“This Is Us” Makes Me a Better Parent



It’s a cult following. For me it started with Parenthood where I dreamed of having 4 kids (before I even had 1). That glorious and beautiful show ended in a bucketful of tears and a dream of naming a child Millie…but Millie’s a little too close to Ellie, the name of my oldest daughter.

Now, every week my heart is ripped to shreds and carefully sewn back together by a strong emotional recovery, all within 45 minutes. It’s simply the best show I’ve ever been a part of. (Sorry not sorry, Parenthood). 

I have a big problem becoming emotionally attached to shows. Like so many of you, This Is Us has captured my heart. There are absolutely no characters I dislike (a rarity!).  I see myself in the shoes of the mother (minus the whole triplets thing) and the eyes of the daughter, and I relate to the expectations of the sons. If you’re with me, I think we can all agree “This Is Us” makes me a better parent. 

This is…a New Perspective

Becoming a Mother really made me put a magnifying lens to my formative years. How will I do things differently? What will I do similarly? Watching Rebecca struggle to deal with Kate’s weight as a child and then misunderstand her as an adult makes me pause and analyze my own life. Growing up, I see so many struggles that were never addressed, that I still sort through and deal with today.

I could cast blame, but I can see through the Pearsons’ story and my own real life how much of a learning role parenting is. There is NO manual. There is only today. We do our best, we sometimes need to say “I’m sorry,” and we pray for tomorrow. During almost every episode there is a moment when I cry or cheer with Rebecca as she watches Kate get picked on, Randall find community, and Kevin struggle to find a relationship with his brother. These moments would have passed me by before becoming a parent. Now I see each character as a piece of her heart out there walking around in the big world, as she tries to save them from any harm.

This is…a Sibling Bond

The complex web of relationships that Kate, Kevin, and Randall experience is altogether heartbreaking and beautiful. How many times did you want to intervene when Kevin and Randall just couldn’t hash it out? (UGH! That Yoohoo scene, I’m tearing up again…) While I never had a knock-down drag-out fight with my sisters, I can see us clearly in those football uniforms going to town over our own misunderstandings. And I think, “My girls cannot be like this. They cannot be like ME.” No doubt they will be in some ways, but when I see the years wasted between Kevin and Randall, I want to sit down and immediately tattoo “She’s my BFF” across their hearts.

They will be a healthy version of Kevin and Kate – leaning on each other. They will be a female version of Kate and Randall, who have compassion and a sweet “I-got-you” sensibility. And hopefully they will be a younger version of Kevin and Randall, who can finally spend time just hanging out together because they want to. Even if this is the opposite of what will happen in my life, every Tuesday night I get a sense that it’s possible. Because my role as a mother is to mold them and bring them together but not force them down each others’ throats. And for that reason, I see why reconciliation took time for these brothers.

This is…Our Time

The end of each day brings me to sheer exhaustion. I close the last door at 7pm, and I’m ready to say “Night Night” as well! But there’s one more person up waiting for me. My husband. And while I’m hanging up my Mommin’ hat for the day, I’m always sporting “The Wife” one. Rebecca and Jack are absolutely wonderful. They are the scripted perfection of sassy, fun, dramatic, and adventurous. But above all they are partners and lovers.

I have to remember this. The reason I am a Mother is because I first met a Man. A man I love deeply and cherish with my whole being. While we aren’t Steelers fans we need to make time for our things. Hobbies together…traditions together…time together. Just the two of us, no littles allowed. While we have no idea what happened to Jack or how Miguel entered the picture, we all know one day death will part us. And every time a scene with Rebecca and Jack comes on, I just want to shout, “Love him! Hug her!” because we, the audience, know this time they have is fleeting. I’m sure Miguel is a nice guy for Rebecca, but it’s Jack and Rebecca who are MFEO. As each episode closes out and I’m full of tears or bewilderment, I feel compelled to love my own man harder, to stay up a bit more just to talk, and cherish every second we have here together. He’s my “Jack,” and I’m his very own Rebecca.