My husband will never understand why I sat down week after week to watch a TV show because I wanted it to make me cry. But that’s the thing I loved most about Parenthood. And it’s the thing I’ll miss most about the Braverman family, when the show airs for the final time tonight, following six successful seasons and many crumpled tissues.
Here are my top 10 Parenthood moments from smallest to biggest pile of tissues:
1. Max’s baseball game
In the pilot episode, we met the members of the Braverman family and saw a bit of their personalities and some of the family’s dynamics. We also saw different parenting approaches and a first glimpse of the challenges Adam and Kristina’s family face with their son Max. When the entire extended family shows up to Max’s Little League game, setting aside their differences to cheer him on, I felt the very first Parenthood-induced lump in my throat.
2. The bundle of birthday cards from Seth to Amber and Drew
It doesn’t matter how grown up we are, we still need our parents’ love and approval. When on-again-off-again dad Seth comes back into his family’s life and then realizes that he doesn’t have a place there, he leaves a stack of birthday cards for Amber and Drew—for each birthday that he missed.
3. Crosby’s confession to his brand new baby
It may not be the most eloquent quote on the show, but it was real and I’m sure resonated with other viewers as much as it did with me. After failing to soothe his crying newborn, Crosby whispered to his daughter, “I’m sure you’re going to be the best thing that ever happened to me someday, but right now I really hate you.” I loved his honesty and the portrayal of the harder side of parenthood.
4. Kristina telling the family about her breast cancer diagnosis
When Haddie returns from college, after getting details about her mom’s cancer over the phone from her dad, she interrupts a Braverman-family gathering. It forces Kristina to tell all of them about the battle she’s about to face. In this scene we don’t hear the family members’ responses, but we watch their reactions play out on their faces. And we can feel how scared they were and see their resolve to support her.
5. Zeek telling Joel to fight for Julia
When my mom was a young parent, she showed up on my grandmother’s doorstep with a baby (me) and a suitcase, after a bad fight with my dad. My grandmother said, “He’s a good man, go home and fight for your marriage and not with each other.” And then she closed the door. Zeek does the same for Joel, after he tries to say his goodbyes to his father-in-law and step away from the Braverman family, by telling him to fight for his marriage and giving him support and encouragement.
6. Elevator scene with Julia and Joel
Marriage is hard. Marriage with kids is even harder. It’s all too easy to lose sight of why you came together in the first place, and it’s also easy to hurt one another. The emotionally charged hand-holding moment in the elevator, after Julia and Joel have negotiated their separation, is one of those scenes without words that says so much and allows you to relate to Julia and Joel’s story.
7. Zeek’s speech/lecture to Amber
The thought of sending my kids out into the world and trusting them to make smart decisions and keep themselves safe is absolutely terrifying—because we all know how the saying goes: When you become a parent, your heart walks around outside your body. When Zeek takes Amber to see her car after she has a bad accident and says, “You do not have permission to mess up my dreams,” I lost it. Big time.
8. Amber naming her son after Zeek
My sister and I both named our sons after our father. When Zeek learns that his granddaughter has named her son after him, at a time when he is facing down his own mortality and looking back on his life, well…it was half a box of tissues for me, half for my sister.
9. Kristina’s farewell video for her children
Made during Kristina’s breast-cancer journey and watched by Adam while she’s in critical condition following a complication of her treatment, this goodbye video was absolutely heart wrenching—and so hard and frightening to imagine going through. You can watch it here, if you’re up for a good cry:
10. Max tells his parents that he knows he’s different
The tissues don’t lie. This is, without doubt, the scene that had me doing the ugliest of ugly cries. When Max says, “I think I am a freak,” after his classmates pee into his canteen on a field trip, Kristina is without any words of comfort. She climbs into the back seat of the car and wraps her arms around her son, even though he doesn’t like to be touched due to his Asperger’s Syndrome, and we all sobbed for them. My heart felt everything Kristina’s was showing us in that moment.
It could be that my top Parenthood moment is in tonight’s show. The sneak peek, that showed a scene between Zeek and Sarah as he asks her if he’s been a good father, already had me reaching for the tissues.
Will you be watching/crying with me tonight as we say our goodbyes to the Bravermans?