Years ago, after I shared the news of the pregnancy my mother probably thought would never happen, she informed me she was moving to be with me. “You’re moving to Vancouver?” I was stunned, after ten years of her living in Scottsdale, Arizona; I never thought she’d return. But she wasn’t moving back to Canada, where I was living. No, she decided to move to Washington. At the time, I wasn’t living in Belfair and really had no intention of moving. But, then suddenly there was this baby arriving, with a plan of its own, and my world rearranged itself to make room.
My mother has a way of blazing a trail. And, true to style, she arrived in Belfair and took the town by storm; joining the Chamber, getting on the Board of the local community center, reaching out to build her photography business with her own signature style. In an instant, she knew everyone. On the other hand, after 14 years of visiting the town, I knew no one. Okay. I knew one person. And the grocery store people. This was never supposed to be permanent. In my mind Belfair was cut flowers, never a plant. I had no intention of growing roots here.
As I spent more time here, I watched from the sidelines as my Mum dug herself in, made connections, knew every treasured store and unique place for coffee, and discovered every back way and short cut. Everywhere we went together she ran into someone she knew. She was written up in the paper. She was always busy. I was amazed at her tenacity and ability to blend into a place so seamlessly, and in an instant. One day, out for lunch at one of her favorite little spots, she planted my first seeds of friendship here by introducing me to people she knew that were part of Mom’s Club in Port Orchard.
Unfortunately this apple was thrown very far from the tree because, even though I joined the Mom’s group and had access to a whole bunch of mothers, I hovered around the sidelines for almost a year. Not exactly my mother’s daughter in the social department. The other reason I didn’t want to get too involved was because, seeing as this wasn’t permanent, the last thing I needed was more people in my life once I left. I was already missing my people back home.
But one day the sound of my own complaints got too much to bear and I ripped a page out of my mother’s book and set forth to figure this place out. Between my frequent trips home I started showing up at the playgroups I had initially deemed tedious. I even hosted a play date or two. Lo and behold, people showed up! And slowly I started to understand what my mother meant when she said, “Give it a chance. I’ve met some real treasures.” Living your life with one foot out the door makes it really hard to get to know people. With a change of attitude, my roots started to grow.
Soon, I was introducing my Mum to people I knew, to my groups and taking her to my favorite places. Planning my son’s 5th birthday, I had her meet me at a new place that had just opened so I could get her advice about having the party there. In her signature fashion, she was sold on it the minute she walked in. It was minutes before she started on me to buy a membership to Discovery Village so I could also get the discount when I booked the party. I used to resist her enthusiastic pushes, but over the years I’ve learned to know when to give in.
Now here I am, firmly planted. And my mother is about to flutter off again, like a butterfly on her way to check out a new flower. This time she is moving back to Vancouver. I’m happy for her. Really I am. But a part of me can’t help flashing back to 1995 and her departure for Arizona, when I stood on the porch of my house, without a tear, waving goodbye. It wasn’t until I got back inside that I let myself cry and experience the sense of loss as I watched her drive away. This time I won’t let myself cry on the porch either. I’ll paint on the same smile my Mum paints on for me, for the two little boys who will be waving by my side; the little boys who are rooted and growing.
Thanks Mum. I get it now.
Is it time for you and your Mom to get a new photo? Or do you want to capture a special moment with you and your kids? Mom & Me Photo Shoot: Friday, May 4th from 10 am to Noon at Discovery Village. Photographer Molly Finnell will be taking photos in honor of Mother’s Day. (2) 5×7 Photos $15, additional prints and packages will be available. This event benefits Backpack for Kids, a program which provides non-perishable food items to local kids in need. Without this program many kids would go home hungry on weekends.