The Drive over Mountains in the Winter
Today I am visiting my parents’ home. The kids and I made the 6 hour trek together over
At one particularly guardrail-free mountain pass, the sky darkened and we were pelted by icy snow and mama’s knuckles were white. We kept going in and out of little flurries the whole drive.
When the sun was out, the drive took us through some beautiful countryside. Rolling hills, cows nursing calves, old red barns, and country homes that made us all say, “I want THAT one!” (Sufyan and Laila are onto the house hunt). It really was beautiful.
I’m proud that my kids have learned to travel well. It’s a huge relief. As any parent knows, packing for a trip can be a lot of work, but worrying about the meltdowns and pitfalls is equally exhausting. I just don’t worry anymore. I pack as well as I can (I over-pack) and then head out into the unknown.
After the experience last summer where I basically got sick in the middle of our trip and couldn’t drive or function and had to leave my kids with strangers while I puked, I was a bit nervous to take a long road trip alone with the kids again. But I reasoned that I can’t let my fear stop me from traveling. After all, we moved here just to be close enough to my parents to drive for an easy visit.
We are visiting with a twofold purpose. Well, threefold if you count seeing grandparents (which of course I do):
First, to meet our new cousin Emma.
Emma! I’m so glad we got to spend time with this little girl! She’s an amazing little person. What a spark she has. I don’t think I have ever met a baby quite as sure of herself or as happy to do new things. She is bright, like her Mama.
She seems to love her big cousins, too. And it’s mutual. There have been dance on the bed parties, splash in the bath parties, rise and shine giggle-fests and many sweet moments of just being family together.
Laila in particular is reveling in her role as big cousin. She is so sweet to Emma! This morning as Emma crawled over our bed, Laila silently got up and left the room. She returned with a toy she picked for Emma and the 2 proceeded to play together with their airplanes.
Laila has a care-taker streak that I knew about, but hadn’t seen in action with a little person before. It’s great.
Second, to reintroduce myself to a dear friend whom I have held in my heart all these years
This trip was about something else big for me personally, too. Emma’s mom is my cousin and childhood best friend whom I hadn’t seen in nearly 20 years. Growing up, we spent every possible moment together until sometime in late middle school. All my childhood dreams, mischief, thoughts about life and who I was and would be…all of it is connected to her. We had stables of imaginary horses, scads of bad ideas that got us grounded but made us laugh. It was the kind of friendship that is only possible when you grow up with someone.
Then high school hit us…hard. Like I said, we haven’t spoken in 20 years. Isn’t there some saying about how the people who are closest to us are the ones with the most power to hurt us and vice versa? Oh, I remember it now. It goes, “High school sucks.”
There was a time when I thought the mountain of baggage between us was insurmountable. But it turns out there is no solid obstacle between us. All that stands between us is what we aren’t willing to understand about those really difficult years of adolescence, or what we aren’t willing to see with adult eyes. The beauty of having her back in my life is that we can decide what we carry forward now. And whatever we haven’t grown past and forgiven in ourselves, that’s the work. No great unknown. Nothing insurmountable. Lots of love.
For me, all of the crap fell away as soon as I saw her (and the baby in her arms). She has been the friend that I have unconsciously measured so many friendships by. She was always there in my mind, in the way I look at the world and in the way I relate to other women. She and I are long past achieving our goal to grow up and work together as vets or in a zoo, but we have the chance to be moms together now. That’s a zoo of sorts, anyway.
When the visit ended, we said our goodbyes and made promises to see each other soon. It’s hard, because we are separated by such a lot of miles (we each had to travel 6 hours to see each other and we each had a kid or 2 in tow). But the miles weren’t what was keeping us apart all these years so they seem relatively small in terms of obstacles now.
Here’s to a new beginning of an old friendship.
Who am I, and what am I to me?
I am lucky to have several good female friends in my life, though they are all over the world (Amman, England, Ohio, Germany, Palestine, Texas, Pennsylvania–which is in fact another country, right Ki?) and it is with these women I am the least self conscious and the most “me”. With my cousin, I have never been anything but “me”, although the “me” has changed somewhat since we last talked. I kept wondering if what I am now is enough. I haven’t had a moment of subversion or deviancy for years! Am I as interesting as she hoped? It’s making me wonder if what I am doing or not doing right now in my life is enough for me, too.
These are questions that in motherhood are hard for me to answer. Am I living my life for me? Am I allowed to live for me right now when I am so needed by my little ones? On the other hand, if I want them to know how to be themselves I should lead by example. In that light, I feel pretty hemmed in. It’s late. I haven’t danced in the moonlight in a long LONG time. Moonlight has generally meant that I should be asleep because sleep. But how asleep am I?
I haven’t gone skinny dipping in years. I never did burlesque and it’s clearly too late for that. Did you even know I have a massive tattoo on my stomach? And 2 others that also aren’t small? How long since tattoos were even part of my “who I am” equation?
I never became a DJ (stop laughing!). I haven’t designed those shoes. I never painted my walls with art created by that special strange place in my head that turns on when I light candles and listen to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Or The The. Or whoever. When am I ever going to have intrigue again? Maybe never. Is that ok? Is it shopping at J fucking Jill from now on???? Oh god. Get me to the nearest Goodwill. Or not. Am I even interested in vintage finds at Goodwill anymore? WHO THE HELL AM I NOW THAT I AM A MOTHER?
These are questions and issues of timing I can’t quite lay to rest right now. It’s good to question. Do other moms feel like this?
Some pics of our trip:
Hat Shopping at a Vintage store with Laila
We had so much fun trying on old hats. Laila loved it as much as me. She would put one on my head and say, “I like it. Actually, I LOVE it Mama. But it’s not quite the right style. Let’s see…” and put another one on my head or on hers.