Friday 24 September 2010


A friend of mine just moved back in with her parents because she is having work done on her house. Of course this has brought up all sorts of issues and headaches for all involved…well for her, her husband and their kids. Something tells me that her parents are thrilled to have someone to look after again. It got me thinking -  and laughing - because when they say you can’t go home again, boy do they mean it. I often wonder if it goes against the genetic grain to allow this to happen. In short, we spend our lives growing, changing and becoming more independent, all so that we can leave the nest and go find our own. To reenter the parental nest just seems to fundamentally against nature.

Then there is the space issue. As a grown adult, you are used to having your own space and suddenly you find yourself back in their house and your space has been sucked into a parental wormhole. Due to their excitement to have you back in their fold, they end up stuck on your head like a boil, smothering you like a child again. Cause in their eyes you still are one and they’re going to remind you of that fact. Suddenly, overnight there is a mass regression to when you were a teenager. They start telling you to clean your plate, pick up your stuff (even if it’s not on the ground), get a haircut, or they start playing the martyr card (not you Mom, you’re utterly perfect) about how much they do for you – usually with a big dramatic sigh - when you don’t even recall asking.  And no matter how much you try to tell them you are not the same 16 year old trying to sneak out of the house, or smoke cigarettes in the bathroom or steal their car…I’m just kidding, I never did such a thing…well, it falls on deaf ears. You are, and ever shall be, their baby to smother with parental advice and attention.

There is also that moment when you realize you have a front row seat to what your parents have been doing all this time since you left the house, and it's not always pretty. You can see their routines so deeply embedded there are grooves in the carpet, coupled with the fact that after thirty some odd years together they are potentially sick to death of one another. Of course then you become the dreaded buffer and find yourself corned in the pantry refereeing their latest disagreement. 

Then again, things are not always like this. Some parents see their kids coming and lock the doors and set the burglar alarm. They figure, I’ve done my time and I’m not sharing my beautifully clean cell with my progeny inmate. Your old bedroom is now a state of the art gym and they have no intention of going back; take the sofa or there’s a lovely motel on the corner of “what the hell are you doing here” and “how long are you staying exactly?”

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s great to go home. The laundry gets done, the fridge is always full with your favorite things, and the house always smells like something good and you didn’t have to cook it. Hallelujah! And for that brief moment you do feel like a kid, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s a nice flash of nostalgia of a time when things weren’t so complicated. You find yourself saying Mommy instead of Mother, sitting in your old bedroom remembering all the things you plotted whilst you were grounded, and you ruminate on the memories of how you tortured your mother with all your teenage antics (perhaps this is just me?)....suddenly you almost feel badly…until of course she bangs on the door while you are showering and tells you to stop wasting so much water, she’s not made of money you know!

They do say absence does make the heart grow fonder and distance is good for any relationship. I'm thinking that's damn good advice...Mommy, I’ll be home at Xmas. Get the washing machine ready. 
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