Happy Mother’s Day.
A couple of years ago, I took a work trip that brought me back to the west coast. I decided it would be a good time to catch up with my mom doing one of the things I absolutely love, visiting a national park. She met me at our car rental, we fueled up and headed off to Joshua Tree. It was the middle of July so triple-digit temperatures were expected. The nights were not much cooler. To me, I booked a unique “off the grid” rental and did not consider my mom’s thoughts on showering outside. We spent the car ride catching up. Me complaining about the things I’m not satisfied with, while simultaneously bragging about the things I am proud to be part of. She caught me up on the happenings at home. Lots of deep conversation coupled with hilarious anecdotes and small talk, “so how’s the weather been?” And of course her Del Taco experience. Simply put, it was nice.
After arriving, very late, to our rental we unloaded the car and both took wonder at the sparkling night sky. Once we got the AC working and mom discovered the shower was outside (oops) we sat in the living room talking. I was beyond tired barely coherent but I do remember her neat trick about how to catch pesky bugs inside (a lamp and a bowl of water – it worked). I can’t and never will forget one of the best things of all, her obsession with trying to capture on video the bats flying around outside. As I tirelessly mumbled away about my new job, she sat in a chair at the big picture window tablet in hand bifocals positioned just right, snapping away. I fell asleep to the sound of her on the job wildlife photography training and woke the next morning to her excitement that somewhere in the 200 plus photos and videos of the small fruit and bug-eating bats she “got one”.
I kid you not, I sat through her rifling through an endless digital archive of reflections of her self off the big picture window, “Oh I figured out, turn the light off, yeah.” Then more photos of the flash off the big picture window, “oh yeah forget to turn that off.” Then finally photo 200 whatever, “here watch this. I’m going to go get ready.”
A 5-minute video until I finally saw a light-colored flint across the screen and moms voice say, “GOTCHA!”
“Ohhh that’s what you took 200 plus photos for!” I said.
It makes me laugh, it made my sister laugh as she drove my mom home after the trip and was subjected to the same show and tell presentation. I am sure it made my bother think, “where the hell were you staying?”
While I love our national parks and love spending time with my mom, what I didn’t at all expect to take from this trip, was to miss her. It was a truly strange feeling for me and not because my heart is made of ice. I missed her for the first time in a very long time because I knew things I had going for me 3000 miles away were going to keep me away for a long time. I actually still don’t know exactly why. It may be easy for some to reckon with but for me it’s different. My mom raised her children to feel secure in their decisions to never let place hold them back, to never let anything or anyone, especially ourselves hold us back from the goals we’ve set. She has always and always will be our support system. It what moms do, it’s what parents do. It’s what people that work hard to see something through do.
I don’t think, actually I know, I did not fully appreciate this until I only had a few stifling hot days and bat photo nights with her in the desert.
Today as I still work on figuring myself out. Figuring out what keeps me going, what gets me down, and how I will reach my new goals, I can pick up the phone and get to know my mom a little better. I can get to know the person that was also a kid dreaming of other places in the world. An artistic person with so much love to give. I can listen to the voice that once told me I could move mountains and chuckle at the amateur bat photographer voice that says, “GOTCHA!”
The importance of listening to Her voice has taken me farther than I could have imagined. Over this last year, built up over a lifetime of wins and losses, I’ve learned from the first voice I heard in my life the importance of listening to her. Of trusting that voice.
Thanks for being a mom. Thank you for being my mom!