Tales From the Trenches

Big A’bentures

by Brenda Maas

We’re going on a big a’benture!”

From the time our oldest son was just a toddler, especially as I slept-walked through the “Two Under Two” years, we tried to go on a big adventure at least once a week. I worked four days per week and my day off, Wednesday, was reserved for this privilege.

I also had a partner in crime—Renee’—who had a daughter and set of twins. At the time, her daughter had just turned two, my oldest was not yet two and we had three infants between the two of us—that was five children ages two and under.

One of our first “big a’bentures” (so named by my still-learning–to-speak toddler) was storytime at the library. It was mid-winter in northern Minnesota and a nearby parking spot was as scarce as flip-flops. I was 10 (or, maybe it was 15) minutes late. Renee’ was 30. This prompted the implementation of the “10-Minute Rule.”

Stated simply, as a parent, you are allowed a 10-minute no-explanations-needed “grace” period per child. Therefore, neither one of us was late. Storytime, however, carried on without us.

So each Wednesday we went—we had a standing “big ab’enture” date. Sometimes it was just a trip to the mall for indoor kiddie rides, sometimes it was something more daring, like a trip to the local aquarium. Regardless, barring illness, we got out of our houses with strollers, sippy cups, diapers, bottles and nursing pads—the entire entourage—for a minor change of scenery. We arrived home tired but happy almost every time.

Shortly before we moved away from that city, we took a memorable trip up the shore of Lake Superior. While the kids tossed rock after rock after rock into the lake, Renee’ lamented about our mommy-friendship (we met via our babies). How was she going to get motivated without me there to meet every Wednesday? That was often the only day of the week when she took all three kids out together because it was so much work, she said. Surprised, I confessed that I was motivated by her all along. After all, if she could get out with three kids, how could I cop out when I only had two? We had unknowingly pushed and cajoled each other through babyhood.

We shared our laughs, our hugs and our tears but I will never forget those feelings of comradeship and unity. We had a tremendous task, but injecting fun and friendship eased the thorny sides.

Somehow, somewhere along the line, during school years I suppose, my family’s “big a’bentures” dwindled. But, this summer I’ve decided to re-instate our fun runs. Although I don’t have babies or Renee’ any more, our “big a’benture” rules still apply:

It doesn’t really matter where you go, as long as it is away from home.

No whining on big a’bentures—you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

A minor goal is to have more fun with less money.

Potty breaks are not discouraged, but wetting your pants is.

No souvenirs—it’s about the experience, not the stuff.

The 10-Minute-Rule still applies (but now it’s per family, not per child)

See something new, make friends with a stranger or learn something unique so

that you go home a smarter, better and very tired but satisfied person.

So now, while I still find it difficult to get out of the house—packing up for a trip is truly a lot of work—I’m looking forward to our commitment to play a bit more. It’s so worth it.

Brenda Maas has been writing since she covered her high school sports teams for the local paper. She and her husband Brett take plenty of big a'bentures with their three young boys–just taking the whole family to the grocery store, for example.