I believe that as children, we connect with our parents for different reasons, at different times, and through different phases of our lives. If we are lucky enough to have two parents, there are some phases through which we will connect more strongly with one parent, and then with the other through a completely separate period of time in our lives.
I can break my life up into discernible chunks, or eras, of "mom years" or "dad years" pretty easily.
Most of my childhood years were "mom years". My dad worked a lot and he worked hard to support our family, so that my mom could stay home with my brother and I. Sometimes, he worked away from home. These aspects made it difficult to foster a relationship with him in my early years. In junior high school, one week one girl was my best friend, and the next week it was another but through it all, I knew in my heart that my true best friend was always my mom. Truth be told, I even preferred shopping with her as a teenager - she was honest, gentle and firm in all the right ways, and I trusted her.
High school was the first time I really crossed over into "dad years", and it was tough - both in the process, and I think on my mom. An unthinkable thing happened between a close friend of mine and the company my dad was working for at the time. The whole fiasco resulted in the loss of my dad's job (under what I perceived as wildly unfair circumstances), and for me, the loss of a friend amidst an immense void of trust and respect. It tied my dad and I together though, and on top of that, it just felt like I was connecting more with my dad on current and relevant issues at that stage in my life.
Since leaving home, I have swung back and forth a few times, not staying in one direction or another for a significant length of time, at least not as long as I had previously. In the last three or four years, I've grown my relationship with the outdoors and that has allowed me the opportunity to learn a lot more from my dad. While we haven't spent a lot of time together in the outdoors, his experiences, his wisdom and his guidance have been so valuable to me in my outdoor endeavours. There's a lot more that we can talk about and connect via.
Now that my relationship with the outdoors has grown some pretty deep roots, my dynamic with the outdoors has started to become more emotional, and that has opened up another window of opportunity to swing back towards my connection with my mother.
I've been on the road for a little over two weeks, now. I have another month and a half ahead of me, but already I have learned so much about myself - about my needs, my cravings, the things I lack at the most foundational levels, and the things I am most grateful for. Connection is one of the things that hits all of those points for me - I need, crave, occasionally lack, and am so grateful for connections. My mom is the one person that I have managed to remain the most connected with through my trip so far, and it absolutely completes me. And so...
Dear Mother of Mine,
I don't know how I will ever be able to thank you, from the bottom of my heart and soul, for choosing to not only bear me, but to guard and love me as fiercely as you do.
I know that your own relationship with your mother has been a tumultuous one, and at times, nonexistent. In many ways, you have simply been without. It breaks my heart that you lack the experience of maintaining a bond with your mother the way that I have been so lucky to share one with you. I can't imagine what it has been like for you; only that I don't doubt it hasn't been easy. Fortunately, you had a father who taught you compassion, work ethic, and how to learn things the hard way with grace. All of these great qualities, you have passed down to me.
I am learning now, through my own time and my own experiences, how many times you have had to feel the fear, and put on a brave face to push through hard times, through frustration, through confusion, through unknowing, and through utter loss. You have done it all for me, and those adversities have not been lost on me, whether I experienced them with you or not.
I carry you everywhere with me: in my smile, in my beauty marks, in my compassion and kindness towards others, in my attention to and appreciation for the natural world, in my ability to recognize the greatness of little things, in my introversion and desire to rest alone sometimes, and in my heart - plain and simple.
I see you in everything: in blue birds, in tiny polished sea glass, in bumble bees and honey bees, in a doting mother doe, in the gentle sway of aspens, in the smile of a stranger, in the security of feeling "home", and along every road less traveled that I have trammelled in my lifetime.
I can't tell you how much it means to me, to show you the world through my lens, my filter, my eyes, and my travels, after all of the years you have opened up to show it all to me, through you. I want you to think of me when you see something beautiful or feel something magical, the way I do of you. I am so excited to be sharing this trip with you, in as much detail as I am lucky to have been able to.
Perhaps my motivation in doing so is born out of a subconscious compensation, to make up for what you haven't had. Either way, you are the raw love that fuels me, the brilliant light that guides me, and the deep roots that ground me. You have, and always will sustain me. I love you.