Forget the horrors of your teen years, Mom and Dad are amazing road buddies.
2013 was a very hard year for my mother. So hard that when I had the chance to take a week-long trip to The Big Island, Hawaii, I did not ask my boyfriend to go with me. Sure, we could have had the kind of romantic getaway that rich people on TV have, but my mother — who had just lost her brother and mother in a month — needed this. We’d talk and heal and bond, I imagined, over volcanic hikes, cocktails at the pool and beach jaunts. I have to admit that more than once I thought smugly, I’m such a good daughter for taking her.
Maybe I am. But I was also clueless. My mother and I had not been on a trip together since I was in middle school and we rented a house at the Jersey shore. A house with a big yard, lots of bedrooms and the beach out back, meaning we didn’t really have to see much of each other. Hawaii was a 12-hour plane ride and then a shared hotel room in a place where we didn’t know anyone else — so not the Jersey shore.
If, like me, you’ve never spent such a concentrated amount of adult time in a faraway place with a parent, there are a few things to consider. Yes, you are a grown-up, but you are always going to be a child to your mom and dad. So that means they will ask you a lot of questions you haven’t had to answer since you were 10, like, “Did you remember your sunscreen?” and “Sure you don’t need to go to the bathroom before we leave?”
But this is also what happens when you take a vacation with a parent: You learn that they do not move as fast as they use to and that they need a little more sleep and maybe have to take medication every day (bottles that you never saw when you’d go to visit them). And as you are trying not to freak out that they are older, they are noticing that you are, too. Too often when we go home to visit parents, we revert back to tall kids, but on the road everyone is a grown-up. And this is a chance for your parents to really get to know this person who they raised and go even further to bond as friends who enjoy each other’s time and company. Often that is the thing they will love more than the beach, museums or whatever else you do.
That is also the thing you should cherish most. Because even if your parents get on your nerves a bit or insist on sleeping with the TV on when you need absolute silence, these are the memories that will last forever, the ones that may rival some of your childhood ones. Even better, you may find out that your Mom is a much better travel buddy than your BFF and this could easily become a regular habit — the last thing you ever imagined happening when you were a teenager, but the best thing you can imagine now that you’re all grown up.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: 237/Robert Nicholas/Ocean/Corbis)