If you don’t know my daughter, trust me when I tell you she’s pretty spectacular. So when her Spring Break 2017 plans fell through with girlfriends and she asked me if we could go somewhere together my heart nearly burst with happiness. “Come on, it’ll be so much fun to hang out together mom!” Of course I was aware I was second fiddle, but tell me a struggling empty-nesting mom who wouldn’t jump at the chance to vacation with their daughter!
She researched potential destinations with a fervor I hoped she utilized at college and determined Antigua was a perfect location for a mother-daughter Spring Break. Affordable non-stop flight, gorgeous beaches and all the beautiful pictures we could take. After all, if it isn’t photographed, then it didn’t happen, right?
Well it happened alright! Other than a five-hour flight delay, our week in Antigua was absolutely delightful. Each morning we started our day with our very own pot of freshly brewed coffee and a personally prepared breakfast. The hours we spent at the infinity pool atop a mountainous resort were peaceful, breathtaking and filled with endless hummingbirds flitting from flower to flower. It was surreal.
Her research secured us a boat ride to a private beach where we shelled, hiked, bird watched and kayaked through mangroves. But the “piece de resistance” was the day we lounged on a canopied daybed perched alongside the turquoise ocean for an entire day. It was so peaceful in fact I determined this must be what my heaven will be like.
As wonderful as the activities and accommodations were, I knew the most treasured part of this trip would always be this uninterrupted time with my daughter. There were no friends, televisions, classes, jobs and limited wifi … in other words, mostly just us.
We were inseparable, just as it used to be. Yet, this trip was very different. I no longer had to hold her hand in the airport, pack her suitcase or carefully watch her by the pool. She was not on my hip or in a highchair at dinner but sitting across from me sharing laughs and a drink. That baby girl was the one who grabbed my hand to get me across the street safely. She planned the trip, packed the travel snacks, sunscreen and downloaded the final episodes of Gilmore Girls for us to watch on the plane.
I am not sure when she became a woman, but she sure has. I watched her communicate with strangers and navigate an island we had never been to before. Somehow the line between mother and daughter smudged, as she was doing more of the handling and I was doing more of the following. As comforting as it was seeing her be so successfully independent, my heart cracked a tiny bit. My role as her mom was changing—for me, a sign of things to come.
Just a few weeks later I went to visit my mom in Florida while I was in town for an author event. We were both looking so forward to spending time together alone, something our lives just didn’t allow us to do much of anymore. We shopped, sat by the pool, chatted endlessly without interruption, watched our favorite television show together and shared dinners. At some point during those five days I caught myself placing my arm around her shoulder as we were walking through the parking lot. I was immediately reminded of how my daughter grabbed my hand.
And there it was … a moment I’m so grateful did not slip right past me. The parallels were strikingly similar. My role as daughter was changing too. I help my mom not because she is incapable, but because of my love for her. Her role as my mom will never be in jeopardy, it just changes.
Moral: Consider yourself fortunate to experience time marching by, because it means you have time.
A few little things if you are contemplating a trip to Antigua: Sugar Ridge was our hotel, Antigua Paddles was the company we chose for our boating excursion and our day in heaven was spent at Sheer Rocks. Feel free to send questions our way.