People often asked me this year, “what do your parents think of you living in India?” The concern in their voice makes me think they picture my departure as something like a late night escape – throwing my luggage out the window, shimmying down the rain pipe, and hailing a friend waiting in a car in the alley to take me to the airport, calling home on the layover in Amsterdam to let the folks know I’m moving to India for a year. Then in January when my dad visited, people saw his interest in Indian culture and Hinduism and the question turned to an even more concerned inquiry of how my mom felt about her daughter being so far away from home in such a foreign place. How did she let you go? Well, anyone who thought she tried to hold me back for a second doesn’t know my mom.
This is a picture of my mom and me on one of my first trips to a new place. It is late September 1989, I am 13 months old and we are on a trip to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins in Maine. My mom hasn’t aged a day since this picture (really) but I on the other hand have grown up a bit, I am taller than her now, and I while I can walk on my own I still can’t make a major decision without discussing it first with her. She never tells me what I should do but listens deeply and asks incredibly insightful questions that always lead me to the answer which is right for me. The morning I left for India last summer I woke up before dawn, terrified, thinking I was about to make a huge and scary mistake: what was I doing leaving home for so long for a place as unfamiliar as India!? I went and woke her up and she came and sat in bed with me. I don’t remember what exactly she told me but I know that when it was time for me to leave I felt strong and confident and excited to take on a big adventure.
Mom, you have been an incredible supporter, friend, and mentor as long as I can remember. You have built a strong foundation from which I can fly. Thank you for encouraging me to pursue my dreams, travel to new places, and try new things. I am inspired by your strength, your intelligence, your class and your ability to have fun and bring people together as the unrivaled Hostess with the Mostest in my book.
I think one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child is the support and encouragement to be who they are, not what anyone else expects them to be. My parents have always encouraged me to pursue my interests and dreams and have been unwavering supporters along the way. As my year in India comes to a close (I’ll be on a plane out of Delhi in less than 36 hours) I thank them for giving me the strength and support to pursue this adventure.
I found this video a few weeks ago and it made me think of my mom. These Olympic-athletes-to-be were training from childhood so I don’t know if they devoured as many delicious homemade chocolate chips, Rice Krispie bars, hot chocolate, or Kool-Aid as I did. But, like me, they had the support of an amazing mother who was with them every step of the way, cheering them on. I dedicate this video to my mom. You are an Olympic Gold Mother if there ever was one! I miss you, I love you, and I can’t wait to see you soon.
And Happy Mothers’ Day to all of you, my readers, who are also mothers. You are rock stars!