…Mothers and Daughters….

I’ve recently been on a bit quiet on the writing front, because I’ve been on a road trip, and this was going to be a piece about food on the road and memorable meals…. But my Muse had other ideas, and the only thoughts I had, were about my travelling companions and inter-generational relationships… so “Tales from the Road” will have to wait for the next road trip…

at the end of the road
My 2 Intrepid companions at the end of the road

I was traveling with my 81-year-old Mum and my daughter – 3 women joined by history, genetics and strong family ties…With me as the bridge between the older and younger generations. They inhabit such different worlds, that they could well live in different countries… My mother yearning for the days of politeness, civility, and in her world, defined rules to live by… My daughter definitely being of the new Millennium, of technology, freedom of speech and shifting of social boundaries… But they have similarities too, both have a love of nature and animals, and both prefer country towns to mega cities…

feeding the gulls
Feeding the Gulls at Sunset

It was a road trip initiated by, me needing to be in Christchurch by a certain date, and Mum being with me for Christmas, all the excuse we needed for a road trip. Throw in a daughter who has recently finished school, and I thought a girls’ week away was in order. Mum and I have had a few road trips together. We travel well together, with similar tastes. We both like to see “What’s at the end of that road?”. She’s a brilliant photographer, so some trips may take 2 or 3 times longer than other people take – because it really is about the journey and not the destination. We both like a “balcony” and a wee cocktail hour at the end of the day… Early starts, seeing as much of every place we stay, and evenings spent reviewing the days “Takes” … And me listening to Mum’s life stories… I probably should be recording them, but she can’t see the need, and I’m just relishing the gift of time with her…

Adding my daughter to the mix, meant adding more animal parks to the itinerary. I like a zoo, but possibly not as much as my travelling companions do – but I was rewarded by a couple of animal encounters I’ve never had before. And seeing the smiles on the faces of my Mum and my daughter as they shared some magic with alpacas, or goats or lions, well? That’s just money in the memory bank…

As most women know, there are phases to your relationship with your mother… from baby, through teenage years, young adult, newly-wed, new mother to empty nester. All these times you need your mother in different ways, and in different “strengths” … I’ve been really lucky, both as a daughter and as a mother in my own right. My relationships with my mother and my daughter have been pretty smooth sailing. That’s not to say its some “Little House on the Prairie” perfect relationship, but by and large we’ve always got on. I’ve been blessed that my daughter has never gone through the smart mouthed, flouncy teenage stage, and has been pretty level headed throughout. And once I transitioned to adulthood, after a few teething issues, Mum and I have settled into, hopefully, mutual respect… But the trip certainly highlighted the give and take that the “woman in the middle” (i.e. me) must make. When you’re mothering as a daughter or daughtering as a mother, you are aware that you occasionally stand on shaky ground, and must be flexible, lol.

sunset akaroa
Sunset in Akaroa

Each generation parents differently from the one before. Times change, and with them, social expectations, technology, health knowledge and fads all change with them. I certainly don’t parent the way my mother did but hope that I took the essence of what I learned from her and put on my interpretation. I know she’s incredibly proud of my 3 kids, so maybe in the end I got something right. And no doubt, once my kids are parents, I will sometimes wonder if they know what they’re doing!

As I’ve written before my Mum was a child refugee in the war. My Babcia (Polish for Grandmother) and Mum, were taken to Siberia, by the Russians and placed in a labour camp. Although she had a very small child with her, Babcia managed to survive the depravations by using her wits. At the end of the war she travelled, with said small, all the way from Siberia to a refugee camp in Kenya, where they lived for many years before being finally reunited with my grandfather and finding a life post war. My Babcia, had a steel backbone, and a strength that I came to admire as I grew from child to adult. I see that same steel back bone in my mother – she who travelled from Kenya to NZ with 3 young children and her husband to start a life with new possibilities for me and my siblings. When I was at a similar age to that which she had been, I was awed. In the 70’s it really was a one-way journey, and I’m not sure I would have had the courage to make that one-way trip.

I see this backbone in my daughter, especially of late when she has been dealing with some health issues. She can’t see it for herself, but I know it will help her out in the end… I also see my mother’s generous heart beating in her, and already she shows the same gift of giving people time, and help.

And for myself? I have felt this backbone in recent years, when my family has had to deal with several serious health issues. Beneficial? Definitely. But, to quote my mother, there is a “Curse of the Capable woman” … If you’re a “Coper”, people often leave you to it – either thinking you have it covered, or being too intimidated to offer to help…

And so…. To the road trip…

kiwi baches
Kiwi Baches nestled below the hills

We drove, often to the end of that road to see what was there… and more often than not, found some very special corner of this land that I love. Some beach, almost secluded, or if inhabited, by quintessential Kiwi “Baches” (Holiday cottages), not modern glass fronted mansions, but simple, places, with cars parked on the front lawn, towels hung on a make shift laundry line; and a mess of kayaks and fishing gear.

We shared photo ops; discovered places none of us had been before; fed animals of all shapes and sizes. We all spotted Kiwi, that very shy retiring NZ Native, in the darkened enclosure in more numbers than any of us had seen before… And we played with Kea, that definitely not shy, NZ Native bird, who delights in pranking and stealing all things shiny…

We shopped – a little, each finding some memento of the trip, and the odd pair of shoes, or collectable…

And, yes, there were memorable meals, simple food, eaten with our fingers, on a balcony, or even in the car… We shared our fish and chip dinner with voracious gulls, at sunset…

 

But to quote the very nice artist I met in Kaikoura, we were “Just making memories…”..

To My Mum, and My Daughter..xxx

 

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