Being carefree is one of the things that makes holidays so great when you’re a kid. You get airlifted out of your everyday life and dropped into an exciting new world. Your parents relax, everyone is happy, and the only goal is to have fun.
My mum’s attitude to travelling has always been to take every chance and run with it. If she can afford it, she’ll say yes to any opportunity. Leave her tiny town in New Zealand to live in the tropics of Australia’s Northern Territory? Of course! Move to London in the 70s? Why not? Travel across the USA with a tiny baby strapped to her chest? Easy! Visit a headhunter’s village in Sarawak? Yep. Luxuriate in a resort with room service and private staff? Who would say no?
Considering that I’ve ended up with a career as a travel writer, it’s pretty clear that I learned a lot from growing up with such an adventurous mother.
Now in her seventies, my mum’s not as nonchalant as she used to be about hopping on a plane and jetting off on an escapade. She’s less steady on those feet that once traipsed the 800kms of the Camino Trail. Her eyes, which once viewed the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu at sunrise and watched us so closely as we paddled in resort swimming pools, no longer serve her as well.
My sister and I have realised that our mum needs us to reverse roles a little. Instead of being looked after, now we need to organise, cook, drive and book our family holidays.
Recently, we embarked on a Mornington Peninsula girls’ weekend, with Mum and my teenage daughter. If there’s one thing Mum taught us it was to embrace the experiences that life can offer and we knew she’d love the idea of the trip. Our family legends involve tales of the Sepik River in PNG and jungle tribes in Borneo, but she was just as excited about a local destination.
We booked in for the Mother’s Day high tea package at the Arthur’s Seat Eagle, an aerial gondola that glides through the sky over the state forest. We carefully steered mum and ourselves into a cabin containing a pretty picnic table laden with goodies. Revelling in the sweeping views of the Mornington Peninsula and Port Phillip Bay, we gorged ourselves on petite sandwiches and cakes, macarons and cookies. At 314 metres above sea level, this was definitely the highest high tea we’ve ever had.
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During this trip, we learned how to relax in each other’s company. We took a walk on the beach, my daughter holding Mum’s hand, steadying her when she needed it. I watched them, knowing that step by step my child was learning the importance of family, of connecting in nature and of simply spending the time with the special people in her life.
We went to the Peninsula Hot Springs and, as we lay around in one of the new relaxation cabanas, we talked about all the places we’ll go when the travel ban is lifted. Feasting on a healthy salad of beetroot and chickpeas, then picking at fresh strawberries, watermelon, grapes, nuts, gourmet bread and cheese in the pre-ordered picnic lunch box, we dreamed and planned.
Hours of slipping in and out of spas, saunas and ice rooms was just what the doctor ordered. We had nowhere to be, no time restraints and, by the end of the day, no worries. Mum was not keen on the new fire and ice experience, where guests were being guided from the steam room and sauna to immerse themselves in a freezing plunge pool, but the reflexology walk was a hit with both her and my daughter; they insisted on repeating the mindfulness walk four times.
I love that my adventurous and spirited daughter has the chance to travel with my mum, that she is able to learn these lessons about embracing opportunities the way that I did. Being open to new experiences means having a growth mindset and I want her to think big about the world, to plan her university studies in other countries, in other languages.
Mum taught us that holidays are important for well-being. Having time to rejuvenate, rest and enjoy each other’s company is a luxury. While mum no longer wants to bungee jump off the AJ Hackett bridge or roll down a hill in Vanuatu in a zorb ball, she can still travel and explore. I want to offer her the world, just like she once did for us.
And as for my daughter, I want to offer her the world too, until I need her to offer it to me.
The writer was a guest of Peninsula Hot Springs and Arthur’s Seat Eagle)
(Lead image: provided by Peninsula Hot Springs via Tourism VIC)