Philadelphia, PA

When My Adult Son Changed His Life, He Also Changed Mine

Roz Warren

When my only child moved to California, I was not thrilled. One of the reasons my former husband and I settled in the Philadelphia area was that so many people who were raised here remain here.

I know people whose kids go to the same elementary school they did. Some even had a few of the same teachers.

Because I love it here, I assumed that when Tom grew up, he’d stick around. But Tom had other ideas. After graduating from Johns Hopkins, he and his wife Amy left Baltimore to pursue their California dream.

You can’t blame them for leaving Baltimore. When he lived there I worried about them every day.

“Your son lives in Charm City?“ people would ask. “Have you watched The Wire?”

“Are you kidding me?” I’d reply. “I’ll watch it after he moves. Maybe.”I’ve always prided myself on raising a son who was strong and independent. And this was the result. Maybe I should have encouraged him to be a little needier? To want to stay closer to mom?

I don’t think so. I have friends whose kids finished college and moved right back home. A few are still living in their childhood bedrooms, trying to figure out what to do with their lives.

I’m proud of the fact that my son is happily married and thriving.

Still, the move to California made me blue. My kid now lived about as far away from his mother as he could and still stay on the continental US. It could be worse, I told myself. I had friends whose grown kids lived in Paris. Australia. Israel.

Still? To quote Luke Skywalker, I had a bad feeling about this.

Eight years later? I‘m singing a different tune.

When Tom relocated, I joked that he left me no choice but to squander his inheritance on flying out to visit as often as I could.

“Go ahead,” he said. “Visit whenever you want. You’re always welcome.”

I took him up on it. And learned that Tom was right. The Bay Area is a really cool place. It’s great to see your kid happy and doing well. Tom belongs there. I realized that I needed to adjust to that. And I have.

And I’m loving it! Pre-pandemic, I visited all the time and really got to know my way around. Muir Woods. Mill Valley. Golden Gate Park. Indy bookstores. Friendly people. Great weather. Terrific food. No pollution. The ocean!

It’s paradise, all right. I’ve grown to share my son and daughter-in-law’s love of the Bay area. And I love being able to jet off to California during the bleakest months of the year.

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m well on my way to becoming bi-coastal. Especially now that I have grandchildren.

I was blue when my son moved to California. Now I’m thankful.

You don’t have kids so that your life won’t change. Just the opposite. Having a kid opens your heart — and your life — right up. And if you’re lucky, that never really stops.

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Roz Warren, the author of JUST ANOTHER DAY AT YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY, has appeared on both the Today Show and Morning Edition, writes for everyone from the Funny Times to the New York Times, and has been included in 13 Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. Drop her a line at

Bala Cynwyd, PA

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