A couple weeks ago, I felt inspired to write about my Uncle John and the adventures that we went on when I was younger. This week, I decided to write about another familial relationship, using a topic I’ve had in my blog archive for a while. I wanted to share about being besties with my parents.
Being an only child, I was around my parents and their friends a lot growing up. My dad and I loved playing golf video games and going shopping together. My mom and I bowled and went to our respective bowling leagues together.
As an extrovert who constantly loved being near people, my elementary and middle school friends would come over to my house pretty frequently, so they got to know my parents as well. My parents have watched all of us grow up. Many of my childhood friends even have inside jokes with them. In high school, on the other hand, I didn’t have many friends, so I hung out with my parents even more. Whether we were going out or having a night in just watching TV, we were usually together. Hanging out with my parents just never seemed weird to me.
All of that being said, I was ill-prepared for how much I would miss my parents when I went away to college. Blinded by the promise of new experiences and new friends, I was counting down the days until I moved onto the Dickinson campus.
Then the day came, and I panicked…
I distinctly remember having a breakdown in a bathroom stall a couple hours before my parents left me to be alone on campus. The entirety of my freshman year of college was one of my top 3 breakdowns about a change that I’ve had in my life.
It wasn’t until my college experience that I fully understood how close I was with my parents. Once I was out of the house and living with people who I had never met before, I realized a couple of things: my parents are two of my best friends, and I am not as funny as I think I am.
Being raised by and hanging out with my parents means that I have largely adopted their sense of humor. We crack each other up (and roll our eyes at each other) on the regular. As it turns out, not everyone has my parent’s sense of humor, however, and in the company of others, a lot of my jokes went from “mic drop” to “I’ll see myself out now.”
Don’t get me wrong, not all of my jokes were total flops, but there were several jokes that I know would’ve been zingers at home that were met with deafening silence on campus. As someone who’s entire identity is self-deprecation and humor, it threw me off to not be considered the funniest (albeit quirkiest) person in the room. I was just so used to living in a place where everyone had my sense of humor. When I got on the phone or FaceTime with my parents while on campus, I felt like I was finally understood. We laughed together and chatted about our mutual interests…like best friends do. It felt like I was home when I was talking to both of them, like we were just chatting in the living room watching TV. I struggled every time I returned to campus after a break, not wanting to go back to a place where I wasn’t understood.
When I graduated from college and returned home, we fell right back into living and hanging out together. I began working at the same company as my dad, so not only did we see each other at home, we also got lunch together during the workday. If dad had errands to run during lunch, I would tag along. Sometimes my work colleagues would sit with us during lunch, and I would introduce them to my dad. Just like when I was younger, my friends would meet and get to know my parents. It just wasn’t weird to me!
Additionally, since I’m a homebody who would prefer to be on the couch than be out and about, my parents also met my partners quickly. You know how “meeting the parents” is supposed to be a huge step in a relationship? It was never like that for me because I just invited my partners to hang out at my house, and if my parents were here, they would chat. There wasn’t usually some large, scary step…we would just hang out, and they’d see me interact with my parents, so they would, too!
For years, I’ve had several people in my life find it surprising that Dan and I hang out with my parents fairly frequently. While Dan and I have done 27 escape rooms total, we’ve done about half of those with my parents. We go out to dinner with them regularly and even all do axe league together. I’ve lived with my parents for my entire life (besides the years I was away at college) and now Dan lives with us as well. Since my parents met Dan before any of my friends and Dan and I live with my parents, my parents were our first “couples friends.” Also my parents actually go out and do things, so they’re sometimes the only reason that we get out of the house! Because we live with them, it’s just a natural impulse for us to invite each other along. Whenever my parents or Dan and I have a fun group activity going on, we extend an invite. We’ve gone to countless bowling nights, pub trivias, and concerts together.
Last summer, when I decided that I needed to do something social for my mental health, I brought up the axe league to my dad. He and I started going to axe league together and enjoyed the opportunity to spend more time together. The following season, my mom and Dan signed up with us. It quickly became a weekly ritual that we all enjoy.
As I’ve aged, my relationship with my parents has obviously evolved. We’ve always hung out and gone on family vacations together. When they took me touring colleges, they helped me decide which to apply to and attend. When applying to jobs, they advised me on how to make decisions on which direction to go with my career. Nowadays, we talk about anything and everything. We discuss many of our concerns and fears, and we celebrate our victories together. At the beginning of COVID, dad and I were working from home and always swapping work stories. I made him oatmeal every morning, and my parents and I walked around the block together weekly. We relished the opportunity to spend more time together and share our lives for more than just a few minutes before bedtime.
Now, they’re still the first people that I invite when there’s a trivia night coming up or Dan and I want to go to an escape room. They’re a couple of my first calls when there’s something to celebrate or I need advice about something. We enjoy spending time together and share similar senses of humor. To this day, I find it shocking that I didn’t realize that we were best friends until I left for college. My parents are my ride-or-die…even if they don’t know what that means.