After the idea was planted in my mind almost four months ago, during our trip to the USA and Canada, I’ve decided that I will write a little piece on travelling and my wonderful mum. Like my last personal piece on travelling as a couple, I was pretty hesitant to write this one for many reasons; the most prominent being that I really don’t enjoy sharing anything personal at all. Despite this, I found the last piece to be extremely therapeutic and found that I actually sort of enjoy writing about personal things as much as I do informative pieces, so I’m interested to see if I have the same experience with this one.
Before March of this year, I hadn’t been on a family trip with my mum, or my brother for that matter, for almost nine years. The last one we went on was a pretty typical British family holiday to Icmeler, Turkey where most days were spent at the pool, but one was spent on a day trip to Rhodes, another to Ephesus and another to Bodrum. I think these little day trips, and all the others I took on our other family holidays when I was younger, were what planted the travel bug in me and made me curious enough to go and explore the world. They showed me from a very young age that even if you base yourself in one place to investigate the surrounding sights and to make a point of deciding and then doing what will heighten your experience. They also showed me that holidays where a time where you could really relax and escape from your version of the real world, and not have to answer to anything while you’re away – and I think this, combined with the fact that my mum has forever told me that the world is my oyster, really spurred me on to use travel as an escapism from the stresses of life at home (this is entirely an aimed dig at university).
Before jumping to the now, I feel I should contextualise my relationship with my mum in the interim years of our decade old trip and our one just past. Throughout my entire teenage years, right up until the age of twenty, to say we had a strained relationship would be a bit of an understatement. I think two strong minded women in the same household will always inevitably lead to conflict of interests, especially when they’re so similar in terms of personality, and my mum and I were definitely no exception. I think as well as this, for her it was difficult to get her head around me becoming an adult after her being the only one in the house for so many years. My moving away to university changed our relationship dramatically; and it gave us the space we both needed from each other. It made me appreciate everything I loved and missed about her, and vice versa, and it has been so wonderful over the last two years getting to know her not only as a mum, but as my best friend.
With all that being said, when I set off to Asia last year with my boyfriend, my mum was one of the only people that I told that didn’t ask questions that would make me think twice about it. She was boundlessly encouraging, excited for me and I think really quite proud that I was nineteen and entirely self-funding a two month trip across a continent I had never been to. I know she had concerns about my safety, of course, but she never put them on a way that would make me scared, only to always be aware. She messaged me every single day, shared every one of my blog posts and liked each photo I took. Although I understand things like that might seem trivial, for me growing up I would never had imagined that I would have been in a financial situation that would have enabled me to go on such a trip, and I’m not sure she would have either.
On that note, I will now bring into play the fact that my mum was born in, and grew up in for the first twelve years of her life, the United States. Since my brother and I were born, she hadn’t been home, seen any of the places or people she grew up in or with, until March of this year. Last November, after Paul informed me he had booked a trip to Berlin with his friends, I decided to look up flight prices to New York for around the same time (I’m very mature, I know). The thing is that when I have an idea that I like in my head, I can’t wait to make it a reality. I have no patience when it comes to planning trips, so I went on a binge of booking flights, emailing friends and family looking for places to stay and when I looked at my email inbox an hour later only then did it sink in that I had just blown my entire student loan for the month on two return flights to New York City. For sixteen days. Did I mention that I hadn’t even asked my mum yet? Oh well. So, that afternoon while emails of “yes you can stay” and “are you insane?” started to arrive, I phoned my mum from my university dorm and told her that she better get a new passport because we were going to New York, just us two, in the spring. The excitement was then added to on Christmas Day when my brother told her that he had booked flights out for the second week, and that we were getting to go visit our family in Canada for a few days.
When we actually got to go away, I was able to see a side of my mum that I have never seen before in my life. I got to meet the friends she grew up with, to stay in their homes, meet their parents and have their memories growing up shared with me. I got to know her likes and dislikes about people and the world, how she became and why she remained friends with the people I had heard stories of my entire life, but hadnever before had thought to ask anymore about than she was willing to tell. I got to hear her telling stories about her mum and dad, who I never met and we very rarely talk about, when driving past a diner or a subway station or an old house or workplace. I was able to see New York City through her eyes, in a sentimental way. I got to spend more time with her than I have in years and years and to learn that she is hilarious, she is laid back and she is so loving – not only to her family but to all of the people in her life. I got to see her with no stress on her shoulders, for I think the first time in my entire life. I see a lot of myself in my mum and finally seen that underneath our highly strung exteriors we are two of a kind. I feel that the trip really made me want to be her friend, more comfortable in a way with her and that it really brought us closer together than we ever have been before. Hearing all of her stories and experiences helped me understand so much about the incredibly strong, selfless and intelligent person she has become and I have the absolute privilege of calling my parent. Learning all of her traits made me admire her so much as a person, and able see her as one and not just as ‘mum’.
Since our trip in March we have done day trips to the Highlands, the coast, shopping, and even another unexpected trip to Canada together. We have spent so much more time together than we ever have before, and I know it’s because our trip together helped us get to know each other better and after doing so, we actually realised that we sort of liked one another’s company. After a year and a half of living away from home I have never felt more happy to be back home under the same roof as such a wonderful human being as her. Our similarities now make me laugh instead of rolling my eyes, the sacrifices she has made for my brother and I over the years I can now truly appreciate and the confidence she has instilled in me I will never ever be able to thank her for enough.
Thanks for always being my biggest cheerleader, Denise – I love you!