crossed your fingers and silently prayed that your child would sleep through the night – or refrain from throwing sharp objects at your head in the grocery store line – or take a bottle from the sitter so you can catch a movie with hubs? Let’s face it, we’re at their mercy.

Maybe this will change as my 2 year-old transitions from “baby” to “child”, and develops the ability to control her impulses and make reasonable decisions. But so far, I attribute any success in getting her to follow our rules …to dumb luck, synchronicity or momentary goodwill. She’s opinionated and headstrong, traits she most certainly acquired from her fiery parents.  End result? She has her ideas, we have ours.  Learning how and when to surrender, that’s been the hardest and most unexpected lesson of parenthood. Learning to let go of how things are supposed to be: house tidy, kids crust-free and well-behaved, eating vegetables and proper dinner at designated meal times. Does this scenario exist? Sigh.

Becoming a parent has been a huge lesson in non-attachment, in letting go. So what if she eats Cheerios and yogurt for dinner every night this week. So what if we have to watch the same episode of Little Einsteins so many times that I quite literally, want to poke my eyes and ears out. Is it worth the battle to get my way? Sometimes, yeah…but sometimes sanity and a peaceful family is the thing to fight for instead. Not fight for…accept.

Our 72 year-old daycare provider said to me yesterday, as I fought to remove one of her toys from Aspen’s hands on the way out the door:

It’s ok…take it home. Make her happy.”

Another sigh. Thank you sage Grandmother, who has raised more kids than I’ve spent in years on this planet. Chill, go with the flow…make her happy.

Cheerios, Einsteins and stolen toys will not make her a bad child.  But repeatedly fighting for things that I just don’t have control over (yet), might end up making me a bad person. So I’m learning to stop, to let-go, to pick my battles. Wish me luck.

Autumn Moss Penaloza lives in Santa Monica with her Colombian surfer hubby, their babygirl Aspen, and cat Tiki. She loves being West Coast Mom for Totsy and feeling the hardwood floor of a yoga studio under her feet. Also dancing, cooking, and generally all things celebratory, fun and awesome. Follow Autumn on Twitter @AutumnPenaloza and check out her trappings of life well-lived on

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