A Frayed Knot

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knot3The Durranis are serial road trippers (as most of you probably already know) and as we plot, prepare and pack, everyone has the same response, “How can you be in the car that much? What do you do that whole time? Don’t you want to kill each other?”

Our longest trip (of three) this summer included just over 3,500 miles and 64.5 hours of driving time. That doesn’t include all of the family time spent outside of the car those 10 days. That’s just the amount of time we were all four sitting within feet of each other cruising across the country. I will admit, that’s a lot of togetherness and I’ll be honest, it’s not always fun…or pretty, but as a family, we need it. It’s our own form of therapy.

I’m not sure how life gets at your house, but things tend to get hectic here, even in the summer. We have activities, adventures, work schedules, sitters, responsibilities, messes, meals on the go, etc. Our best intentions of staying family focused, with daily meals together, and evenings spent working though our “chat pack” and playing games as a family just doesn’t happen every day. And little by little, it doesn’t happen every other day, or even every week. We become a frayed knot. Our family bond begins to unravel and become a bit unruly. Everyone has their own agendas and everyone is getting on each other’s nerves. And as I always say…please tell me I’m not alone here!

And while others may choose to take time away from each other. Give everyone their space. We do the opposite. We load everyone up into our Explorer and set our sights on new scenery.

knot1Prior to the trip we begin to talk about where we can go…what we can see…what adventures lie ahead. Everyone has their opinions and everyone wants to be heard, even if that means screaming over everyone else!

Life is crazy during the packing phase, where everyone is best to just get out of my way…I have it down to a science, so don’t mess with my methods!

We are usually all screaming at each other by the time we get into the car. Sam is continually rattling off things that he wants to make sure I didn’t forget. I’m annoyed because if he wanted to make sure they were packed, he should have packed himself. The boys are fighting over who is bringing what toys/games/book and fighting me on going to the bathroom one. last. time. And invariably, we are leaving at least an hour behind our original estimation. And don’t even get me started on both of our last minute email checks or conference calls.

It’s hard to let go.
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We then get into the car and if we are lucky we don’t have to turn back for something…a forgotten bear, goggles, or wallet…yes, we have had to turn around for a wallet.

I then instruct (or scream at) everyone not to talk to me for at least 30 miles. I need quiet…we all need quiet. I’m annoyed and am wondering why the heck we do this to ourselves! Won’t I learn?

Within an hour the child who refused to go to the bathroom, now needs to go…never fails. But we are now 60 miles from home and we are starting to relax, so there isn’t “too” much complaining about the stop.

Back in the car, Sam is searching potential hotel locations (we never book ahead), the boys are listening to books on tape, I’m driving (I have control issues, I do all of the driving) and enjoying the quiet and looking forward to our new adventure. And little by little, the craziness of daily life slips away and we all fall into rhythm again and our knot begins to repair itself.

knot2We still have bumps and scrapes along the way. It always makes for good writing material for our annual holiday letter that chronicles our mishaps of the year and makes for great cocktail party stories. But the same result remains as we pull into the driveway with four flat bums. It’s always great to be home…to sleep in our own beds…to have new stories to tell…and bonded together as we start afresh with goals of staying family focused, with daily (or at least four times a week) dinners together, with time spent talking and playing together.

Therapy indeed.

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