Let’s start this one with a disclaimer: I love my family. In fact, I’ve often been told how remarkable it is that all 6 of us stay so close despite the age, gender, and mile gap between us. (Read more on staying in touch here.) But as the oldest of four, having officially passed the quarter-life milestone, going home is wrought with complicated dynamics.
For the majority of young adulthood, our parents had to sign off on every activity. They held the power to do this because our license-less, teenage selves needed rides everywhere, and had to inevitably report back to a deluge of questions regarding our whereabouts. As a 20-something, for better or worse, we report only to ourselves. We wake up to our own alarms, pack or buy our own lunches, take care of ourselves when we get sick, schedule our own lives. Put it this way: our parents would take at least a week to discover if we were kidnapped walking home from our night at the club. Somehow, none of this matters the minute we walk back in the front door. Mom froze us in time as a 15-year-old and Dad still considers us his little girl.
The Significant Other
As if being back on our parents’ schedule wasn’t hard enough,try throwing a S/O into the mix. Do your parents like them? Do they like their parents? Do you share the same bed, or will your Dad bring out the Louisville slugger? If you manage to navigate all that (and if so please DM me) you have to stay constantly on guard for your Mom or sister to bring up something–or worse, someone–you have desperately tried to bury in your past. In short, don’t bring them home unless you are 10/10 on the commitment scale.
Ah, the siblings. Blood is thicker, and thank god it is. For those of us that have brothers or sisters, there is no greater gift than a built-in best friend, and no greater curse than someone who knows you better than you know yourself. I’m a strong believer in birth order. Think you left that middle child syndrome behind? Think again.
The Mother/Daughter Relationship
We all need someone that’s going to give it to us straight, and there’s no one better than your mother to hand you the criticism that you love to hate. Why are mother-daughter relationships so notoriously difficult? “Yes, I’m eating enough.” “No, I’m not working too hard.” “Yes, I like this outfit; and I’m going to wear it.” Speaking from experience, when you’re too similar it’s too easy to call each-other out on your sh*t.
The Old Photos
Another double-edged sword. There’s nothing like going home to get swept up in a wave of good old nostalgia. Sometimes, the memories are happy. Sometimes, they are cringeworthy. Ever wonder if the younger you would like the person you’ve become? Welcome to the rabbithole.
Most of us are off the parental payroll by our mid-twenties. We usually pay our own way, but what about at home? Should we be splitting bills with our parents? (Let’s not even get started on what your S/O should do.) For me, it’s often a relief to have a nice dinner paid for (even Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato Fries get old after a while), but sometimes I feel guilty. When I voice this, my parents usually tell me not to worry and to pay it forward someday. But someday feels as far away as 25 once did.