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The Trip of a Lifetime
The trip of a lifetime. I hate that expression. It feels so limiting, like you will have this one great experience and then everything that comes after is a let-down. As if our lives have one pinnacle against which everything before and after is measured. And yet that is what I just experienced. Not because of where I went, but who I went with. 

April 2015

The trip of a lifetime. I hate that expression. It feels so limiting, like you will have this one great experience and then everything that comes after is a let-down. As if our lives have one pinnacle against which everything before and after is measured. And yet that is what I just experienced. Not because of where I went, but who I went with.

In Minnesota we have a tradition of throwing parties for high school graduations. They are elaborate events, complete with tents, a meal, desserts and lots of guests.

After having done two of these for our older sons, we gave our daughter the option of a graduation party or a trip. Having seen the time and work that went into the boys’ parties, and realizing that she would be the main laborer for all those preparations, she opted for the trip. To save money and allow her to fully set the agenda, we decided on a mother-daughter trip and left dad and brothers at home.

Mother-daughter relationships can be complicated. Two females living in the same house can get ugly. I wouldn’t characterize our relationship that way. But, like every mother and daughter, we’ve had our moments. In planning the trip I had doubts about spending 10 days together with no other family buffer. We had never done a trip of this length together, and while I hoped it would bond us more, I realized too much togetherness can sometimes be too much. I wanted us to still like each other by trip’s end.

Our daughter is also our baby. With two older brothers, she grew up having to learn how to stand up for herself or risk getting mowed over. As a result she developed an independent streak from a young age. I love her strength, her feistiness, and her well-defined sense of self. But occasionally those traits led to some head-butting. Especially during the teen years, when girls need to establish their own sense of identify independent of mom.

I confess I’ve had days when college couldn’t come soon enough. But at the same time I see looming a huge life transition as my husband and I leave our child-rearing days behind and become empty nesters. (Well, almost, if you don’t count college age kids occasionally fluttering back home while launching their own lives.) So having this one-on-one time with my daughter, maybe for the last time, felt…priceless. That’s why I wanted everything to go well. Not only as a last special time with her, but for me possibly the last time with my last child before she, too, goes on to start a life of her own.

I let her take the lead choosing where we would go and what destinations mattered to her, something as the youngest of three she had never experienced. (I did set the ground rules that they would have to be places I was also at least somewhat interested in.)

When we arrived overseas, we had to work as a team, reading maps (me) or using the smart phone navigation (her). We had to figure out how to get along in foreign countries, convert British pounds and Euros to dollars, navigate narrow French country lanes and read traffic signs in a language neither one of us speaks. And we did it together.

Probably for one of the first times ever, we worked together as a team of equals, rather than mom setting the agenda and daughter following along.

As we packed and re-packed traveling along the French coastline and back to Paris, I reflected that while part of me missed the days when our children were small and their lives revolved around mom and dad, it was a relief to have another competent adult who could get herself and her things ready without my help. I was proud to see her take the lead to figure out foreign subway systems and not to have everything always depend on me.

It was enjoyable to reach the stage where our shopping interests finally coincided. (No more waiting while the other shopped in the “teen” store or the “mom” store.) It was especially fun to travel with another female who enjoyed shopping as much as I did (unlike my husband who tolerates shopping but does not enjoy it.)

We happened upon some truly once in a lifetime experiences, like getting same-day front row seats for half price for her favorite musical “Wicked.” Or experiencing Paris, the “City of Lights” at night—on bicycles. We shared ordinary moments, too. Like giggling together as we raced to catch the subway, her charging ahead, me trying to keep up.

I recognized her strong confident self, which sometimes created conflict for us, as an asset that will serve her well in life. I saw the occasional head-butting we had as mom and daughter was her learning to be strong and find her own path.

While I hope this is not the last time we are able to share special times together, this was a trip of a lifetime. One chapter of life is ending for me. My days of directing our children’s day-to-day activities are done. Parenting transitions to more mentoring and less “telling.”

With college and young adulthood approaching, we will still have bumpy roads to travel until she is fully mature. But we’re graduating to something new. Still parent and child. Mother and daughter—always. But now something more: friends.

Did you know that one of the great things about cfaith is that no matter where someone lives or travels to, the faith-building resources on our website are only a click away?

As an online ministry, each year cfaith reaches lost souls and shares the life-changing message of faith in God's Word with people in more than 180 countries!

Thanks to you, the power of God is being extended to others around the world. And traveling ministry at its best. (:

Thank you for
supporting the ministry of cfaith, and may God bless you in all your travels and transitions,

Martha Hultgren
cfaith staff 

Author Biography

Martha Hultgren
Web site: cfaith
Martha Hultgren is a wife, mom, traveler, writer, editor, and, most importantly, a follower of Jesus Christ. Martha worked as a content editor for Martha has three children and lives with her husband Rick and cat Diamond in Maple Grove, Minnesota.

About Us

The online ministry of cfaith has been helping people discover faith, friends and freedom in the Word since 2000. Cfaith provides a unique and comprehensive collection of faith-building resources for the worldwide faith community.

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