Fifteen years ago, my family discovered a show that made us laugh together. It was about a couple raising four boys, and it aired on Sunday nights. Malcolm seemed to be the only normal one in a family of crazy people, and the story was told from his perspective.
“Hey, are you going to mom and dad’s to watch Malcolm?” my brother would call and ask every week.
Even though we were both living in our own homes with our spouses, we made it a ritual to go to my parents’ every Sunday (well, okay, we may have also enjoyed a free meal too). We laughed together, talked about our weekends, and sometimes nursed hangovers left from watching my brother’s band play the night before.
My dad started referring to his house as “The Hub,” because it was the place, he said, where everyone meets in the middle.
We all had full time jobs and were proud of being able to afford our own cars and apartments — we no longer relied on our parents to pay for our insurance or put a roof over our heads. So the hub was a place where we no longer HAD to be — it was just where we wanted to be.
It was where we talked about new jobs. Where we celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. Where we announced pregnancies. Where my sister-in-law and I sat and nursed our babies together. Where we all admitted that we had no idea what the hell we were doing as parents.
Eventually, as our babies grew, Sundays at the hub changed. Malcolm was replaced by Blue’s Clues and Dora, and conversations started were always left unfinished. Then there were the times when we were in-between houses, and moved back into my parents’ house with our kids in tow. It got crazy, but never did any of us feel unwelcomed.
Over the years, things changed. Life changed. My brother and his family moved to California. My kids are all involved in sports and often have games on Sundays — so my parents come to watch and cheer them on. Time spent at the hub is a little more sporatic.
I’ve been thinking about how much I miss our days of watching Malcolm. But I’m starting to realize it has nothing to do with how good the show was – I couldn’t even describe a single episode. What I miss is The Middle. The time when my brother and I were in between being kids and having kids. A time when we discovered that family — our parents and each other — would be our best friends for life.
Long after they are moved out on their own, I want my kids to want to come back. I want them to know they can ask me for help even after I’m no longer folding their laundry or changing their sheets. I want them to bring girlfriends or boyfriends and spouses over. I want them to tell us about whatever struggles they’re having. Even if they don’t need anything, I want them to come over just to laugh at a silly show.
What I want more than anything, is for my kids to choose my home as their hub.