Every teenager who has just gotten into a big fight with their parents dreams about having their own place. No rules. No curfew. Nobody telling them what they can (or can't) wear. Nobody to tell them that they can't go to a bonfire with their friends on a Friday night because "there are a lot of creeps who hang out on the beach at night." (Maybe that last one just pertained to me). They dream about how they will decorate, the parties they'll throw, and how cool they'll be, because what's cooler than having your own place when all of your friends still live at home? One thing that most of those dream-filled teens don't think about is how they'll feel when (yes, I mean when, not if) they have to move back home. Okay, so maybe there are a few people out there who manage to move out without having to move back in with mom and dad to gain their footing in this world they thought they had all figured out. But out of all the people my age who have been on their own, there are only a handful who haven't had to run back home for help.
In today's economy, it is difficult for young people to be 100% self reliant, especially here in Southern California. ("$1600 a month for a 900 sqft. apartment without a washer, dryer, or dishwasher? What a deal!" she said with an air of sarcasm about her.) Lots of new "adults" fresh out of high school will go off to college, live in a dorm, and for four wonderful, parent-free years have the independence they dreamed of. But when you graduate and nobody will give you a job for that degree in psychology (haven't you ever heard of webMD?) or fine arts (who needs to visit a museum when snapchat can turn your face into a dog?) that you worked so hard for, you're left with only a few options. You can either A) bum off your friends and couch surf until you find a job, B) live in your car, C) join the military (or as my husband refers to it, sell your soul for 4 years), or D) move back home. Of course, there are those who don't go the college route (like myself). Those who marry young (again like myself) and those who work 3 jobs a day, 70 hours a week, and still only make enough money to be able to rent a 2 bedroom apartment with 3 other people (oh, San Diego, we sure do have a love/hate relationship here).
In any case, you will most likely end up back at home in your old bedroom for some period of time. Unless your bedroom has been converted into the home office, in which case you'll be in your brother's old room. (Just me again?) That is where I have been with my husband and my daughter for the past year. I've got to say, when I moved out four years ago, I never thought I'd live at home again. I mean, I'm a married woman with a family of my own. What married woman moves back in with mommy and daddy because her and her family can't hack it on their own? Lots of them, that's who. My oldest brother and his wife moved back home to save money before my nephew was born, my other brother moved back home after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu (see, not all fancy degrees guarantee you oodles of money), and my husband and I moved back home when his Marine Corps contract was coming to an end.
Coming to the realization that we wouldn't be able to make it on our own anymore was the hardest thing for me. Having to ask my parents to allow my little family to move back home was a close second. Not because I thought my parents would be bothered by us (they love having access to my daughter whenever they want. What grandparent wouldn't?), but because I felt like a failure. I felt like I let my husband down and that I wasn't fit to be a mother. I wasn't able to help bring in money in my family's time of need therefore, it was all my fault that we ended up living back in my childhood home. What I didn't realize at the time was just how common it is for people to move back home, no matter what their prior situation happened to be.
We packed all of our things (well the military hired someone to pack all of our things), we put everything that we didn't need for the next six months in long-term storage, and the three of us moved in to my brother's old 10 ft x 14 ft bedroom with hopes of only being there for a few months. Fast-forward one year, and here we are, still in the same bedroom, my husband still working his butt off so that we can move out and regain our independence as adults, but with a whole new outlook on our situation. When we moved in a year ago, we brought with us a crap ton of debt and no definitive plan for our post-military life, with our 5 month old daughter in tow. But now we are weeks away from being completely debt free, my husband works for my parents, and he is on track to run the family business for my father when he decides to retire. I thought that we were losing our independence when we lost our ability to live in our own apartment. Little did I know that financial independence free of debt would be far more satisfying than having my own home. Don't get me wrong, I desperately miss having my own bathroom, but I never knew how amazing it could feel to say "I am debt free."
Now some people might think, "Hey, if you're in such a pickle, why don't you get a job and help out?" Well, my overly concerned friend, I will tell you why. The truth is, there's a reason I am a full time stay at home wife and mom. I have no real money making skills. (And no, I am not ashamed of it whatsoever.) While I would absolutely love the chance to go back to school and get a degree in one thing or another, my family and I are not currently in the position for me to do so. Without one of those fancy college degrees, any job I can get wont bring in anything more than minimum wage. And every parent knows that childcare comes at a steep price, stopping right before taking your left kidney and your first born child, in which case you wouldn't need childcare anymore (problem solved). In all seriousness though, if I was working 40 hours a week at a minimum wage job, I would literally bring home enough money to pay for gas to get to work and child care, and maybe have $100 or so left over (we've done the math). Not to mention my husband is pretty clueless in the kitchen (don't forget that I love you, baby!), so if I don't want him and my daughter eating frozen pizzas, cereal, and top ramen for every meal, I need to be the one cooking dinner every night. Even more so, my husband has made it clear that he loves that I get to be the one who cares for our child everyday, and neither of us would feel comfortable having a stranger watch our precious little girl (not that there is anything wrong with childcare, because there isn't). So what's the point? That leaves my amazing, selfless, wonderful husband to be the sole provider for our family. It turns out, finding a job after leaving the military isn't as easy as they make it seem. We were lucky in the fact that the skills he holds happen to be exactly what my dad needed in an employee.
While most people may view having to move back home as a form of punishment for not being able to hold their own in the real world, I now have a completely new outlook on the whole thing. There is no way I can ever thank my parents enough for allowing the three of us to move back home. We wouldn't have been able to survive without their help. For this, I am eternally grateful to them. Moving home is a blessing in disguise. Without this opportunity, my husband and I would still be in a tremendous amount of debt, probably even more so than we started out with. My husband might not have been given the opportunity to work in the family business. My parents probably wouldn't have the amazing bond and relationship with my daughter they have now without getting to spend every day with her. Most of all, I have gained a whole new appreciation for being independent and self sufficient. IT IS HARD, GUYS! Nobody gets through the really difficult things in life without just a little bit of help. So if you are on the edge of a decision of either living in your car, selling your soul to the military for four years (thank you for your service to our country!), or moving home, I can honestly say that the latter isn't the worst decision in the bunch. In moving home, you might just rediscover your independence.