The summer after my son was born, we lost our home. Along with the obviously already upsetting turn of events, the situation was precipitated by some really inconsiderate actions by someone we had previously considered a friend, so in July of 2015, we severed ties with him permanently, left our home of four-and-a-half years, and moved back in with my parents.
While I was living on my own, stopping by or staying over at my folks’ house was a unique treat; before my son was born, my mom an I would plan Friday evenings around watching America’s Got Talent or Hannibal; we’d share a bed and stay up late talking and watching The Golden Girls. After my son was born, we’d occasionally both stop my for a sleepover when my husband was out with his friends; she’d help me put the baby down for the night, and we’d have a glass of wine and read old magazines.
Essentially, our relationship blossomed when we connected on our own terms, and when time together was something that was definitively finite – we appreciated time together because we had such ample time apart. Her quirks and neuroses (and trust me, she has plenty) were tolerable and even sort of humorous when I knew they weren’t something that would have any real impact on my life, since I could retreat back to the comfort and sanity of my own home essentially on a whim. I thought we had entered a new phase of our relationship with one another – one where we could each view the other as an adult, aside from and in addition to being the other’s parent/child.
I’m not sure if the act of moving back in with them caused our relationship to regress back to its old ways, or if it just shone light on the fact that there had never been any real progress in the first place – just no real opportunity to control or infantilize me. Once our stuff was moved back in, all the most unfortunate trappings of my upbringing began in full-force again – undermining my agency, gaslighting me, intentionally goading me and then mocking me for rising to the bait (which, granted, I should know better, but still – who does that?) For the favor I knew they were doing for me (taking me and my husband in, rent-free), they reminded me consistently that I was a guest in their house and, essentially, they could treat me however they liked without complaint, because I owed it to them.
Essentially, the moment I moved back in, it became obvious that while I had matured and changed, the way they were able to relate to me had not.
After a particularly rough afternoon, I tearfully begged my husband to look up mortgage brokers and at least put in some inquiries – we had planned on living with my folks for about two years, to save a substantial down payment after nine months, we had both had enough. My husband shot off an inquiry to the realtor friends had suggested to us, and we got an email back in the hour with he name of “her” mortgage guy, and we had a meeting with him scheduled within the week.
Three weeks later, we had a budget, and started looking at houses.
A month later, we were shown a duplex on a dead-end street with almost all the amenities we wanted (plus some we didn’t want) within our budget.
Two days after that, we made an offer on it. We closed later that month.
On my own again, I’ve resumed rebuilding my relationship with the two of them. They aren’t terrible people; they just aren’t great parents – or at least, not to us as adult children. They aren’t old, at least not by today’s standards of age, but they have both grown inflexible and rigid in their thinking, and I don’t think they knew how to relate to us as both children living in their home and independent adults. I think that was something they struggled with – where the line of authority and respect was, where the boundaries were – and their frustration colored all of their interactions with us.
And honestly, I don’t think they ever quite knew what to make of me (or my husband). That’s an indictment of my (our) own weirdness just as much as it is of their inflexibility, but at least I (we) have the grace of self-awareness.
Did you ever have to move back home? How has it affected your relationship with your parents?