Try to keep adapting

Abhishek Lahoti
3 min readApr 13, 2023

As a new parent, the thought of a flight with your newborn is daunting. We had this experience over Easter when we took our daughter to Copenhagen to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday. As with any new parents, we planned meticulously: bottles, diapers, routes, nap times, security queues, etc. In our quiet confidence, we failed to notice was that our daughter was…how should I put this delicately, a bit backed up. So, as the other passengers patiently experienced that first thrust of speed before takeoff, our daughter treated the entire plane with some noisy but long overdue bowel motions.

There’s not much to do in this experience except wait till the seatbelt sign goes off. As any parent knows, those tardy rumbles could mean a lot of things. As it was my wife’s birthday, I took charge and marched my coo-ing daughter to the tiny plane toilet for a change. I shall spare you the details, but about twenty minutes later I emerged shell-shocked, holding a freshly clothed baby, a fistful of soiled laundry bound for a bin in CPH airport, and an apologetic face for the passenger waiting to use the facilities after us.

Most parenting is learning how futile the best laid plans are. We can research and purchase the best formula, toy, or gadget only to find our infant is oddly opinionated for someone so small. The best a parent can do is learn to adapt and meet the moment. It’s easy to mutter a few annoyed words, but whatever problem you were solving still needs to be solved.

This seems to happen a lot in life. You plan something punctiliously, only for life to behave like an infant and simply send you back to the drawing board. My biggest example would definitely be deciding not to be a doctor in my early 20s, something I’d endeavoured to do since I had started school. What seemed like an insurmountable problem at the time (“what do I do with my life?”) turned out to be a life-defining test. In meeting a daunting and uncertain future with the right attitude and vigor, I ended up on a strange but fulfilling path to where I am today.

What usually happens after a big challenge is that our ability to adapt is heightened. We’re exhausted, yes, but highly aware. We know that another issue could be around the corner, and we’re less settled into the new changes the previous one caused. These regular challenges allow us to hone our problem-solving mentality, but without this practise, every subsequent trial can feel herculean.

I’ve found that a child has forced me to learn to adapt to change. I’m unable to plan how to raise my daughter perfectly, because though she’s a small human, she has her own proclivities that she seldom shares in advance. I’ve realised this is great practise, though cannot recommend to everyone suffering from stagnation to go and have a child. That said, regular uncomfortable experiences are great practise for the current environment. With a constant barrage of punishing news (layoffs, inflation, downturns, etc.), our skills in planning for the future need to be matched by our skills at adaptation.

Keeping all these challenges in mind as benefits and not problems is the real skill. Attempting to view them as puzzles meant to be solved and not speed bumps on our travels can shed light on the changes we need to make to be better. Finding comfort in practising regular discomfort helps grow the reflex you’ll need the next time your baby has an explosion on a flight, metaphorically speaking.

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By the end of our flight, my daughter was feeling fine. She really needed some release and perhaps a loud jet engine was the right laxative. Or so we thought, as she proceeded to repeat her bodily functions on landing (and when we returned to London). Luckily, our first rodeo made it so we were better prepared…and now have some great embarrassing stories for her future.

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Abhishek Lahoti

Head of Platform @ Highland Europe, advisor of startups, new father, and perpetual confused person trying to make sense of life