I’ve spilled a lot of electrons lately writing about disconnection and connection, stress and their importance to a healthy lifestyle. I even told a little story about how being completely disconnected from the internet for a few days brought my little family closer together.
Well, it’s my lovely bride’s birthday this weekend, and her twin sister lives an hour away in the unholy hellscape we call Toronto. Being twins they (obviously) share their birthday, so outside of exceptional circumstances, they do their birthday celebrations together.
This year, for reasons and because, my sister in law wanted my wife to come into the city to hang out for the day, before bringing her back for the holiday weekend. For those of you who missed it, we’re Canadian, it’s our Thanksgiving weekend up here, and SIL is coming up for the birthday/holiday weekend. Unfortunately, Mrs. Andrew having to go in to pick her up means Toronto traffic, but not normal Toronto traffic, holiday long weekend Toronto holiday traffic.
What does that mean? Well, once upon a time there was this guy who was pretty good at playing hockey (maybe you’ve heard of him, his name is Wayne Gretzky). He grew up in Brantford, won a few championships in Edmonton and got traded to Los Angeles. Now, being from Brantford, he was familiar with Toronto traffic, the cities are maybe an hour apart. Anyway, somewhere along the line he opined that the traffic in Toronto is worse than the traffic in LA. From personal experience, I think he’s right.
So, take one of the worst drives in North America, and add a long weekend to it and you get a witches brew of driver stupidity and commuting hell.
Cool story, Bra. Is there a point in it anywhere?
Well, when my wife and I were talking about minimizing her driving pain, the subject of least worst times to drive versus rush hour came up, along with how long it would take the commuters in our neighbourhood to make their daily commutes. And with that, how much of their children’s lives they were missing sitting in traffic. And along with that the fact that there is no amount of money that a company could offer me to take a job in Mississauga/Toronto.
- the practical considerations, to do this would mean buying a new car, paying more for insurance, fuel costs, maintenance, tires, etc.
- the physical toll of sitting in traffic 90 – 120 minutes a day, each way.
- the 3 – 4 hour per day, lost to sitting in traffic, that could be spent in some actual productive way
We’re talking about connection.
If you’re doing this, what is your relationship with your kids? Hell, do you even have a relationship with your kids? And what about your spouse? Being married is hard enough when you’re around to do it, how hard would it be if you’re never there? In short, where is your time to connect?
I understand that people are wired differently. I understand they have different priorities. I also understand you don’t always have a choice. I’ve actually done that commute (for about 2 years, cumulatively) when work circumstances forced me to do it.
Thing is, part of that time was as a relatively new father and I’ve written about how, at the time, I wasn’t particularly good at it. Funny enough, I never really connected these two things until this very moment. Anyway, as I wrote in mad dad, glad dad:
When I began this practice, I was impatient, demanding, snappish and short. With toddlers. I love my boys with all my heart, but I just didn’t know how to be a good daddy to them. I couldn’t ask my wife for help, because we couldn’t talk to each other without fighting. Like I said, fast track to divorce.
Lousy father, lousy husband.
At that time, the context I was writing in was about regular hard exercise (in my case Bikram yoga 3 – 4 times per week) as a method for destressing, and how relieving my stress allowed me to become the husband and father my family deserved. Now, looking back, I see an even greater context; getting a job locally gave me more time for my family, and having more time for my family playing a major role, too.
Life is a funny thing, I set out with a bad joke about my kids driving me nuts. To get there, I started with a story about driving, and never really got to the bad joke. I’ll save that for another day. For today, I’ll say again, man is a social animal. We are wired to connect, and modern society is increasingly disconnecting us. If life forces you to disconnect, fight back. Find a way to reconnect. There’s nothing more valuable than the people closest to you.