Thursday, May 12, 2005

Growing Pains

The day I left for Utah I gave a million hugs to all my friends and had to pinch myself to know it wasn't a dream. Tried not to think about it. Tried not to cry. Got in the car with Mom. Manda and MJ waved goodbye as we drove off. Went through the Blue Ridge Mountains, through West Virginia, on to Loisville, KY. Argued with mom about why we went through Maryland, and about stopping in Louisville, and about shifting into the right gears.

I have to stop here and explain why I was arguing with mom. It had nothing to do with the route or shifting. The route we took was beautiful, and Kentucky charming. It had to do with mom coming along with me and then taking over the trip. It's not that she means to take over. She just does, but will tell you she doesn't. It wasn't that she wanted to stay in Kentucky, or get completely off the I-70 (a direct route through America to Utah), but that she'd already decided without even asking.

She came out to drive with me without even asking if I wanted her to come with me. She just said she'd get a ticket and I wasn't driving alone. I couldn't say no. Love Mom. She's wonderful and positive and sweet. But there was no asking. She was anxious to go, to leave DC as soon as she could, too. I was leaving a good life and great friends. I was reluctant. I was sad. This also escaped her. So I was leaving something hard to leave, with my mom, who assumed control of a trip I never asked her to come on. Not that I didn't want her there, or even knew the route I wanted to take. It was just all done for me.

We also had differing opinions on politics (driving a wedge between us many times before this trip). Her views were weak repeats of whatever She'd heard from Ann Colter. I like to think about everything from all sides of an argument rather than pick a side, which was mainly taken wrong with Mom. Then there was the talk about what I should be thinking about. Getting married. Oh Mom! Put it all together with our completely different tastes in music and mom repeatedly forgetting how to shift the gears properly and well...It drove me crazy. Our arguments carried us pretty much all the way through to Utah.

I was, admittedly, hard on her. I was admittedly annoyed with everything about her. She represented everything I did not want in my life. Older, forgetful, easily convinced, and pretty much just not hip at all. I was leaving great friends, ultra-intellectual conversation, a stellar music scene, a cosmopolitan life, for dorky, lame, super-smiley just pretend everything is wonderful and live with Mom and Dad in the guest bedroom Utah. Was less than grateful for it, too.

I realized our clothing, our music, the way we think about the world, everything about the two of us was completely different. We had grown so different from one another.

Had I changed? A little. Had she changed? A little. And the little made a lot. But I think even more than what in my mind she was a figure for, it was that I was, for the first time in my life, really seeing my mother as not just my mother, but as a seperate person in the world from me.

Growing up I was a "mommy's girl". She was my best friend and confidant. We shared a big imagination and a positive attitude about life. She was open and loving and cared for me more than anyone else in the world. We were like two peas. But there was a moment before we set out for our trip that we were eating at a diner and I looked across the table from her and had to explain to her, "Mom, I am a grown-up". I am a grown-up. She looked bewildered. "You are? I guess you are". I'm 26. I've been a grown-up for a while. But this was a revelation.

The truth is we are both still "growing up". In fact, we've even grown apart.

During this trip I began to see my mom. I saw her the way someone else, not her daughter, may see her. She's actually shy and socially awkward. Her way of thinking is soft and easy. Not much intellectually stimulating conversation. Not much understanding of most of what I was talking about. I was annoyed. Why couldn't she be a cool mom, maybe like D's mom who runs an orphanage in India and knows what's going on in the world? Why couldnt' she understand Ann Colter is crazy? Fox is evil? Her music tastes boring and commercial. But I was wrong to try to make her a substitute for the life I left behind. She's not my friends. Even though she's been my best friend. She's my mom. I began to see her as a person, seperate from me.

I don't know why I got after her for so much. It wasn't even fair. I kept scolding her for not shifting right or not paying attention or not knowing what I was talking about, or believing ridiculous arguments, or being shy and backward and afraid to talk to people for directions. It was like I was the parent and she the child.

I prayed every night to have more patience. Every day was a new challenge. Over time we got more used to each other. We argued less. I forgave her in my head for not being the way I wanted her to be. I realized she was a good person, she had different views and different goals for her life than I thought she should have. I had to learn that this is just the way she is, and this is the way I am and we choose to be two different people.

Finally we ended up agreeing we both like Simon and Garfunkle, we were both afraid to drive through a storm up Spanish Fork Canyon, and admittedly both not very good with a stick shift.

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