Your Only Goal Is to Arrive
To survive quarantine, you need to change your metrics
When our son was a year old, my pregnant wife and I endured a grueling day of travel from northern Michigan to Los Angeles, where we lived at the time. A canceled flight and a missed connection led to five hours in the Detroit airport with a squirmy child whose undiagnosed ear infection had kept any of us from sleeping the night prior.
The fun was just beginning when our flight home finally took off. As changes in cabin pressure inflicted cochlear agony, my son didn’t just cry — he let loose desperate, primal screams that could not be extinguished with hugs, Juicy Juice, or M&M’s. His anguish was so extreme that fellow passengers zoomed right past anger and straight to incredulous pity. Somewhere over Wyoming, the kind woman next to us held the demon boy and his attention by pointing at clouds out the window. Finally, after a 16-hour travel day, we landed at LAX and sheepishly mumbled our apologies and thanks to those around us.
The next morning, I shared my hellish tale with my colleague Jen, whose older children had taught her parenting strategies I hadn’t yet learned. I also apologized for not working on the project I was supposed to review over the weekend.
“Don’t worry about it,” Jen said. “When you travel with babies, your only goal is to arrive.”
I asked her to elaborate. “Well, traveling with kids is a whole different thing than traveling by yourself,” she said. “Forget about napping, reading a book, or checking email. Your only job is to keep the baby safe and as comfortable and quiet as possible. If you show up with your children alive, you’ve succeeded.”
I kept this simple yet profound concept in mind during 100% of our subsequent trips with our young children. It didn’t make those flights fun per se, but the mantra helped to keep my priorities in line.
Last week, as I read an article encouraging people to use the coronavirus quarantine to achieve something “extraordinary” with their lives, Jen’s advice came screaming back to mind. Today’s flight, dear friends, is very much delayed: not by hours, but months. Travel conditions are—to put it mildly—suboptimal. Each of us should have in mind only one goal: to arrive on the…