A healing, launching, bonding journey with my daughter
Go Big or Go Home
Wild Women community member Shira Cohen shares with us her beautiful experience with her daughter, Cari, on our Northern Thailand Active Adventure (formerly known as our Elephants, Treks & Temples Tour). A truly heartfelt thank you Shira for sharing such an intimate story with our community!
When I was three months pregnant with my daughter, my Mom, Carole, died at age 57. She was my best friend. We had many amazing mother/daughter trips together that included cross-country skiing, camping, and hiking. When our healthy baby girl was born, we named her Cari, after my Mom. When Cari turned 16, I told her I would take her on a trip, just the two of us. As a peer-oriented teenager who was growing in leadership roles in youth movements and summer camps, her priority then was not to travel with me. Whenever the subject came up she would mention expensive trips to faraway places. Go Big or Go Home. Not exactly what I had in mind, but the idea was growing on me. The timing never seemed to work out. As a school division employee, I was free in the summer, and she was working at camp until COVID shut that down. Not being a money saver for specific goals, I uncharacteristically started a savings account for a possible future trip with Cari.
Anticipating turning 60, I decided it was time to take time off from my job of 25 years, travel, and try new things. Cari was graduating from university and planning to take time from school before embarking on her next chapter. I mentioned that if she was interested, we could take our trip. She was interested and said let’s do an organized trip.
I shared the trip idea with my neighbour while on a walk and she told me about Wild Women Expeditions. Cari and I looked at the website and excitedly decided on Thailand in January 2023. We had almost a year to anticipate the trip. As the time grew closer. Cari and I decided that we would travel for six nights together after the trip and then she would meet up with her friends and I would meet up with my husband.
Cari is uber fit. She has led canoe trips, taught spin classes, and does intense workouts at the gym. She is also 23. I do a little yoga, walk at the dog park, play the odd game of tennis, and cross-country ski from time to time. I was going to train, join a gym, walk up and down our one Winnipeg hill, etc. That never happened. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Cari and wondered if I would be able to do all the activities. (I was able to and am damn proud of it!)
As we embarked on the trip, I was very emotional. Jammed into a middle seat on a 16-hour flight, awake while Cari slept peacefully against the window, I watched movies that reinforced my emotions and the tears shed.
As a Social Worker who majored in group work—and as a person who has always thrived whenever I felt a sense of belonging to a community—you would think I would have anticipated the potential power of spending 11 nights with 11 like-minded women. What a gift! Laughing, sharing stories, while stimulating all our senses with the glory of Thailand filled me up. Nicknamed “The Kid”, as the youngest member of our group, Cari also thrived. When we were with the elephants in the jungle and our group came between the mother and adult daughter elephant, I felt moved to protect Cari, just like the Mama elephant. I love being Cari’s mother and friend. The ease with which we communicate and the love we share for one another reminds me of my relationship with my mother. It was noticed by others and made me feel proud. Her social and emotional intelligence, positive energy, sense of humour, confidence, and competence were great additions to the group. (In my unbiased opinion)
During Cari’s lifetime, she has had to grieve the loss of three aunties, my sister and two sisters in-law died of cancer. Cari and I are blessed with loving family and friends who have supported us through all our losses. I’m grateful to the Wild Women of Chiang Mai (as we named our WhatsApp group) who, for 11 intense and meaningful days, took on the role of surrogate aunties to Cari and became our friends.
As the neuroscience and therapy experts say: “we are harmed in relationships, and we are healed in relationships.”
Thank you to Wild Women Expeditions for making this journey possible!