What should be playing in the background as you read to this:
Hey Mama – Kanye West
Dear Mama – Tupac
“Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?” You ever been asked that? Because I have! I don’t particularly like that question though because I don’t think all of my accomplishments need to be evaluated with respect to each other. Some of them, maybe, but not all of them. Anyway, someone asked me that recently, so I thought about it, and I realized I have an answer for that question that actually makes sense to me. I took my mom with me to Spain and Croatia for about 2 weeks!
If I had to crown one of my accomplishments king as of now, I think that’d be it. By then, I’d done enough traveling to sort of know what to expect, how to move around, and how to mentally and emotionally navigate being in a country and culture that weren’t my own–especially since I’d been to Spain and Croatia before–but a lot of that was more or less new to her.
Now did it come with its challenges? Yes, it did. But wow, what a cool experience! I mean we went kayaking and snorkeling in the Adriatic Sea, took a small boat to a small island off Croatia’s coast, ate all kinds of food, did a little hiking, etc., etc. Literally all of that was new to her, and I got to introduce her to those things!
Why’s that so cool? I’ll explain. It’s way more than just the kayaking and whatnot. I’ve never traveled overseas with someone I’m related to. While the vast majority of my family has never left North America, I’m kind of the family nomad: I’ve bounced around a lot over the last 10 years, within the U.S. and beyond. There was a lot of culture shock for me when all this movement first started as a result of the contexts that I grew up in. As I started to visit more countries, though, I started to pick up and develop mental and emotional tools to help me process the experiences that I’d been having. I’m still developing those tools, but I eventually got to a point where I could encounter cultural differences, acknowledge those differences, and work to move forward in ways that were productive and healthy. My mom hadn’t quite had those experiences in the context of international travel, and it took me a minute to remember that and ask myself, “How do I help her process what she’s experiencing?” Her. MY MOM. That was interesting. It wasn’t exactly the first time I’d found myself in a similar situation, but this was different. Some of these waters were uncharted, and provided a unique bonding experience.
Hold up, wait a minute, because there’s a little more. Beyond the mutual learning experience, it was cool for another reason: Who deserves it more than Mom?! I’ll spare you the details of how her influence led me to discovering my passion for travel, but it definitely did. I felt like pulling her into that passion was a way of saying thanks in a language that was unique and personal to me. That, I must say, was pretty cool.