I was about a week old in this photo. Mom was 20.
Mothers and daughters always seem to have complicated relationships, so I think I’m lucky that Mom and I have pretty much always been friends. Sure, like any other teenager I was rotten and self-absorbed and probably thought my parents were set on earth to ruin my fun, but we got through that phase.
We redefined our relationship after my first marriage ended, but that’s another story.
Shortly after that I left Canada and started to appreciate my family from a distance. It’s really easy to enjoy family when you only see them once a year. The old saying is true, “How can you miss me if I don’t go away.” I outgrew much of the selfishness of my 20’s far from home. I always felt grateful that my parents supported and encouraged my independent and free-spirited nature. When my next relationship ended, Mom flew down and spent two weeks on the dive boat with me to make sure I was ok. I held her hand while we swam with wild dolphins, and we did Jell-O shots together in crew’s quarters. When I decided to take a leave from the boat and backpack around Europe for 5 months, Mom flew over and traveled with me for a few weeks. We caught up with friends and relatives in the UK, and then because I was complaining about the cold, she booked us a week of timeshare in the Canary Islands where we played tennis, and hung out at the beach watching windsurfers.
Now that I have a daughter of my own, I find myself apologizing to my Mom for being so wild.
When I first held my critter, I thought of Mom holding me, and the look on her face in the photo above.
In an instant, my imagination had my child growing into a person like me, leaving home at a young age and doing crazy, dangerous things. I suddenly felt huge remorse, not for following my dreams of course, but for the anxiety I surely caused my Mom during all those years before we had access to satphones, and she had to just wait for me to check in after a hurricane. I don’t know if I’ll be able to be as supportive. Hell, my mom even tried skydiving to see for herself why I liked it so much.
Whenever I look at this photo, I think of a conversation I had with Mom a few years ago. Vivi was tiny and Mom was watching us play together. She said, “She’s your best friend in the world right now, isn’t she?” I said yes and then it hit me. I asked Mom, “That’s how you felt about me, when I was this age, right?” She nodded, and a current passed through us, reminding us of the strength of the bond we share.