Vacay.ca is running a series of articles from our writers about Mother’s Day and how travel can enhance relationships. We’d be delighted to hear about your favourite travel experience or photo that shows your appreciation of time spent with Mom or with your kids! Email us!
Story by Nicole Keck
Vacay.ca Family Travel Columnist
Our mother is our first friend, our first teacher, even our first travelling companion, you could say, as they carry us for nine months. Then after we’re born, we continue travelling around on their hip for another two to three years. Afterward, we remain by their side as they cart us around wherever they go until we are old enough to venture out by ourselves. All the while, they are shaping our view of the world, passing on their values, and affecting our future goals.
When I was six, my mother and father decided to pick my younger brother and me up and move across the country to carve out a new life for us all. Only now, as I raise my own children, do I realize the great courage that took, and the enormous undertaking that it must have been. It was a decision fraught with risk, financially and otherwise, and now when I hear their stories and the details I can only imagine some of the stresses they faced. But having been lovingly shielded from that at the time, I look back at that period with a wistful fondness — those were the glory days of my childhood.
Sure, we moved to a small town in Colorado where we knew no one, had to start a new school, and make all new friends. For a young child it was like landing on another planet, and it was hard … but not for long. Because where we landed was also a gorgeous valley surrounded by mountains, something I had never seen, populated by friendly people who spoke more slowly and more kindly than we were used to in Michigan. We explored our new surroundings together and it felt like a big adventure.
We spent our weekends hiking Serpent’s Trail to the top of the Book Cliffs mountain range — my brother and I laughing hysterically every time we passed the huge rock mass that we called “The Boob” (use your imagination). We spent summer nights up on the Grand Mesa, the largest flat-top mountain in the world, lying in the back of my dad’s pick-up truck gazing up at the starriest sky I’d ever seen. I met my first best friend, Jennifer Johnson, who touched my life forever and who I am still in contact with. We tasted elk meat, went to square dances, explored ghost towns, took horseback riding from a real cowgirl. We witnessed yellow aspen trees glowing like fire in the autumn sun and a long list of other mind-opening experiences. All of this was due to the fact that my parents had the nerve to try something new.
It must have been difficult for my mother to leave behind the security of her seven siblings, including her closest sister who had just become pregnant, and her saddened mother, who was not at all in favour of the move. Still, at the age of 25, she packed up her children and her household to move 1,500 miles away in support of my father’s business venture. She made very tough choices in order to support my dad and to help open up the world for her children. I find that heroic.
AN ODE TO MOM FOR MOTHER’S DAY
The business wasn’t at all what had been promised; in fact, nothing was quite as they expected, and a few years later, when my grandfather became ill, we returned to Michigan — but all was not lost. That trek out west left an indelible impression. Our parents’ sense of adventure and willingness to take risks taught us valuable lessons. My mother and father have always encouraged us to do the things important to us. My mom has always been one to think globally; she’s the first person I remember talking about such a concept, and she made sure we knew that the world is a very big place, full of diversity and opportunity. She made me truly believe that I could do anything I chose and I suspect my brother, Ryan, would say the same. Our parents assured us we should never feel reluctant to follow our dreams on their account, even if it meant travelling or moving thousands of miles away — a point that was not lost on my brother who has been in the Navy, transversing the globe, for the past 15 years.
My mom has always said, “I did not help you grow wings only to expect you to fly around my head. You may have come through me, but you don’t belong to me.”
Their example helped me to think bigger, knowing that I had a soft place to fall if my ventures were not what I expected. And believe me, that has happened plenty of times. Twelve years ago my husband and I visited Durango, Colorado, fell in love with that tiny mountain town and decided to move there. We secured jobs, left our well-paying, benefit-carrying positions back at home, rented out our house and packed up all of our belongings. Only after all of this was done and we were literally ready to go did we gain some important insight into the area, crucial enough that it forced us to make the heartbreaking decision not to go. It was a time of tremendous stress, but it made us take stock, re-evaluate our options and choose a whole different direction for our lives, and it was the best thing that ever happened to us.
For all these reasons, risk, adventure and change have never been scary to me. On the contrary, my husband and I both still have a wanderlust spirit. And although we now have children, we still have plans to travel and to find broader horizons. We want them to see for themselves that the world is not small, that reality encompasses so much more than the beautiful, quaint little town that we now call home. Early next year we plan to go to Panama to explore the coastlines, the rainforests, the inactive volcano, and the people. It is important to us to expose our three sons to different cultures, and to have experiences meeting new people and volunteering in other lands — to have a brighter hope for the future of our planet, and do all they can to support that goal. We are seeing for ourselves how incredibly fast children grow up, and realizing that our limited time with them is precious. I guess you could say travel has become our family value too — and we want our three little travelling companions to think big.
MORE MOTHER’S DAY TRAVEL STORIES
Tricia Edgar: What happens when you put down the camera on a family vacation