Parents are people too


Photo credit: Briana Mcdaniel

Moms and daughters fight. As young women try to find themselves a lot of resentment comes to surface as they grow into the women that raised them.

My mother and I were no different. We argued, we slammed doors and we said things we regretted.

This summer I spent 31 days traveling Europe with her and I recommend it to any woman who has ever claimed that their mother “just doesn’t get it.” I counter with women don’t actually understand their moms.

Throughout the course of countless currencies and languages, 13 cities, 15 hostels and two backpacks I learned more about my mother’s own journey than I had in the prior 21 years of our relationship.

Often people associate their parents with just parenthood. Children aren’t in a position to see their parents as anything other than guardians. Past pain, loves, good days and bad days don’t come to children’s mind when they speak and work with their parental units.

My mother had lived in Germany for seven years as a child. At the time the Iron Curtain still stood strong, as did the Berlin Wall. She had never been to most the countries we visited on this trip. As we toured Berlin she often got emotional and choked up.

Seeing her in this light was interesting and emotional for me as well. My mother ultimately lost both of her parents and her older brother and I had never thought about that in perspective to my own life. I would be devastated if I lost my own family.

I can’t imagine what being in this city—so liberated and beautiful from when she last walked the streets—looks like after so many years of change and heartbreak.

Obviously, when two people are forced to be together nonstop for so many days there is bound to be conflict.

However instead of the usual mother-daughter issues that arise from misunderstanding and the mother unit trying to protect their daughters from making the same mistakes they did growing up, issues are more generic like getting lost and being messy.

When parents and their children travel together as adults, parents are able to see their kids in a new light as well. Parents can see their children take on responsibility and individuality on the trip and with that comes an immense amount of pride.

On this trip, Mom never once told me not to go out, never scolded me. We were partners in this adventure because we needed each other in equal parts.

I depended on her prior travel knowledge and her opinion on the different sites and cities and she depended on me to use my anxiety-driven navigational skills to make sure we made it to our hostels every night.

When two parties need to give and take, there is no power structure. My mother and I became equals on this journey and definitely friends.

I returned home with such a high amount of respect and admiration for her and am constantly eager to share my daily adventures with her in hopes of hearing the stories of her own life that might relate.

No one ever said growing up is easy. No one will tell you that you are supposed to get along with your parents 24/7. However, there comes a time when a child should step back and look at their parents as complete souls with pasts.

Whitney Urmann can be reached at [email protected] or @WhitneyUrmann on Twitter.