5oo Miles

“Yeah, so I don’t know how we’re going to be able to keep track of Mom.”

My brother and I are on the phone having one of our long, rambling conversations, about everything and nothing. Our mom is in Spain with her best friend, on a pilgrimage to walk 500 miles. She will be gone 6 weeks, and we’re trying to figure out how to get technology on our side to help us track her progress.

What’s left unsaid has long been understood.

We have an amazing mom. She’s traveled to Greece and New Zealand solo. She’s hang-glided with a guy who looked exactly like the Dahli Lama (my brother and I still swear it was him). She’s hiked on glaciers. She’s rock climbed alongside us in Wisconsin, Squamish, New Hampshire and Colorado. She’s run a half marathon in China and a marathon in Chicago. She’s made a hobby of turning away from all she’s known to set out to discover herself.

And now Spain.

I’ve been stuck in my head for weeks leading up to her leaving. Truly and selfishly, worrying more about me than about her. I’ve been filled with anxiety about how I will be able to get through 6 weeks without my mom.

She lives in Wisconsin and I live in Chicago, but we are closer than ever. We talk and text every day, multiple times throughout the day: “Mom, how many bananas do I need for that banana bread recipe again? Is this a rash or a bug bite on Harper? What’s that one book? Hey, remember that time…?”

It’s a thread woven through my days that I’ve grown to look forward to and count on. A never-ending conversation between 2 people who can finish each other’s sentences (and texts). And I was starting to fear I would be lost without it.

I’ve learned to depend on my mom because I can. If I need her in the middle of the night, she’s on her way. If I have a question, she answers it. When I need support, guidance, love…there she is.

In the middle of one of my worry sessions, my husband interrupted my swirling, spinning thoughts: “You’re stronger than you think, you know. You’re a mom now, too.”

That was it. That was the moment it hit me. The moment a thousand light bulbs went off and angels sang (ok, you get the idea).

My mom has instilled in me the same independence that is in her. She has not only taught me, but shown me how to be strong, willful, inspired and determined.

And just because she’s thousands of miles away, those strengths don’t go away. They’re in there. They were there when I up and moved to Atlanta on my own after college because I was bored of Wisconsin. They were there when I moved to Chicago when the Atlanta chapter had closed. They were there when I did the Chicago marathon, and when I rock climbed alongside her in Squamish, Colorado, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

And they’re there now.

They’re here when I’m the mom taking care of my daughter. Teaching and showing her how to be an independent girl, ready to explore and conquer that big world.

Go get em, Mom.

And don’t worry about me.

I’ll be ok.




  • Anna Joiner

    Yay Susan! I can’t wait to hear all about it! She’s a great mom to all of us!

    • suzanne

      Yes, she is!

  • Ella

    Love this post!!! And love that your mom is so adventurous. I spent years saying I never wanted to be like my mom…and I’ve quickly realized I am just like her….strong willed, determined, eternal optimist, adventurous, and now a very loving mother who is trying to do her best.

    • suzanne

      Thank you! Your mom sounds wonderful, too. Isn’t it funny how that happens?! 🙂

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