My Mother, My Friend

I didn't know that becoming an adult meant redefining my relationship with my mom.

The tension in the car was as thick as the fog obscuring the Chicago skyline before us. My older sister, who had voluntarily retired from navigational duties many miles back, sat silently in the passenger seat beside me. My mother was in the back seat, straining forward so she could continue reading aloud the traffic signs I could read perfectly well from the driver's seat. "I really think you've missed your turn," she said again. Tears gathered in my eyes.

Great, I thought, recalling some of our other mother-daughter clashes. I'm twenty-three, I have a wonderful job, I've lived in this area for two years, and my mother's still treating me like I'm five. Doesn't she trust me to drive us into the city? When is she ever going to realize I'm an adult?

My aunt—Mom's sister—sat silently in the back seat, no doubt thanking God she'd had two sons instead of two daughters, like Mom.

After a few tears, frustrated words, and U-turns, we finally made it downtown to take in some of the sights my mom, aunt, and sister had hoped to hit during their visit with me. And thankfully, the rest of their three-day stay went more smoothly—packed full of sightseeing, shopping, and eating out (things our family does best!).

But behind the hugs and laughter, I could sense the change. One afternoon, my aunt asked where we should eat lunch. There was an awkward pause as my mom, who usually decides such things in our family, realized she didn't know the restaurants in the area. It took me a moment to recognize that this was now my time and place to call the shots. We were on my turf.

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