When I decided to travel the world, the decision was met with overwhelming support and enthusiasm from friends and colleagues. There were only two naysayers (both of them ex-boyfriends), and I thought for sure my mother would be among them.
Of all the people I had to tell, I was most afraid of telling her.
That’s because my mother and I butt heads. We butt heads a LOT. In part because we’re so similar, and in part because we’re so different.
Here are a few things we have in common: We’re both scorpios (red flag, red flag!). We love fuzzy blankets. We love to play dress up. We are each other’s favorite person to nhậu with (it’s a Vietnamese thang). We love Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos. And we smile a lot.
Things we don’t have in common: just about everything else under the sun.
I thought for sure she would hate this idea of me quitting my job, draining my life savings, traveling the world – and alone, no less.
So I told her via email. [Insert nervous giggle]. It was a thoughtful, loving, carefully constructed email that would answer all her questions before she could badger me with em.
I had two things on my side:
1) For the months leading up to this decision, I was in crisis over the state of what I considered my pathetic life. I was a mess – a sobbing, hysterical, tear-my-hair-out, maniacal, hate-my-life MESS. I was having meltdown after meltdown. All the times I was crying and heaving so hard that I couldn’t breathe, it would be my parents on the other end of the phone to calm me down. In those months, I was at my lowest low, and they witnessed it first-hand. Everyone in my family agreed that something in my life needed to change.
2) My mother loves me.
Still, even with these things on my side, I was afraid. I spent hours crafting this email. It was as good as it was gonna get. I hit “Send” and I waited.
Two hours later, her response came: I am shocked and worried, but I have confidence in you. Whatever you have decided, I just want you to be happy. May God bless you and keep you safe in every way.
I sat in stunned silence. I read the email a couple times. And then I cried.
I cried tears of happiness for the first time in months. Having my mother’s support meant a lot to me – it gave me strength and it gave me momentum.
She would later tell me that although she supported me, she didn’t think I’d last 3 months out there on my own. Heh, way to kill a perfectly sweet sentiment. I sure showed HER! Ha.
A year later, she was visiting me in Vietnam and Cambodia (in fact, mom’s the one who took those freaky pics of me eating the tarantula)! Here we are in Vietnam last year:
We certainly have our fair share of ups and downs. But this simple fact always remains: my mom loves me and I love her. And she turns 50 this week. FIFTY! This woman here! In this photo, taken in Cancun just a couple months ago.
I guess we do have one more thing in common: we seem to have found the fountain of youth. I hope I look that good when I’m 50.
Happy Birthday Mom!!! Love you.