Introducing Parent of Adults
A newsletter about life after the kids move out by the author of PARENT HACKS
Thank you for meeting me on the ground floor of this not-yet-built place! Funny how I think of this newsletter as a place we’re meeting rather than a thing I’m doing. That’s how this first issue feels — like a welcome into a new place for both of us.
*motions you inside, pours coffee*
There’s a reason I titled this newsletter Parent of Adults and not Parenting Adults. It’s not that we stop parenting once our kids move out. But after much flailing and confusion, I came to realize that what I can best offer you — what I most need myself — isn’t parenting advice. It’s company. Stories. Conversations about this family juncture.
Like, “this happened, and huh, it made me think that which kind of helped. What about you?”
Or, “I didn’t expect this to happen. Am I the only one?”
Or, “This made me chuckle and I got to put down the burdens of the world for a moment. Maybe you, too?”
(This is pretty much the same impulse that prompted me to start the Parent Hacks blog in 2005.)
I call Parent of Adults a newsletter, but really it’s a series of conversational jumping-off points.
I’ll share thoughts and stories from my life as the parent of adults. If what I write sheds light on your life and you want to say something, leave a comment.
In my experience, the comments are where the real gems emerge. The heart of this newsletter will be in what comes out of our conversations. Generous back-and-forth among thoughtful folks tends to generate sturdier, more flexible wisdom because it moves us beyond my particular collection of blind spots. It’s definitely more fun.
Flexible wisdom! More fun! Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Of course, unlike me, not everyone wants to talk about everything all the time. Sometimes you just want to sit back, unfasten any restrictive articles of clothing, and listen to other people talk. Which is cool! The very act of our gathering in this Internet cul-de-sac is a comfort. I already feel more relaxed here than I do on Facebook.
We’ve all chosen to be here, and there are no algorithms messing with our minds. It’s a great place to start.
The pull toward story had been building for some time but (ironically) I couldn’t find a way to describe it till now.
Almost seven months ago, before the idea for this newsletter was, as my mom likes to say, “a twinkle in your father’s eye,” I shared this in on Instagram:
About three months later, I tweeted this:
A couple months after that I tweeted this:
Then this, in reaction to Rosalie Knecht’s essay on Literary Hub, Repetition Ruins a Narrative: On Trying to Create Amid the Sameness of Pandemic Parenting:
I was picking up signals about the direction I wanted my writing to go but I still had no idea what form it should take. I journaled and read and ruminated and took writing workshops and listened to podcasts and blurted half-formed thoughts to a couple friends, but mostly I focused on non-writing…
…and then the idea for this newsletter hit me. Within a few weeks, I signed up for a Substack account, built out the back end, and now here we are.
Of course, that makes it all sound easier and more straightforward than it actually was. But the path always seems clearer when you look back on it. What matters most, I think, is that we’re here now, ready to look ahead.
In her musing on what makes great art, Maria Popova said something that struck me as so true it’s been ringing in my head ever since:
“All art is self-help.”
Here’s a longer excerpt for context (but I recommend reading the whole post at The Marginalian):
Here is the great hoax of culture: If you are a musician with legions of fans, if you are an artist with legions of collectors and admirers, if you are a writer with legions of readers and subscribers, it is not because legions of strangers have impartially esteemed you as a staggering creative genius. It is because what you make is making the lives of legions of strangers more livable for them — nourishing some malnourished part of them, helping them commune with some alienated part of themselves, mirroring and magnifying and clarifying their own experience.
In this regard, all art is self-help and all art is service.
In other words, your presence here helps “mirror and magnify and clarify my own experience” as much as I hope this newsletter will help you. Let’s see where this takes us.
You may be thinking, “wait a minute, what’s all this about art?! I’m just here for the stuff about being the parent of grown humans!”
Okay, fine, we don’t have to think about what we’re doing here as art. I did warn you that I’m unabashedly philosophical. But I also said I wouldn’t dwell in the depths all the time! So I’ll close with two things: an extremely adorable picture of my son hiking with me on a very hot day in Southwestern Oregon, and a promise that the next post will be on the lighter side.
(I make no guarantees about the post after that.)
Thanks for reading. Subscribe to receive the next issue of Parent of Adults in your inbox.