I usually don't read any parenting advice blogs. Recently, however, I saw an article that appealed to me. It was called “Always Take The Trip.” In other words, don't worry about the cost and the journey and the hassle of packing (and not forgetting) diapers, sunscreen, stuffed animals and pacifiers. Just go.
The author argues that families need time away from housework, homework and job responsiblities. Like any relationship, family bonds need to be fostered and cared for in order to bloom. According to the author of “Always take the trip,” it's not only the fun times that strengthen the bond. Spending time together outside the comfort zone of our own home and neighborhood is trying. But it's another way we bond, by going through the good and the bad together.
I had almost forgotten about the article. Last Thursday, however, I spontaneously decided the three of us should take the train down to Como for the weekend. In my usual brisk fashion I organized a place to stay, bought train tickets and sent my husband out to buy a picnic and yes, diapers.
Outside the comfort zone
Everything went well. With no schedule and no obligations, we just strolled around the town and enjoyed the italian vibe. We were looking forward to our journey home, which we had upgraded to first class. Right before heading to the station we turned into a gift store and completely forgot the time.
By the time we stepped out onto the street again it was only twenty minutes until our scheduled departure. We missed a turn and it got even later. So we ended up running up the hill in the thirty degree heat to make our train. And make it, we did.
For a moment I was angry at Nico. He's usually the one who's supposed to be in charge of directions. For some reason I also thought he was keeping an eye on the time while I was buying notebooks and paper garlands. But just before I started sputtering a reproach, I remembered the article.
It had definitely been a moment outside the comfort zone. The moment when you think you're going to miss the train and you're going to have to wait and rearrange the whole trip. With a two and a half year old child in the scorching heat. And you have no control over what's going to happen.
Being a team
But wasn't this another moment outside the comfort zone that proves to me what a good team we are?
At the bottom of the hill in front of the station we split up. It only took two words from me and Nico was racing up the steps to retrieve our suitcase. I was dashing up the long way around, pushing the stroller. We met with a few minutes to spare in the main hall. Perfectly in time.
We are usually pretty good at dividing our duties. Nico has an excellent sense of direction, I'm good with planning ahead and thinking of all the contingencies. Only that day I forgot about the time for a moment. For a moment my brain surrendered to being on vacation. Which is actually a very good sign.
So why be mad about a little jog in the Italian afternoon heat? The sprint was totally out of the comfort zone. One of those things you know you will be able to laugh about in the future.
It reminded me of all the difficult circumstances we have braved together. After four years together it may well look like we have never seen the comfort zone from the inside. We met and I moved to Taiwan three months later. Nico came to visit and I got pregnant. We became parents after a very short time of cohabitation. We both got new and challenging jobs within the last two years.
From the outside, our life together looks like one single roller coaster ride. Yet on the inside, we are always team. And while one of us may lapse from time to time, we still make it. Even on the rare occasions when we have to run full out our timing is always perfect.