Moving home

I moved home after graduation. Or really, I moved back in with my mother. She had moved across the country for her job when I was a sophomore in college, and when I didn’t have a job or even a short-term plan by the time graduation came along, I decided to move in with her while I figured things out.

I was excited to move in with her for many reasons: we were always close while I was in high school and even in college, and since she had moved to California from the east coast, I felt like I didn’t have as much time to spend with her. I also was looking forward to living in a new town and meeting new people and learning about the part of her life that I didn’t get to see while I was away at school.

What I didn’t plan for was the turbulence and turmoil of looking for a job full-time. I spent most days at the kitchen table, scouring the internet for future careers, future goals, and any job that I felt I could successfully do. By the time my mother would get home from work, I would feel defeated, irritated, and upset. I wouldn’t want to talk to her (or anyone) and I couldn’t see past the funk I was in. Then I would feel guilty for not spending time with her, for not taking advantage of the opportunity to live at home rent-free, for not appreciating more the situation I was in. Not everyone has the option or the opportunity to move home or to have extra time with their parents.

For me, I just felt so defeated that I didn’t have a job. That I had to move back home. I saw moving home as a sign of failure and weakness because in my mind, I wasn’t good enough to be hired. My mother was so supportive in this time period; while I would complain and stress about being unemployable and nervous, she would patiently listen and offer advice and any help that she could. Then, I would get defensive and take her advice as her telling me what to do, which further made me feel like I was a child.

After living with my mother for eight months, I have a new perspective on moving back home after graduation. First, more people do it than I thought. Originally, I felt like I was one of the few friends who didn’t move out on their own post-graduation. The reality was that most of my friends did live at home for a few months or still live at home now. I also realized that I could have a different type of relationship with my mother than before. I am no longer the surly 17 year old trying to get into college (I’m just the stressed out 22 year old trying to find a job!) and as much as it felt like I was reverting back to high school when I moved home, I found myself helping out more, taking charge of more chores, and able to give my mother advice about life, too.

There are definitely pros and cons to living at home again after college. Here are a few that I found during my time at home:

Pros:

  1. Nothing beats living rent-free.
  2. Ditto to not paying for groceries
  3. Spending time with your parents is a gift that not everyone gets to experience. Extra time can only be cherished and there will come a point when we can’t move home.
  4. Moms are great for laundry and life advice. And cooking lessons!
  5. My mother ( I can’t speak for all moms on this one) loves to try new things and is always game for a new adventure, whether it be watching three seasons of The West Wing in one weekend or going to another city for wine tasting on a Saturday.
  6. Sometimes you need to take a moment to recharge, whether it’s after graduation, after a tough time in life, or just to reevaluate where you are and where you want to go in life. And recharging at home, in an environment where you feel secure, safe and supported is invaluable.

Cons:

  1. It was harder to meet new people because I got very settled into just going home to help with dinner. I got into a routine of heading straight home after my shift at my part-time job.
  2. Going out to bars or restaurants with the friends I did make was hard because I had to be very cognizant of when I would get home. A roommate doesn’t usually care if you are out until one in the morning, but a mother worries much more about who, what, where, when, and why.
  3. We aren’t meant to live at home forever. As young adults, we are meant to get out of our comfort zones, explore, live and learn, and grow.
  4. Moving out is a part of growing up and maturing. So is paying rent, figuring out how to move, and not relying on anyone but yourself.
  5. There were definitely times when I felt I was being told what to do or “Mom-ed” and it was stifling.

Finally, two last take-aways from my eight months with my mother:

Having to live with a parent again  helped me better my communication. Instead of sighing loudly, rolling my eyes, and saying “Mo-om ugh!” like I had in high school, I learned to articulate my feelings and express when I was agitated by something my mother had said or done. Also, I realized that I was no longer the girl I had been before I left for college. I had changed, grown up, experienced staying up all night to write a paper or to drink with friends, and  it was hard to move back home and feel confined to the life under a parental roof. One thing I didn’t count for was that my mother wasn’t the same person she had been when I was in college either. She had changed too. Not living with a child is different too, and I know that I came barreling back into her life (in a good way!) and disrupted her routine, and her home environment. She had to get used to living with me again just as much as I had to get used to living with her.

Moving back in with my mother was a hard, wonderful, humbling, funny experience that I am so grateful I had the chance to explore. I probably won’t live at home again, which is terrifying, and I won’t have the time with my mother like I had while living with her.