Missing Parent Blues
when a parent moves away
JANE SANDERS ILLUSTRATION
New Orleans isn’t for everyone. Even when I’m at my happiest here – on an 80-degree day in January drinking a perfect iced coffee, eating a roast beef poor boy with gravy dripping down to my elbows, sipping a cocktail in the park in early spring or laughing at raunchy Krewe du Vieux floats from a friend’s balcony – even then, I get that it isn’t for everybody.
Yes, we hear a lot of “came here for Jazz Fest and never left” stories, but we have to acknowledge that there are also a lot of people who came here for Jazz Fest and left thinking the city was filthy or who (as happened to me and a group of college friends I brought home for Jazz Fest) got robbed at gunpoint, or who can’t understand why anyone would voluntarily live in a swamp or would move back after Katrina.
I respect that. I don’t know how I would feel about New Orleans if it weren’t my home; like someone growing up in a dysfunctional family, I don’t really know any different. But this is home. This is my city. This is where I’m going to live, God willing and the river don’t rise.
My ex-husband never liked New Orleans. He didn’t like it when we first came here in the summer of 1999, and he liked it even less after the whole robbery thing. Nonetheless, we’d made a deal that I could pick where we moved after we were finished school, and so we moved here.
He never thought of New Orleans as home and found it difficult to live here, both socially and financially, particularly after we divorced in 2010, and last year, he finally moved back to his home in St. Louis. I am happy for him. I know the thrill of being back in familiar surroundings, back among childhood friends, back where you know all the shortcuts and the private jokes.
But Ruby has struggled. This past week was rougher than normal as she had Donuts with Dad (my husband went, of course, but it wasn’t quite the same) followed by cheerleading at the homecoming game – she really wanted him to see her be the flier on the pyramid.
She decided she’d feel better if she could write about it and asked if she could tell kids whose parents have moved away 10 things they should know.
10 Things You Should Know If Your Parent Has Moved Away
By Ruby Crawford
1. Either your mom or dad will always love you, even when they’re living in a different place.
2. It’s just as hard for them as it is for you. Trust me.
3. One thing almost all parents do is be glad that they still have you, just not in their house.
4. Life is like a hill. There are some ups and some downs. And even though you’re going through a downhill into a valley, somehow it seems to turn around. Even if you’re bummed.
5. It gets better over time, no matter what you think when it’s happening. I remember thinking as hard as it was when my dad first moved away, that’s how hard it was going to be forever. But just like my mom told me, it got better and was probably better in like three months. I still miss him a lot, but I feel a lot better.
6. Sometimes you may feel like they don’t love you, but that’s not true at all. Sometimes they move for the better. If they stayed, they might be living an even worse life, and most kids want what’s better for their parents.
7. Hopefully, they still get to see you. From time to time, you learn how to make your time together count. When my dad came to visit, he came to lunch at my school and met all my friends.
8. If your parent moved out of the state and doesn’t have a nighttime job, you can FaceTime with them to do your homework. That always made me feel better.
9. If your parent lives in another state, you might have flown on a plane by yourself. I know it’s scary the first time. You might feel abandoned, but as you fly more times, you get used to the feeling and hopefully you’ll make some new friends. I know I did.
10. You might be the only one in your class without their dad or mom or the only one in your grade or the only one in your school, and sometimes you might feel like you’re the only kid in the world. But you’re not. I used to think I was the only one in the world for about two weeks. Then I bumped into a few kids whose parents also lived out of state. But they got through it just like me. And there’s really nothing you can do about it. Kids can’t fix it. There might be kids out there who could. It might even be you. You can try, but if you try and you fail, it isn’t your fault.