April 26, 2015

The High Price of the Road

"While you're out riding your motorcycle around the country, you're not getting to know your own grandson. He's afraid of you! I'm not saying you're a bad grandmother, but. . . "

With those words, my daughter broke my heart. As she sat in my hotel room with my young grandson in her arms, she spewed her pain of being a new mother, blaming me for not giving her enough support.

My daughter Olivia and my grandson Jackson

"You're never here. You're all over the country, thinking only of yourself, having a great time, forgetting about me and Jackson. What about us? You're not the kind of grandmother who takes the baby for the day, or gets to know him, or bakes cookies. . ."

I knew she was referring to her husband David's mother, Jackson's other grandmother who had recently come to visit. Olivia has compared me to Anne in the past and it always hurts.

I cried for an hour. I just couldn't help it. Olivia always has a way of hitting me where I live when we fight.
With Olivia, David and Anne, David's Mom, a couple of years ago. She's astoundingly patient and sweet, unlike me.

Olivia and I are like oil and water, yet remarkably attracted to one another. We miss one another, love each other so deeply, and fight more than half of the time we are together. I can't shut my mouth when I'm near her, constantly giving her advice and often, to my own chagrin, criticizing her. My own behavior infuriates me because the truth is, I think she's amazing. And as much as I try to tell her that, I still find myself being a critical nag all too often.

Olivia responds with anger, frustration and spewing guilt. She holds my mistakes as a parent in her heart and slams me from with them time to time. I've always encouraged Olivia to embrace her emotions and share them freely, even when it breaks my own heart.

This day, my heart was broken.

Steve stepped in and mediated our argument, showing each of us where we could improve, helping us understand what the other was truly saying. He's amazing at that and has helped the relationship between my daughter and I immensely.

The visit had it's high points too. We went out with Olivia's friend to dinner, shopping and drinks and had a great time.

Olivia is frightened because she feels she needs my help raising her new son. She is angry that I've chosen to ride my motorcycle on this journey of self discovery rather than settle down and be a grandmother in the traditional sense of the word.

I feel guilty for not being a better mother and grandmother. I am doing my best to balance my responsibilities with my desire to live a fulfilling life. As much as I love Olivia, David and Jackson, I don't want to spend my life in one place, fighting her every other day. It would simply be miserable for me and I would make a pretty miserable grandmother.

And this, is my greatest failing.

It always has been.

As much as I tried to fit into the role of a happy soccer mom, I've always struggled with it. I loved hosting the weekly summer sleepovers, assisting with Girl Scouts, the morning talks we had in the car on the way to school, cooking dinner every night and baking cookies at Christmas time. I miss those times greatly on the road, but I must admit, the rest of the duties of motherhood took an enormous toll on me.
At Olivia's Middle School Graduation, so proud of her achievements. These years as her Mom were beautiful and fulfilling in their own way, but those days are long past for me. 

The road comes at a high price.

With it comes the guilt of riding away from those who love me and want my attention. I have friends who feel as abandoned as my daughter and can only think of what my leaving does to them. Some of these friends have walked away completely, breaking a piece of my heart, one by one.

For some, absence truly does make the heart grow fonder. But for others it hardens the heart with resentment and longing, causing a painful backlash.
Riding into Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado, for my second try at crossing the Continental Divide in Colorado on two wheels. My first attempt was nothing short of dramatic.

My burdens in life have not disappeared, but only changed. As I no longer struggle with the burdens of motherhood and a miserable marriage, I struggle with guilt and loneliness on the road. I miss my kids, my niece's family, and my friends from time to time, ever so deeply.

So I suppose it is true, that to all things, there is a balance.


1 comment:

  1. I can relate to you on this. Thank you for sharing so transparently. You're truly inspiring. Find your peace on the road.

    On that last image... Asphalt Annie hanging upside down... that's how I feel in life many times. I'm sure you do too!

    Love you Sash.


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