Missing Mom

Before the hurricane decided to head this way to New England, it was chasing us down on our family vacation the week before.  It’s funny to even say those words together:  “family vacation”.  We took a few of them when I was a child, a “family vacation” but it was never really the whole family.  My father took us on a few trips in the summers after my parents’ divorce; once to Cedar Point, twice to the shore in Delaware.  I don’t ever remember (and granted I was only 7 years old when my parents separated, eight when it became official a year later) a family vacation.  My mother and I went on a few trips together; a few times up to her girlfriend’s cottage on Lake Huron, and a few times to Northern Virginia to visit family.  Again, these weren’t with the whole family, as my siblings never went, and definitely not my father.

R and I have instituted the Family Christmas Vacation, a tradition we’ve kept up nearly every year since we married, but we’ve never really done much else.  I watch my friends go on trips to Disney and to the beach on school breaks and in the summers, but the timing is never right for us.  R is busy at work during most of July, and here in New England, it seems like the kids are in school often right up until the end of June.  Most of my summers here have been spent by the town pool or lake, or at a girlfriend’s house by their pool.  I’m not complaining (well, not much…); we’re lucky to live in an area that has all of this available to us.

But last year R’s parents decided it would be nice to take a “big” family vacation.  I’ve heard of grandparents doing things like this, but never experienced it in my family before.  We ended up going on a cruise with R’s parents, his sister, and our whole brood.  It was a nice, five day trip to the Canadian Maritimes, and everyone had a relaxing, truly great time. It went so well, in fact, that we decided to do the same thing this year, except longer, hotter and with more family members.  Which is how we ended up on a Caribbean cruise with R, his parents, his aunt, his cousin and her brood, and us.

And that’s when it happened.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love R’s family, and I have been very blessed to feel one hundred percent accepted by them. I am part of their family, and it is a wonderful feeling.  But still.

When I watched R’s aunt with her daughter this year, it hurt, just a little.

It doesn’t happen often, mind you.  I see mothers and daughters together all of the time, and it barely registers with me anymore.  Truly.  People complain about their mothers and the first thought really isn’t “At least you still have one,” any more.  I can hear it, appreciated it, offer feedback and never even once think about my own mother.

But as I watched R’s cousin, who is just a year older than me, with her mother, who has battled lung problems in the last few years and come out positively on the other side, I ached.  These are the things that I’ll never get to do.  I’ll never be able to share a grown up family vacation with my mom.  Or pour her a glass of wine.  Or hold hands with her.  Or oooo and ahh over a tropical beach so blue that it looks like it can’t be real.

It is true.  You really can miss what you never even had.

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