I Miss My Mom And Dad

I miss my mom and dad. If someone had told me that I would feel this way when I was 16-years-old, I would’ve laughed and said “Yeah right. My parents sort of suck…” and gone back to dyeing my hair purple or whatever other gay stuff I used to do when I was “straight.” Like most teenagers, I had a rocky relationship with my parents and with good reason. When I was fourteen, my father remarried and moved to Los Angeles to start a new family, which left me with a mother who, by all accounts, was quickly unraveling.

Countless honest conversations and one successful stint in rehab later, my parents and I finally found common ground with each other in my twenties. Now I’m sort of obsessed with them. I miss them all the time and I know for a fact that I call my father more than he calls me. It’s funny to think about how tumultuous the relationships used to be. I recall the things I used to say to them as a surly teenager and cringe. How could I be so cruel to the people who loved me the most? Then I remember that that’s how it usually works. You hurt the people you love the most because you can.

My family isn’t normal. Big surprise. What families are? But when I went away to college and was introduced to a diverse group of friends, I would hear stories about their upbringings and be horrified. As much as I felt like my parents had done a crappy job raising me, I couldn’t BELIEVE what some other people went through. I no longer had a right to complain. As flawed as I felt my parents were, they loved me to pieces. That’s something I assumed all parents felt for their children but after hearing about other people’s experiences, I became not so sure. Was it possible for a parent to not love their own child? Even today I don’t know the answer to this and it’s probably something I’ll never know. When it comes to other people’s families, you don’t have much insight into what is really going on behind closed doors.

During college I began to appreciate my parents more. Absence had certainly made my heart grow fonder and it’s only increased since I’ve graduated. In the past year or two, I’ve frequently felt “unsafe.” I don’t mean to say that I think someone is going to break into my apartment and kill me. Rather it’s a different kind of vulnerability, more subtle. I moved 3,000 miles away from my parents four years ago and I still miss them every single day. They’re the reason why I know I’ll eventually move back to California. I have guilt being in New York because what if my parents die prematurely and I’ve missed out on their last years? It sounds morbid but I think it’s something a lot of people feel, especially as they see their parents get older.

I’m going home to California for a month for the holidays and I can’t wait to just feel safe in my dad’s house and feel safe in my mom’s house and hug them and tell them how much I love them. Because I do. I love them very much. TC mark

image – ©iStockphoto.com/Abeleao

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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  • anonymous

    This moved me to tears. Thank you

  • Elizabeth Leong

    How is everyone on Thought Catalog writing what I’m feeling. And how is everyone a New York transplant from California, just like me?!

    • Blahblahblah

      woah no WAY?!??

  • Alex

    Refreshing and honest. Thanks, Ryan!

  • zlady6

    “I have guilt being in New York because what if my parents die
    prematurely and I’ve missed out on their last years? It sounds morbid
    but I think it’s something a lot of people feel, especially as they see
    their parents get older.”

    I’ve been feeling like this so much lately. Glad to know I’m not the only one. I really like this piece – thank you for writing it.

    • Linds Dist

      I moved 2,000 miles away from my parents after graduation. 7 months in, my father passed away.  Words can’t describe the loss I felt, the guilt I had for not being there, and the anger I had for thinking leaving home was a wise decision (that has since relinquished). But- he was proud of me and encouraged me to do what I needed to get what I wanted out of life. He always told me that I can’t hold myself back and be miserable, all so I can be there every year for a birthday, holiday or family game night.  Miles only separate you physically. It’s a frightening time, but it makes you stronger.

      I enjoyed this piece. Summed up a lot of thoughts I’ve had over the past few years.

  • tulpoeid

    Are you people serious? Get over unnecessary guilt. Live your life. Sad to see yet another couple of parents succeeding so well into planting guilt in their kid, making sure they never move on with their lives – all three of them. 

  • anon

    this is really sweet and i totally share the sentiment, but it’s stylistically way beneath you, ryan. you’re better than this!

  • Anonymous

    I know what you mean by “unsafe.” My boyfriend is my surrogate family on the east coast. Without him I would have an anxiety attack every morning.

  • jukie

    Ryan, you made my day.  As a parent, I can say we don’t want you to feel guilty. We are fine!   We want you to be happy, even if it means following your dream 3,000 miles away (in my case 1500).

  • Kay Natalie

    I loved this! ♥
    Exactly how I feel :)
     I sometimes think I’m being so morbid or whatever but when you move far away from your parents, you can’t help but feel that you are missing out on spending valuable time with  them before something happens! I don’t want to think about that/like that but can’t help it! 
    Somehow, this made me feel better. Thank you! :)

  • Pepper

    I love this. And my parents, too.

  • Anonymous

    Loved this. Sent it to my mom and she said it made her day. 

  • casey

    thanks so much ryan :)
    i often find myself reflecting on my behavior from high school and i too cringe at the brat i was–now my mom jokes that she’s happy i’ve become the person i am today and grew out of that phase. last night she even made a comment about how she knows i’m not THE prettiest girl in the world or THE most popular person–but in her eyes i am! its funny how things come full circle-one day we’re the brat mouthing off to our parents and the next we’re grown up, mature and sappy over how freaking awesome our parents are and how stupid we once acted. hindsight is 20:20, and while i still get mad at myself for stuff i might have said, i am also happy and proud that i have learned from that behavior and grown into a much more optimistic & mature individual :)

  • douchegirl

    Great piece. With age comes wisdom and I’ve realized at 23 that it’s true: My mother is ALWAYS right. 

  • Brandon h

    I don’t thi k bad parental relationships are as common as you think. People with awful relationships with their parents just tend to be more vocal about it IMHO. But I didn’t rebel and I grew up from infancy in a single parent home all the way through high school. It did make coming out a lot easier though, just one parent to tell (who already knew of course). So milage will very.

    I hear you on the fear of being away from them. I won’t leave the state I’m in for that very reason. What if something happens and I’m not there? I do sometimes long for crazy adventures in LA or San Francisco but my family has always been more important to me.

  • http://twitter.com/Nadiaaa87 Nadia

    Nice insight. Definitely cosign everything 100%. 

  • lianne

    very, very, very sweet.  I like the articles where you talk about your parents the most.

  • Lauren


  • Anonymous

    Thought this would be some nostalgic piece by some annoying privileged undergrad, longing for when mom and dad still bought her groceries and did her laundry. Disappointed! 

  • http://twitter.com/keithpinthecity Keith Pence

    My mother is one of the hard headed people I have ever encountered in my whole entire life.  She has only once apologized to me and I she has admitted that she was wrong (and I was right) one other time.  As much as I can’t stand being around her 95% of the time, as soon as I’m not with her anymore (i.e. which is pretty much always seeing as I live in NY and she lives in San Francisco), I can’t help but think about her and miss her.  I also can’t wait to be home in a month or so with my parents and siblings – although alcohol fueled fights are certainly going to happen. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=508371039 Rayan Khayat

    this is your best article, I think ever! <3

  • Jen

    I love your posts. Keep writing! This is exactly what I feel, but can’t express it as well as you!

  • mumsy

    I have been feeling such intense loneliness lately, missing my children  . Thank you Ryan luv U

  • Anonymous


  • butt parker

    Don’t you get sick of repeating yourself every week? I know I’m not the first person to comment on this. But really! I’m curious. I am not saying it’s your fault, it is clearly just part of your job description. im sure if you had more of a choice youd write about other stuff…and not publish things multiple times a day 6 days a week. 

  • Nick

    I’m pretty sure you already wrote this article.  Don’t feel like sifting through your back catalog of 200, 000, 000 articles to find it but I’m like 99% sure.

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