Monday, November 16, 2015

Milestones and Memories

One of my favourite mother/daughter movie scenes
from Easy A

I think typical milestones are often over rated. I know we all tend to remember the big birthdays, the weddings, the graduations and we have the photos to remind us as these are usually times when the cameras are flashing. We look back at the photos weeks , months and years later and pause and reflect. We remember the day, the weather, what we wore, who was in attendance and all those wonderful things. These are standard, typical passages of time that most of us, especially parents tend to celebrate with our kids. 

But I think there are other milestones. The less elaborate ones. Moments that become etched in our memory that are perhaps even more important in some ways. I experienced exactly such a moment this past weekend. It was the first time I witnessed my daughter in charge. For the first time in our 21 years together on this planet, it was she who took the reins. I was visiting her in her world. Her hood. She was my guide. She knew the Ottawa transit system, the names of the various neighbourhoods, the best spots for coffee, for vintage records, for bargain clothing shopping and she took me by the hand and led the way. It was a shift I will forever remember. Oddly, we did not take many photos, no selfies at all in fact. We just hung together, walked together, ate together, chilled together and neither of us felt the need to record it with our cameras. 

As you know, if you know me at all, I am a bit of a chronic capturer of images. What we did this weekend though was not all that photo worthy. It was really just memory worthy. We had a girly spa morning at the hotel. I put a colour rinse in her hair and shaped her brows. We ordered in Thai food on Saturday night and watched a movie together and laughed, a lot. We talked. We napped. We kind of just kept the schedule light and spontaneous. She got to meet an old high school girlfriend of mine and although she could have been bored with all the conversation that steadily tripped down memory lane, she was mature enough to realize that just being present and listening would likely let her in on some of her mother's past that until now she might not have known. (thank you Tracy for not telling her everything!).

I knew saying goodbye was coming this morning and I felt the emotion rising in me as early as last night. We don't have a date planned for our next visit. We won't have one planned until at least the new year and that is unsettling. The full-on Christmas decorations in the shops tugged at my heart and at least once I had to exit a shop before it became too much to bear. It is the one holiday that I find most difficult to navigate now that we are living on opposite sides of the globe. In many ways, I just wish it would disappear. There are way too many memories and far too much sentimentality attached to that time of year. I asked her if she was bothered by the fact that we would not be together again this year and as I searched her face and her eyes for any trace of emotion, she calmly told me she was not. It made me realize that it is not a problem for her, it is only a problem for me. So, if it is OK with her, maybe, just maybe, I can let go of this burden of guilt I heap upon myself every time I hear that damn Charlie Brown Christmas CD playing everywhere for what seems like the entire month of December. And, since it has always been our favourite yuletide music, maybe this year, I can listen to it and smile and think back to this past weekend and really feel OK, knowing she is perfectly OK.

That might be the second milestone of 2015.

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