Wisdom from my daughter

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

“The Mountain Goat is not really a goat.” Somewhere in Massachusetts I read those words to my daughter, initiating one of the funniest and, perhaps, most fascinating conversations I’ve ever had with her.
We were hurtling down the Mass Pike at the time, on one of our mother-daughter road trips. These eight-hour trips have become a wonderful byproduct of her attending college many states away. We’ve had some great conversations. Some very serious, but most very, very funny. At times giddy; the giddiest are on the way home from a long semester after a very-low or no-sleep night for my daughter.

On this particular road trip our conversations had already ranged from the critical: the location of the nearest rest stop (we always talk about this oftensince copious amounts of caffeine, in many liquid forms, are consumed on every trip), why it’s against the mother-daughter code of road trip conduct to ever listen to an Adele song, how to prepare yourself for a rear-impact car accident, how to choreograph a car dance to Kelly Clarkson’s Catch My Breath, why Adam Levine was literally like the third passenger in our car, and why literally and trilla-anything (think trillasecond) are literally every other words out of either of our literal mouths.

To the more mundane: the classes she’s taking next semester (hey, I’m not a bad mom, she’s a senior in her last semester, so she’s got this nailed), a recap of our favorite holiday memories, the kind of suitcase she needs to replace the one that broke as we loaded it into the car, and reminisces of past road trips. It was a long trip, okay?

But then we got to the Mountain Goats, and like I said, it was one of my favorite ever. Turns out, like I read out loud in that NPR article, 12 Half-Truths we Live With, the Mountain Goat is not really or literally a goat. The ensuing conversation had nothing at all to do with the validity of the statement—it was not even a point of discussion—we both readily accepted it as a fact. (Although we did read the associated link explaining why the Mountain goat isn’t really a goat.)

Here’s where it gets interesting, though. Turns out (unbeknownst to me after being her mother for over 21 years), my daughter (her words): “is obsessed with how mountain goats give birth.” Literally.

I was laughing so hard when she told me just that, so I asked if I could please record the rest of her rant for posterity (and to blog about), and she agreed; thank goodness for the iPhone! She answered an emphatic “no,” however, when I asked if I could include the recording in my post, but she did agree that I could transcribe it, and here it is, literally word for word (she was driving at the time):

“…I’m concerned about the Mountain Goats giving birth because they’re just going to…I’m afraid they’re going to…what are they called, kids? Are they still called kids even though they aren’t related to goats? I’m afraid the kids are going to go shooting out of their uteruses and off the mountain. Because where on earth are they going to give birth? Have you seen pictures of where the Mountain Goats live? It’s like on these jagged edges. There’s literally nowhere to give birth to these Mountain Goats. And then what do they eat? Lichen is not very hearty or healthy, and there’s absolutely nothing except for snow, and you can’t live off of that. And also they’re just going to be toppling. How on earth can they stay balanced? They just can’t, and I think they are just too dumb to realize the imminent risk they’re in. That’s my analysis of everything… And when they fight? Oh my God. They ram their friggin’ heads into each other, and they just shoot the other one off the mountain. It’s so gruesome. It’s weird. I just get concerned.”

There. Now you know, too, why my daughter is obsessed with Mountain Goats. And neither you, nor I, would ever have known if it weren’t for that road trip. Sadly there are some things a mother just can’t make right, and this is one of them. All I could do was listen, laugh harder than I have in a long time, and do an Internet search on how Mountain Goats give birth—turns out they go “into cliffs,” as one article said, to which my daughter replied:

“That article was literally written by a fifth grader. How can you go intoa cliff?”

If there’s a takeaway, it’s this: start early taking road trips with your daughters and/or sons. There’s nothing better. You learn a lot from them and not just about Mountain Goats, take my word for it.



  1. Julie Luek says:

    What’s really funny about this is we just passed mountain goats (which I now know are not really goats at all) on Saturday. A small little herd…cluster…group of them with a couple big curly-horned rams. Tell your daughter that now I too will be worried about their youngins’ getting butted off slippery slopes.

    • Really? I will pass your sighting along to my daughter — and I’ll let her know her willingness to share has alerted at least one other person to the need for fretting about the Mountain Goat tots (kids?) 🙂

  2. Oh my…this had me laughing!(Literally) Hilarious, Julia. And you have gotten to be such a good writer. You weren’t bad to begin with, but now, just stellar.
    I’m taking a road trip with one of my kids asap.:)

    • Cynthia, you just made my day… yes, literally. Thank you so much for your very kind comment; I’ll definitely pass it along to my daughter, too. And do take that road trip and let us know how it goes 🙂

  3. Oh my God… how hilarious… I think the comment that made me wheeze the loudest was “That article was literally written by a fifth grader. How can you go into a cliff?” LITERALLY had me in tears. Thanks for sharing your fun road trip memories with us. I’ll share some goat stories with you sometime too ;-).

    • Glad you enjoyed it! I wish I could post the sound bite, Melissa, you would hear me laughing SO hard because a lot of the humor was in the way she talked so passionately about it. Neither of us could stop laughing about it. Yes, that comment about the article (and the article itself) was priceless 😀 Can’t wait to hear your “goat” stories!

  4. Love it!!

  5. Aren’t road trips the best?
    I usually take most of my road trips with Reggie. Unfortunately, he’s not as chatty or informative as your daughter. He had no idea that mountain goats weren’t goats. (When I told him about the precarious birthing conditions, though, he did seem very concerned.)

    Here’s to many more fun road trips!

    • Yes, road trips are the best (and I remember when you talked about Reggie being your road trip partner… loved the pic!). Please tell Reggie that I had no idea about the goats, either! As for the precarious birthing conditions, who wouldn’t be concerned? I mean, when you stop to think about it, YIKES!

  6. I love reading this, Julia; it makes me look forward to the future, when my daughter can talk. But the thing I love the absolute most is that it reveals you and your daughter’s wonderful companionship, and your love for her. It really is a standard I want to reach! 🙂

    • 🙂 Yes, Jolina, we have a wonderful companionship, and she’s the best. We have a lot of fun and a lot of love. Thank you for such a high compliment — you will absolutely reach it some day (in your baby girl’s way you already have!).

  7. Jen says:

    Julia, this is great! I hope my daughter and I have all these great memories to share with each other. I’ve already worried (just a little bit) about what our relationship will be like when she’s a teenager (because don’t girls and their moms often clash around that time?). I know your daughter is older, but it’s still nice to hear you’re so close.

    On another note, congrats on being named a Twitter Feed to Watch. That’s awesome!

    • I worried for years (okay, I still do) about those very things, Jen. My daughter and I got along beautifully even when she was a teenager. That’s not to say there were no bumps (of course there are bumps in every relationship!), but my daughter is one of the most loving young women I’ve ever met, not to mention wise beyond her years and definitely not just about goats. You’ll get there, too, with your daughter. It’s a piece at a time and happens before you know it! (thanks so much for the congrats, too!)

  8. Erika Marks says:

    How wonderful you are to share some of that precious journey with us. I know well how those trips are your most treasured time, and no wonder! Communication is everything, isn’t it?

    Hope you’re staying warm, my friend!

    • The trips are literally the best 🙂 Yes, communication — especially the listening part — is everything. And every trillasecond treasured.

      As for staying warm? No. I’ve surrendered to the cold, bearing it in just one fleece. Ugh.

  9. I’m curious about the prohibition of Adele songs on mother-daughter road trips. I’ll have to think about that one to see if I can figure it out.

    My road trip buddy is not the least bit concerned about goats (or non-goats) except for the possibility that they might need to be herded at some point. She’s also not a great conversationalist. She is good company, though, so I can’t imagine a long car ride without her.

    Delightful post! What a lovely relationship you two have.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Shary. I think you and Jackie have similar road trip buddies… silent but great company! We do have a lot of fun, my daughter and I, and thank you for saying we have a lovely relationship.

      p.s. As for the prohibition of Adele songs, it all boils down to a simple matter of taste…and one of the major rules of our road trips: mom has zero radio control 🙂

  10. JM Merchant says:

    I literally love road-trips with my Dad, literally the only quality time we get together because it’s literally the only time I can get him away from the computer and literally without my sister… ok I’ll stop now.

    Literally (sorry) love the idea of a road-trip CoC, it’s fun to see what other peoples pet peeves are when driving. And I think your daughter made some very valid points about those mountain goats 🙂

    • I literally love your comment and you have an honorary membership in the literally trillions club 🙂 That means you are invited along on one of our road trips next time you’re in the US, Jo!! We’ll fill you in on the whole book of CoC so you can feel right at home!

  11. This was great Julia. So glad that your excursions with your daughter are so much fun. My son and I do travel and I enjoy being in the car with him. (Not sure the same can be said for him or me.) Not to have a pity-party, but he does spend a lot of the time when he’s not driving — asleep or with his earbuds in. RE goats: I would think there are lots of nooks and crannies for a mama Mountain Goat to birth her kids. I would more worry about them stumbling down the cliff as they hobble about learning to walk. Good grief. I guess they must have got it figured out because there always seems to be Mountain Goats where they should be.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Jamie! Dont’ be discouraged about the sleeping or earbuds, there are times that my daughter sleeps or does homework in the car and/or is too busy to talk… so I know what you mean. It’s all about timing and patience, as is about 99 percent of life as far as I can figure out 🙂

      As for the Mountain Goats, you make a good point! I’ll pass your observations along to my daughter! It occurs to me that those mamas have their own conversations with those babies, as we do with ours!

  12. Love this – you’ve given me a reason to sort of hope one of my children goes to college a long drive away!

    • Glad you enjoyed it Jess… and we do have a lot of fun, but never so much that the long drive is something to hope for! You’re lucky you’ve got a long time before you have to worry about it!

  13. Aww, so funny and so sweet. Bless your dort for caring so much xo

  14. How is it that I was not in the backseat for all this hilarity? Classic, classic stuff! And I totally agree. Road trips are all about parent/child/friend bonding.

  15. Barb Riley says:

    😀 I love to hear about your fun times on road trips with your daughter. Laughter is sooooo good for the soul! And what IS it about the car, anyway? Maybe b/c we’re facing forward and don’t have to look at each other, it’s easier to talk (somehow? lol I don’t know…) Nonetheless, my teenage daughter and I have had some of our best talks in the car! It’s where I first told her about the birds and the bees :O years ago. And one time when we were in a haaauuge mother/daughter disagreement, we ended up with a beautiful impromptu let’s-hash-this-out session on a car ride. In fact, the ride itself should have only taken 30 minutes, but we got so deep into our conversation my daughter urged me to keep driving so I did—and ended up circling our town (and then some) for another hour and a half! The gas used on that drive was the BEST investment ever, as we def. reached a new understanding after hearing each other out.

    I gotta say, I’m right there with your daughter about the goats! LOL She sounds like a chip off the old block with all of her questioning! <3

    • Barb… believe it or not I was JUST thinking about you as your comment came in… and not at all surprised that we both love the car rides with our daughters! We’ve done the same thing and kept on driving to keep talking; and a few times we took drives together expressly so we COULD talk. Yes, the gas was the best investment ever, I agree.

      P.S. Glad you see the POV about the goats 🙂 Yes, she is definitely a chip off teh old block. We do love our questions! xox

  16. Comingeast says:

    Of course this is hilarious, but more than that, I loved reading this because it is so wonderful for you two to have this special time together. Whatever will you do when she graduates?

    • I knew another empty nest mom would understand! And whatever WILL I do when she graduates? I’m wondering that very thing… I suppose we’ll need to plan a yearly mother-daughter road trip. Thanks for understanding, Susan!

  17. Lisa Ahn says:

    Oh my gosh — I’m late in reading, but this is one of my favorites in a long list of Julia-posts-I-adore. The transcription is priceless!!! I will now literally worry about the birth of baby Mountain Goats too!

  18. All good points, if I may say so.
    I love this.
    Thanks for the laugh.


  1. […] On June second my daughter graduates from college, and the next day we leave on an epic mother-daughter roadtrip across the country: from sea to shining sea. (If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you know that she and I have been making regular trips back and forth from Maine to Pennsylvania, where she’s been attending college. You can read about those trips here and here, where my daughter explains her worries about mountain goats.) […]