Memo from Michael: Bittersweet Moments of Fatherhood

When my four daughters were genuinely little girls, every milestone was a new source of joy and pride. Now that they are young women, there’s still great pride as they reach new stages of emancipation, but joy isn’t really the right word. To be honest, it feels more like sadness invoking all the clichés ever uttered about the bittersweet moments of parents experiencing their kids growing up and moving away – emotionally, and often, physically.

Treasured moments, actually any moments at all, are sporadic and they are getting more rare (hence more valuable). So I seized with relish the opportunity to help (albeit by phone from Los Angeles) my daughter Samara get her first apartment in Manhattan.

Apartment hunting in New York City is very different than on the West Coast. It is a seller’s market even in this economy. Not only are people willing to live in tiny spaces slightly bigger than a walk-in closet, they are willing to pay astronomical prices for the privilege. Plus, they pay a real estate broker’s commission of 10-12% for a few hours’ work. Essentially, the agents pick apartments just beyond your stated price range and convey the “take-it-or-leave-it” terms of the lease.

Okay, I confess that my whining preoccupation with unpleasant facts of New York City living is a sub-conscious guise to distract me from the reality that my first baby girl will have her own apartment in the big city (it seemed so much less grown up when she was in a college dorm). In two months, she will share that apartment for the summer with my second baby girl, Abrielle, who is graduating in a month from high school and will be moving to New York in July as a prelude to her college commencement at the Pratt Institute. (You’d think there were no good colleges in Los Angeles for acting and film-making.)

I’m pretty sure my daughters have good values and good judgment, but this true independence can be intoxicating.

Do I worry whether they will ignore my prohibition of tattoos and body piercings?  Of course I do.

Do I worry whether they will stay alcohol and drug free? Sadly, I do.

Do I worry they will get involved in pain-causing relationships with creeps. You bet!

Do I worry that I will see them less and less? How could I not?

Do I think my worry will help me or change them? No, I’m not an idiot. I’m just an irrational father in the waning years of Daddyhood.

Comments 5

  1. Amen. Been there! I grieved when every one of my three children left home. If I’d had my way, they’d still be living in my basement.

    But as a wise man once said, the two enduring things you can give your children are roots and wings. The time comes when they must fly, as we did, and all you can do is wish them well. In time, you come to realize that it’s more than enough.

    1. @Corwin. By the way, the roots and wings quote comes from an old friend, Hodding Carter Jr.a journalist who also worked in politics for quite awhile. It is one of my favorite quotes as well. Thanks for your thoughts

  2. My close relationship with my son growing up was brought to my attention when he was only 18 months old=- my friend said- “You do realize the hardest day of your life will be when he leves for college…” Now, in the blink of an eye-that day is here- he leaves in 6 weeks- and I swell wth emotion knowing we will not be together much. But know that my love and pride will always be with him as he follows his dreams. Of course I will worry- and I know he will make mistakes, but I know he will do well in the long run- and survive unscathed. Now, we have texting, skpe and e mail- to make it less hard- …next year my daughter— can I do it all again?

  3. I am so glad I am not there yet. I have two children under 10. Will cherish every minute of every day I ahve with them, even the unpleasant, “tough love” moments.

    Thank you for “blazing the trail” for me.

  4. Dear Michael,
    I sure can relate to your feelings about the waning years of “daddyhood”. I have 3 children, one now is in his 40’s, my older daughter is a freshman in college, my youngest daughter (now 14) and coincidentally enough she’s an 8th grader at Archer, so I have a few years left of “daddyhood” and I’m going to make the most of them. Everybody always says to hug your kids as much as you can, because before you know it – they won’t be so “huggable”. It’s so true about the year’s going fast! It doesn’t seem that way, as you go through them, but looking back at their childhoods it seems like it was just a “short moment in time”.

    Keep up your good works!

    Earl Goldberg

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