Wild Child: A Road Trip Story

Pretty in Pink (and in red).
Kenosha, WI. 2019.

There are Momma’s Boys, Momma’s Girls, and there’s me. I’m such a Momma’s Girl that I’ve not only inherited each freckle, her unmistakable cackle, and her moderate-to-severe obsession with Taco Bell; I’ve also found that I’ve unknowingly accepted many of her opinions as sheer fact.

Cut to me educating all of my 3rd grade peers that Michelle Pfeiffer is the World’s Most Beautiful Woman, and that Julie Andrews has the World’s Loveliest Voice. Since the very beginning, she’s been my North Star. And, why wouldn’t she be? She’s a f*cking scientist.

On the return from a recent family road trip to the Wisconsin Dells, she offered a glimpse into her unique trials and tribulations throughout some of the greatest decades known to man. Every one of us can benefit from her ability to self-reflect; offering grace, wisdom, and true love to the versions of us that need it most.

1970s. As a young woman living in a working-class subdivision in Cincinnati, Theresa preoccupied herself with all things music. She quickly bred an affinity for soft-rock, folk, and disco. As an introverted, all-girls Catholic School teen council member; these genres provided the perfect excuse to sneak away to simply dance. To this day, the Bee Gees invite her to move something fierce.

1980s. As many headlines corroborate, this decade arrived and departed in a staggering blur. However, in this case, the Halley’s comet effect wasn’t substance related. This decade was marked with painful losses and tremendous growth. She struggled with the passing of both of her parents, the excitement of her first college experience, and the establishment of her very own family. Marrying a man fresh out of the seminary, she was surrounded by lifelong friends and family of the Catholic Church.

With only a brief moment to explore her truest self during her stint in college in Berea, KY – Theresa soon found herself transitioning to the role of a new wife, new mother, and snazzy Tupperware saleswoman. She explains that the highlight of this decade was fostering a relationship with her first-born, “Julie was the sweetest little girl, with such personality”.

1990s. The early years were marked by a marriage marred by long-distance, her desire to extract herself from the Church, and her comparative closeness with her daughter. Upon relocating to Illinois, her family grew by one more (hello, world!), and the ante was up.

The years that followed were clouded by many not-so-sweet things: a nasty divorce, an introduction to single parenthood, and the reintroduction of poverty. However, she spotted a silver lining on the storm-front.

“Before we sold the house, we lived near a Laffy Taffy factory in Bloomington-Normal. Morning walks smelled like sweet blueberries. Those moments alone with my daughters were so special.”

Theresa Farrell. Road Trip Insights. 2019.

As the sole provider for her family of three, Theresa knew she must complete her degree. She enrolled in Illinois State University, quickly inviting an era of F.U.N! While balancing the coursework, multiple jobs, and rearing young children was anything but easy; she kept us surrounded by the most wonderful professors, friends, and friends that became family. We will always cherish the Shakespeare festivals, traditional movie theater showings, and superstore sample-tastings alike.

2000s. America as the collective can agree that this decade invited some special panic into our lives. For Theresa, she also had the added stress of being ushered back into the world of the working poor. For the first time, she felt completely transplanted and unsafe, scrambling to make a home out of the unfamiliar Chicagoland area.

The dating scene was chock-full of Coffee Shop Creeps, and that led her to hang-on to dead-end relationships for dear life (not you, DT). This basic lack of safety, security, and familiarity also supported the inception of toxic friendships that assisted in the development of a severe wine habit.

Since Then. As the gloomy 2000s faded away, Theresa decided that she had an opportunity to ‘End the Cycle’. Just like she fiercely abolished a family tradition of limited formal education, she decided to overcome the generational tradition of addiction.

She replaced alcohol with an opportunity to get to know herself again. She embraced a new religion of compassion and understanding. What she found was rather worth the squeeze; she’s a loving grandma, a supportive mother, a mindful meditator, a determined 5K-er, and a successful businesswoman. Instead of forcing an age-old story to fit, she created a new mold.

Theresa insists that joy lies in the balance of living in a present manner, sharing loving moments with family, problem solving at work, exercising with friends, and laughing endlessly. Oh, I should add this… she also insists that joy does not lie at the bottom of a box of hair dye (or beyond your next tattoo appointment). Sorry, mom.

I’m so lucky that my mom and I share such a close bond. Admire, appreciate, and respect your mommas while you can. And for your friends that embark on their journeys without their mommas alongside; cheer them on a little extra and hug them a little tighter. Be the change you wish to see.

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

The Princess Bride. 1987.