I am a lucky girl. I have a mother and a father who are alive and healthy, vibrant and independent, and relate to me as an evolving individual. They live in Brooklyn, in the same house where I spent much of my childhood. They are New Yorkers, and so am I.
I’m also an anomaly. Most of my friends and colleagues are not from here. They’ve come to New York City to follow their dreams, create opportunities, or a fresh start. New York is their chosen home, but not their hometown. Therefore their day-to-day, proximity-filled parent-child relationship stopped as soon as they boarded the plane to JFK Airport over 10 or 20 years ago.
It’s a shame.
Believe me, I fully support building a family in New York City. Some of the most interesting, sane, and grounded folks I know grew up in the city (wink, wink). Still, something is lost by building your family here, a car (or plane) ride away from your parents and your hometown. The adult parent-child relationship can become strained, spotty or lost altogether.
How can we understand ourselves, our ability to be compassionate, or be flawed if we don’t see ourselves reflected in our own parents? Sure, they make you nuts. They just don’t understand. But they are most likely the root causes for all of your learned reactions in this world. You grow up, and so do they. As your life becomes more complex, rich and vulnerable all at the same time, they in turn remember their strength. Adulthood is no easier than childhood, and every adult can use an extra parent around.
What do you do if your parents live far, far away? Try the next best thing: pick up the phone on a day when it’s not one of their birthdays, not Mother’s or Father’s Day, nor a national holiday. Instead, call on a Tuesday evening for the only purpose of sharing a few moments together. But if you’re really jonesing for some in-person parent time, you can borrow mine. They’re always free for parenting duties.