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.

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