We have a little tradition in our house, something I invented to spend some of my suffocating wanderlust once required to settle down and be a dutiful wife and mother.
I offer each of my daughters, upon the occasion of their impending 10th birthday, a chance for a trip to anywhere in the continental US, just the two of us.
This brought me, two years ago, to Boca Raton, FL with my oldest and it will bring me to Hershey, PA next September with my middlest. It scratches an itch in me that has existed since childhood -- a thirst for new experiences and adventures without sacrificing the stability and comfort of home. For them, who knows. Some one on one time with mom, which they get in regular doses anyways, the thrill of a new place, the experience of being someone completely new and different.
Of course, as I plan #2's trip, #1 becomes increasingly jealous. So the planning doesn't always play out like a Leave it To Beaver episode. There have been tears.
And so my oldest, who has never openly paid me high praise or offered me anything short of poetic criticism, surprised me while I was making breakfast yesterday.
"Hey mom -- when I turn 21, can we go on another trip? Can we do round 2?"
"Aw, honey. That's so cute. But you are not going to want to spend your 21st birthday with me. You will want to be with your friends."
"Mom, I totally am."
"Trust me, Ruby. You're not."
"Trust me, I am."
Maybe she is. And wouldn't that just be the kicker? Can you even imagine? Me and my daughters, kicking back margaritas on their 21st birthdays? Taking planes, trains and automobiles once again to explore new places together, have new experiences? Maybe she'll talk me into zip-lining, maybe I can get her to read some of my favorite books while we lay by the pool.
Maybe by this simple process of offering them a 10th birthday present that can't be wrapped up in string, I will have nurtured their wanderlust too. And maybe -- just maybe -- they will still want to spend it with me.
I have no idea where #3 will want to go when she turns 10, but we have a few years to figure it out. Every now and again, I ask her and every once in a while, she has an answer.
"Where do you want to go with mommy for your 10th birthday, boo? What are you thinking?"
"Everywhere. I want to go everywhere with you."