Friday, March 4, 2011

Why I'm glad my parents listened

autumn in Indiana
According to my dad, when I was 14 years old I said something that changed the fate of my family forever. 

Now, as an adult and a parent, this story kind of baffles me.

My dad has been in the newspaper business his entire career, which translated into a bit of a nomadic lifestyle for my mom, two older brothers and me. We’d lived in Fort Wayne, IN, Houston, TX, Alton, IL -- for a while it was a running joke in our family that once two years’ time had passed it was time to pick up and move.  Journalists tend to jump from publication to publication for a variety of reasons, but mostly for better opportunities, and my dad always seemed to be on the headhunters’ call list.

We finally planted roots in a small Indiana city near South Bend and stayed for seven years, the longest we’d lived in any one city since I’d been alive. We’d laugh about dodging that two-year bullet, that cursed deadline, and there seemed to be an unspoken understanding that meant we’d found home. My dad still got the headhunter calls every once in a while, but somehow they weren’t able to lure us away from the happy little Midwestern life we were creating there.

Then in 1997, he got a call about a publisher job for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a position he would have loved to take on. But after talking things over with my mom, they agreed he wouldn’t even look into it. The kids had been through enough of this picking-up-and-leaving, they decided – my oldest brother had gone through three different high schools his freshman year, for crying out loud. We were all happy here, why change anything? My dad said he’d call the headhunter the following day and let them know he’s not interested.

In the car on the way to school (I was in eighth grade), he casually mentioned the phone call he’d be making shortly. Apparently, to his surprise, I became very upset. And that’s when I said something like:

“You have to get me out of here if I’m ever going to do anything with my life.”

I’m shocked this ever came out of my mouth. I was happy there, had the greatest friends in the world, was involved in track, basketball, cheerleading, orchestra…why would I want to leave? I was attached. What made me think I’d never do anything with my life if we stayed?

I’m even more shocked that my dad took this new information, re-evaluated things with my mom, and decided to at least look into the opportunity. One thing led to another, and before we knew what hit us we were packing up boxes headed for Grapevine, TX that summer.

I didn’t think much about the significance of this at the time. But now, looking back, I picture a teenage girl throwing a fit in a car and wonder how my parents were able to take me seriously, let alone give my words enough clout to change their entire plan. Their minds were made up, but incredibly, they allowed me to weigh in.

Honestly? It may have been that, deep down, they knew I could have been right. The high school I would have attended had an impressive teen pregnancy rate, even in the 90’s before it was glamorized on MTV. The area is 20 minutes from Elkhart, IN. City name sound familiar? President Obama made it the poster child for cities hit hard by the recent economic downturn in 2009. And most of those great friends I had in eighth grade still live and work there, it seems that people never leave.

My family agrees leaving was a great decision for us. While running the Cowtown Half Marathon last weekend, taking in the sights and sounds of different areas of Fort Worth, I realized I’ve fallen in love with this city and it has become home. This is where we've planted our roots after all.

The bottom line is I’m incredibly grateful my voice was heard that day, and a little in awe of why it was. Would I have done the same in their shoes if it were my teenager? Would I have listened? I’m not sure, but I hope so.

Have you had to make the difficult choice to relocate? Did your kids weigh in on your decision?

Megan Brooks is a Sr. Public Relations Specialist for Texas Health Resources and Stepmom who is not from Texas, but got here as fast as she could.


  1. Kind of a snobby article Megan. The people who grew up with you in Indiana and missed you when you left ended up turning out okay. I know, I'm one of them.

  2. Hi Anonymous -- I didn't mean to offend anyone who still lives there, and yes everyone turned out just fine. It's just interesting to me how life can change on a dime, or in this case, on the insignificant comment of a 14-year-old. My family's life would be a lot different today if we hadn't moved and I don't think there's anything wrong with acknowledging that.

  3. I, for one, am VERY glad you were heard. I would have never had you as an amazing friend and inpiration in my life. Thank your parents for me :)

  4. I is not the city you live in that makes you who you are its what you do with yourself that makes you who you are. I'm sure deep down your parents were truly thinking: If we stay here our daughter will eventually get pregnant and work in an RV factory in Elkhart.