My parents are always there for me when I need them. So when I was facing a four-day drive from Alberta to Yukon hauling a trailer with no company other than my four-year-old son, my mother volunteered to fly out to Red Deer and make the journey with me.
Her slogan for the trip was “It will either be a bonding experience or it would make a great movie.” My mom with a clever slogan is like a dog with a bone and I think I heard that phrase a few hundred times since she thought of it.
Repeating herself is one of mom’s habits that has evolved throughout my life. Actually, her habits don’t evolve so much as my reaction to her habits does.
For example, when my mom has often instructed me to put the ice cream in the microwave or the popcorn in the fridge. When questioned about it she will always respond, “Oh, you know what I mean.” As a teenager, this was exasperating, as a college graduate it was mildly amusing and as an adult, somehow it’s transformed into being downright endearing.
I used to constantly tell my mother, “you already told me that” when she repeated a story. After a while I gave up, and politely listened to the story again and again, eventually even enjoying the embellishments and exaggerations added over time. Now, if my mom didn’t repeat myself, I would be convinced she’d been taken over by aliens and was, in fact, not my mom at all. This could quite possibly ignite an alien conspiracy theory, or, just as likely, end up with me in a nuthouse. So it’s just as well mom’s habits have never changed.
As you may have discerned, my history with my mother has not always been rosy. Fundamentally, I have always loved and been loved by my parents, but we’ve had our rocky times. We will always have to agree to disagree on some issues. So, when I heard my mom’s slogan for the first time, I shared the sentiment. It could be a lovely road trip where we reconnect and bond without the distractions of the other people in our lives, or it could be material for a darker, more extreme version of the movie “The Guilt Trip” with Seth Rogan and Barbra Streisand, and quite possibly not with a happy ending.
I know you’re waiting in suspense to hear the outcome of this experiment in mother-daughter relations. Is there a suspicious mound in my backyard while my mother hasn’t been heard from in weeks? Did we fight the first day and endure the rest of the trip in excruciating stoney silence? Did we arrive in Whitehorse black and blue after duking it out?
I’m afraid it’s a slightly more boring yet also more meaningful outcome. We talked, we bonded and we didn’t even listen to one of my audio books. I was even able to get several words in edgewise after the first eight hours of driving. (I’m only partially kidding.) Day two brought forth confessions from my mother about how hurt and angry my parents were when we left Ontario for Yukon. On day three mom dipped a toe in the Liard Hot Springs, was awed by Muncho lake and was treated to sightings of moose, bison, caribou and even big horn sheep. By day four she realized we were where we were supposed to be and we were best friends.
For me, this journey I had been incredibly stressed about turned out to be an amazing experience. On day one, after a nine-hour drive with the help and support of my mother, I realized I am capable of much more than I thought I was. On day two I understood more about my parents than I had before. By day three, I looked around at the beauty of the north and the feeling of peace returned and knew I was where I was supposed to be. On day four, I felt closer to my mom than I had in a long time.
Oscar also got the chance to bond with his Gran. They were fast friends. At the hot springs Oscar played tour guide and pulled Gran from one sight to the other, relishing his captive audience. I stayed back and enjoyed watching them explore the trail hand in hand.
I feel like this trip has cemented a bond that will last a very very long time. Yesterday, I called my mom and told her about my difficulties being alone and starting a new job and in a few minutes she had convinced me it was all perfectly normal and would be all right.
So many little things had to come together for this trip to ever happen, it’s not hard to believe that fate, or a higher power had a hand in it. I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to experience the world’s most boring movie plot, and yet an incredibly meaningful experience with my mother.
Now I have audiobooks to listen to. :)