Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mother/Daughter Trip: Banff/Lake Louise... the good stuff


It's been three days since our fifth annual mother/daughter trip. I've had time to digest, reflect and calm down so, as promised, I'd like to report on some of the good exchanges I shared with my mom over the last six days lest you all think I'm a total Bitter Betty because of my last blog post:
1. I got to spend six full days in the most beautiful place I've ever been, all expenses paid. Can't shake a stick at that. In fact, many of the locales I've been lucky enough to visit in my life were made possible because my mom took me there. Without her, I never would have taken a covered wagon horseback trek through the Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, or gone dog sledding and snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park. I never would have skied at Killington, Vermont, or Vail, Colorado. I never would have ridden a bicycle around the entire island of Bora Bora or taken a Jeep excursion through the rain forests of Tahiti. I never would have attended the Kentucky Derby or seen half the Broadway shows I've seen in New York (and there are many!). I never would have seen tennis played at Wimbledon in London (twice) or taken a 24-hour flight to Sydney, Australia, to cheer at a rugby match and watch the surfers on Bondi Beach. I do not take these experiences for granted, I assure you. And I thank her for the blessing of every one.

2. On the plane ride over, mom and I had a great conversation where she asked me about myself (this doesn't happen often) and listened when I replied (which also doesn't happen often). Silly how simple it was to make me feel loved... just to be heard. To the man sitting next to us on the plane, it probably seemed like just another conversation between family members. But to me, it was a great step forward.

3. Rather than letting me endure seven sleepless nights with her (snoring), she offered to pay for me to have my own room, an expense she did not need to incur. She could have just said, "suck it up, chick." But she didn't. 

4. We agreed on our last day in Banff to not go anywhere and instead to sit by the pool in the cool breeze with the sun shining and the mountains surrounding us. It was--by all accounts--idyllic. We shared funny passages from the books we were reading and laughed until tears streamed down our faces like I have only ever done with my sorority sisters and best friends. (this, I don't think, has ever happened before)

5. This same day by the pool, I was able to open up to her about something she had done the day before (which was not included in my previous post) that had really irked me, and she listened... then laughed. It was great to know that she--like me--is able to laugh at herself and acknowledge the ridiculousness of her neurosis--much of which, unfortunately, I am starting to realize is hereditary.

6. On the way to Lake Louise, we stopped at Johnston Canyon to hike. It as a rough morning, to say the least. She called me an a**hole at one point, let's just leave it at that. Perhaps I was being one, or perhaps she was. Either way, we were able to calm ourselves down in the car. Once we started the hike, I think the majesty of what we were seeing was enough to put our earlier argument into perspective and both our grudges fell away like the fall leaves. Who really cares how to read a map? We GOT HERE and the stillness of the forest and the sound of our own breath as we hiked uphill was nature's Prozac. Just look at these waterfalls and tide pools with the most exquisite colors: 

7. One evening over a cocktail in Chateau Lake Louise, she asked me to help her improve. She said, "Tell me the things that really bother you about me, and I'll make a goal to work on a few each year. Make a list." I made a face instead, to which she said, "How many things are there?" I tell her three off the bat, and though I could keep going, I stop because I am proud of her for even asking the question. I really feel like she is dedicated to us getting better at being "us." It took five years of trips, but we're breaking through.

8. And on the 7th day, it rained. Not in Canada, but in New York. Nonstop. Which meant that the U.S. Open came to a standstill. No matches were being played and so there was no scheduling of our activities around the tennis. I told her it was God's way of telling her to get out of the damned hotel room and go exploring on the mountain with her daughter. She reluctantly agreed and because of this, we were able to see this together:

9. Our last activity on our last day at Lake Louise was a canoe ride across the lake. I laugh now at the symbolism in that ride--each of us paddling in different directions, with different strength and speed, each thinking we are right and the other is wrong. . .getting nowhere.
Finally, she agrees to let me paddle out, and she will paddle back. And that's kind of how it went the whole trip. We have to remember this simple ride on next year's trip. Sometimes she will have to depend on me and sometimes I will have to depend on her. Life is so much simpler when we both let go of our egos and our stubborn independence and remember that.

We'll be OK. And if not, you'll all have more fodder to read about next year. . .or when I get my book published, whichever comes first.


  1. This is so great. Pics are gorgeous! I am jealous of not only the beautiful place --but so envious and impressed with your relationship. I wish I could do this; you are doing a fabulous job telling your story.

  2. My favorite post yet - Thanks for sharing

  3. It is amazing how a lovely natural setting can ease the soul and make communication easier. I think it is fantastic that you are taking these trips together to work on your relationship. That is an amazing and special thing, and I wish you nothing but the best in future journeys. Later on, you'll be able to look back on all these trips and have such good memories and know that you really worked with each other!

  4. I just read your last couple of posts and really enjoyed them! My mother and I struggled to have a good relationship for years and I think we are finally at a point where *most of the time* we can enjoy each other and appreciate our differences. That isn't always the case, but it sounds like you and your mom still have a chance, too!

  5. Thanks, Sarah Kate. We are certainly getting to the place I always hoped we'd someday be. Hope you and your mom get there too!