Dear Miranda Hobbs and Steve Brady,
I admit, it’s a little odd to write a letter of gratitude to two fictional characters. But this letter isn’t actually for you.
Yes, I have watched the first two episodes of “And Just Like That,” HBO’s new “Sex and the City” chapter that follows Carrie Bradshaw, Miranda Hobbs, and Charlotte York as they navigate their 50s. I’ll admit that I was even apprehensive, as a fan of the iconic original, to watch how the characters and their families have evolved since appearing in that Second Movie That Shall Not Be Named. Time will tell if I will ever ride a Peloton again.
This “thank you” is for the parents around the world who are like you — parents who are willing to open their home to their kids’ boyfriends and girlfriends.
The same parents who, when I was in high school, helped me.
In the new series, Miranda and Steve allow their now-high schooler, Brady, to invite his girlfriend to spend multiple nights in their home, and perhaps even to live with them full-time.
There are more than a few cringe-worthy moments. At one point, after a public make-out session, Brady tells his mom that the couple “won’t be sex shamed.” In the second episode, Miranda can hear her son and his girlfriend having a very loud romp in the sack — something that left even this sex-positive mom of two young boys shifting awkwardly in her seat.
But before I was a mom, I was a high schooler who relied on her boyfriend’s parents, too.
I spent more than a few nights at my friend-turned-boyfriend’s home, sleeping in his bed just down the hall from his parents. The nights I spent with them were often out of necessity — I’d quickly throw a few clothes and a toothbrush into my school backpack, send a string of manic texts, then show up at their front door frantic and overwhelmed.
I knew that there were rules I had to follow — help with chores, not spend an inordinate amount of time in the shower using up all the hot water, and do what I could, within reason and with my safety in mind, to get back home to my parents. I couldn’t stay forever, but I could stay as long as I needed and wanted.
And yes, from time to time, my boyfriend and I did have sex. We were not loud (another rule: “Be respectful enough to pretend we’re too dumb to know what you two are doing.”) and we knew that we had access to contraception and protection. I had multiple conversations with his mom about safety, teen pregnancy, and my worth — outside of and separate from the relationship I had with her son.
Staying at my boyfriend’s house wasn’t about nabbing a free pass to have all the consensual sex I wanted. It wasn’t about staying with the “cool parents” who allowed teens to have a cold beer with dinner. It wasn’t even about hurting my parents’ feelings.
Instead, it was about an opportunity to rely on another set of parents for comfort, safety, security, and guidance.
The proverbial village that’s supposed to help parents care for their children isn’t really for parents at all. Yes, us mothers and fathers, grandparents and caregivers all benefit from being in community with others — a fact made all the more obvious by the maternal mental health crisis and an ongoing global pandemic.
But our kids need other responsible and reliable adults in their lives in order to thrive — adults that can help guide them when they can’t or won’t follow their own parents’ beacons.
I had those adults in my life when I needed them, and their decision to have an “open house” policy kept me safe.
As viewers, we don’t know the circumstances surrounding Brady’s girlfriend and her living situation. But one thing is clear: She has access to a loving environment cultivated by parents who let two young people feel free to be themselves.
And for young people, feeling empowered to search for, find, and celebrate themselves can change the trajectory of their entire lives.
Will I handle my sons having comically loud sex with their partners in my own home as well as Miranda and Steve did? I can’t say, though I have a feeling the limit of my sex positivity will be tested.
But I do hope that when my sons are in the deep end of adolescent life, they’ll feel comfortable having their friends, girlfriends, or boyfriends over — for an afternoon, a day, overnight, or even longer. I hope that their friends, girlfriends, and boyfriends will feel as safe, comfortable, and respected in my home as I did in home of my high school boyfriend all those years ago.
And I hope that my fellow parents will rest easy knowing that if the saying is true, and it really does take a village to raise a child, they can feel confident including my home in their hamlet.