Why I’m Writing About Parenthood (the Show)

I’m going to write about a TV show and why I loved it. You might think it has nothing to do with what I write about, but I promise you, it does. It’s not often that you sit down to watch a family drama where you identify so intimately with the messy, and hard, and beautiful.

parenthood (the show)

Three generations portraying the challenges and joys of family. There were many story arcs of course, and some I identified with more than others (some I did not identify with at all). But it was on the very first episode when one of the characters (played by Peter Krause) says to his father, “there is something wrong with my son.” I knew right then this was a show I would be watching.

While my children do not have autism, that story line resonated with me as I parent two children with disabilities. I saw the loss, the grief over the diagnosis, the challenges of letting other people into your life in order to help your child, the agony, the many times when you wonder if you could do more. The grief you feel as a parent when your child is aware of their diagnosis and they don’t like it. The courage it takes to stand up for your child in certain situations, the agony of an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). The pride and joy you feel when they accomplish even the smallest things. I loved Cristina (played by Monica Potter) and she often said things I have felt as a special needs mom.

As an adoptive mom, I did the ugly cry as one of the characters (played by Erika Christensen) slumps to the floor, barely able to catch her breath because adoption is hard, and it wrecks you, and you are not sure how you can go on. She was me, that was me. I still cannot think of that scene without fighting back tears. It was heart wrenching to see how those experiences almost destroyed her marriage. And that is real, marriage is hard, and when you feel emotionally depleted, you can make choices that separate you from your spouse without realizing what is happening.

And there was the patriarch of the family (played by Craig T. Nelson) who affirmed, encouraged, and built up his children and grandchildren. Who made sure those he loved knew that he believed in them, that they had his stamp of approval. What a great legacy to leave behind. So often I thought, “I wish my father said that to me.”

Sure, their family was different than mine. They perhaps held different beliefs, and approached situations differently than I do. But the thing is, they reminded me that I am not alone, that some life experiences are shared by many of us.

My husband said at some point, “This is real ‘reality TV.'” And it was, it was real.

Life is messy. Life is hard. There are no guarantees and we all mess up sometimes, we hurt those we love most. But we also love hard, and deep, and we forgive and we give second chances. At least most of us want to live that way.

And life is also about celebration, and joy, and family.

What a gift a family can be.

And this is what I take from it:

I hope I take every opportunity I can to affirm my kids. That I let them know I am proud of them, that I believe in them. That even if they mess up my love is unconditional. I want them to know I’m their number one fan.

I hope that the bond with my siblings continues to grow. I wish we could do life together and live closer. I wish I could see my nephews and nieces grow and have my sisters over for a girl’s night out.

I hope that I always fight for my marriage.

I hope I always dream big and pursue those dreams with my family behind me, supporting me. And I hope I do that for them too.

And in the words of Bob Dylan, who’s song “Forever Young” was the theme song to the show:

May god bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you

May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every run
May you stay, forever young

May you stay forever young

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you

May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
And may you stay forever young

Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift

May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
And may you stay forever young

Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

So look at your family with the messy and hard, but focus on the beautiful and the love, cling to the good.

I know personally I thank God for my family, and this messy beautiful life I get to share with the people I love.

And thank you, Parenthood, for creating a show that so many of us could identify with.

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