Recently my daughter and I did a much needed impromptu escape. Turns out sometimes escaping can actually be reconnecting.
We were supposed to go look at colleges, do some exploring of potential places she might want to spend 4 years of her life. Check out new cities, see different campuses and get a feel for what size school she might be looking at. It was all planned.
But just like in life, curveballs get thrown.
We had a hard couple weeks before- struggling, learning and growing through pain. We had tears and we had hurts. We were both worn down emotionally and we needed to circle the wagons.
So we pivoted.
Instead of hitting three states and lots of travel, we decided to hunker down and just go to the beach.
The ocean has a way of drawing you in when you need it most.
I let her pick the city and hotel because at that moment she needed to control some thing. A lot of external things in her life felt out of her control but deciding where we were going to go for the week was something I could offer her.
And she did not disappoint. She picked a wonderful hotel across the street from the beach and a place where we both felt could allow us the exhale we needed.
For 5 days we reconnected. Not in a kumbaya kinda way, but in exactly the way we needed. I’m sure if you asked her, she would’ve loved to have had time with her friends but I didn’t offer her that option. She had one person to lean into that week… and it was me.
As a matter of fact, one of our dear friends was staying close and asked if we wanted to get together. Any other time I would’ve thought that was a great idea, the more the merrier, but this time felt different. I needed all of my precious girl and I wanted her to know I was there for her with my whole heart and with no distractions. This time alone felt sacred, like oxygen… necessary and vital to my role as a mom and as a person.
We sat at the ocean where conversations moved like the tide- ebbing and flowing. High tide full of love and unity…low tide full of empty space and yearning to understand each other. We chewed out our anger like crashing waves and we soothed our spirits like lapping water. We were both hurting and the vastness of the beach gave us enough space to process it all.
We had tears but we also had laughter. We watched old shows in our hotel room like Friends and Modern Family and found ourselves cracking up at episodes we had watched many times before. I was her wingman and I’m proud to say I think I did a good job (she might disagree but I’m taking that to the grave!) helping her connect one day with two cute high school boys to play in the cold ocean water with.
We played Uno and Boggle in our hotel room with the sliding door open to the ocean. We read together, each finishing one book and sharing about what we enjoyed about it and trying to convince the other to read our book next.
She made us matching bracelets and we wore them all week. As matter of fact, mine is still on my wrist. I figure it will
come off when it’s ready but for now, those colorful beads connect me back to her and the time we carved out to work through our stuff.
And that’s what we needed.
I needed her to know I love her- without judgment or expectations. I needed her to know that nothing she could say or do
would ever change my love for her or the joy I feel when we spend time together. I needed her to know that she is imperfect but so am I, on so so so many levels. I needed her to know that whatever comes her way, I’m always here. I needed her to know her value to me runs deeper than she will ever know. And even if we fight or battle or yell or cry, our bond and our love is unshakable.
Life isn’t meant to be “smooth sailing” all the time; it’s those rough waters that allow us to see who we truly are and just how strong we truly are.
And it’s in the tough moments that we cling to each other and ride out the storm.
She may have days or weeks or even months where she doesn’t like me, or my boundaries or rules and I’m okay with that. I’m okay if she gets frustrated with me or thinks I’m uncool or too strict. I’m okay if I’m not her favorite person. I respect she’s a teenager and I’m a mother and that means we may not see eye to eye.
But she’s my biggest investment. And I’m
willing to be patient and wait for my returns to come back, with faith and with prayer. I won’t rush the process. I’ll respect the ups and downs. I’ll ride out the journey and I’ll let her find her way back to me when she is ready.
Sometimes love needs a retreat. When the low tide comes, it seems the ocean has disappeared completely. And when the water returns, we can once again take in the beauty of this special gift and all it has to offer.
Patience. Time. An open heart.
I think it’s interesting that since we’ve gotten home from our week at the ocean she started re-watching Gilmore Girls. We had watched it together when she was younger but she tells me somehow now, watching it feels different. I choke up as I write this because I realize that what she’s really saying is that through it all, she is her mother’s daughter and longs for the closeness that I long for as well.
I know in my heart, we are getting there.
Recently on one of the episodes Lorelei Gilmore says “Relationships need verbs”.
Giving, receiving, processing, playing, sharing, forgiving and loving. All things the ocean brought us.
Like the beautiful but very strong ocean, I’m realizing that the relationship between and mother and daughter is a powerful force to be reckoned with. It is bigger than us and so much more powerful than our minds.
Her story, my story, our story… is always changing, always different, always in motion just like the waves and waters that comfort us. Calm or rough, still or rigid, soothing or scary…. we can and will weather whatever comes our way and always find our way back to each other.
Where you lead, I will follow.