Today I talked on Skype with my parents. My mom and dad are the type of parents that insist on skyping at least once a week and writing emails on a daily basis. No matter how many times I try to explain that it might be difficult to send an email from the rain forest or from a ship on the amazon, my parents expect an email anyway, there is absolutely no way to convince them otherwise. They are also the type of parents that, even though I am 32 years old, support myself, and have successfully managed to start a new life in a foreign country on my own, still make me feel like I am 14 years old each time we skype. I realize that to my parents I will always be their little baby girl, and that they are just worried, which is why I am very patient with them. Or try to be, since I am not exactly known for my tranquil state of mind. So I tell them that I eat my vegetables, take my vitamins and wear a scarf in the cold (no, these are not random examples, this is really part of our weekly conversation). However, on some days, such as today, I wonder: how far should parental advice really go? Is it really necessary to ask about my freelance work each week? Is it then also necessary to tell me that they don’t really approve of my work?
My mother: “How can you go to bed with a clear conscience?”
My dad: “Why do you have to be so rude to her?! Honey, are you doing anything illegal?”
Me: “No, Dad! I am not doing anything illegal. I work in marketing. I persuade people to buy things they don’t want for a living. It’s not always pretty, but I am pretty sure it’s legal.”
My dad: “See! She’s not really telling the truth, but it’s legal.”
My mother: “What kind of attitude is that?! Can’t you just write more articles for Spiegel Online?” [major German news magazine]
Me: “Sure, mom. I have that on my to do list, right after getting a job for the New York Times. You don’t think I try?!”
My mother: “You don’t have to be so sarcastic. I just think you’re lying to people and that’s just not right!”
There it was. Motherly advice on right and wrong. At age 32. Over a marketing job. Do I really need to listen to this? Honestly, and after I had some hours to think it over, yes! Firstly, because everybody should listen to their mother (at least sometimes). Secondly, because the people that truly love us are the ones that tell us the things we need to hear, not the ones we want to hear. And finally, because she has a point! Do I go to sleep with a clear conscience? Absolutely! But do I also feel that Spiegel Online or The New York Times should print my stories? Most definitely! Should I try harder to sell my journalistic skills instead of my marketing skills? Probably! Not so much because I agree with my mother’s opinion that marketing is a dishonest business. I don’t!. But I I should try harder because journalism is my big passion, the professional love of my life, and because one day I want to buy The New York Times and see my name printed next to an article. This has been my dream since I was 14, and nobody knows this better than my parents!