So Santa Claus isn’t the only one coming to town this year. I just found out my dad’s job is transferring him to sunny Colorado (an assignment he’s been trying to get for literally 20 years), and with him, of course, will come my mother and seven younger siblings who still live at home. Everybody freak out!
This is one of those classic cases of joy and caution mixing in nearly equal parts. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and I get that this is an opportunity to maintain close ties that many adult children regret not having, but I also can’t entirely gloss over those small bits of trepidation starting to bubble to the surface, mostly involving lifestyle changes that will necessarily take place. Here’s my pro/con list:
PRO: After I left for college five and a half years ago, I only lived at home again for two distinct periods (I visited at least twice a year, but those vacations were usually between two and three weeks), once for the summer between my freshman and sophomore year and once for about three and a half months before I got married. I always wished that my parents had lived somewhere more accessible (like on the same continent maybe) so that I could develop closer adult relationships with them and, especially, my brothers and sisters.
CON: I better start cleaning my motherfucking house. Sorry, but this is legitimately upsetting to me–my tolerance level for mess, on a scale of 1 to 10, is somewhere around the 3 area. But, Meghan, you say, isn’t that remarkably low? Doesn’t that mean that, excluding weeks when just looking at a broom makes you weep, your house is generally clean and well-lit and the laundry pile remains under 24 cubic inches?
All true facts (truefax?), but you have to understand that my mother’s tolerance level for mess is negative infinity. Nearly everyone who’s been to my family’s house comments on the museum-like sheen of the floors and the fact that dust seems to be repelled by my mother’s very presence. So will she and my father wage guilt trip wars on myself and their son-in-law? I predict 50% of that question will eventually be answered with a “yes.”
PRO: I’ll finally know what it’s like, as an adult, to have the type of family that’s right around the corner when you need them. I was always the “independent” (among other more or less positive attributes) child, and I could probably benefit from calling up mummy and daddy once in a while and telling them I just really need to come over and share my feelings. And possibly some cookies (oh yeah, my mother’s a famously good cook and baker. One time my little sister’s friend told her mother that she liked my mom’s chocolate chip cookies better than the ones she, her own mother, made. This apparently sparked drama).
CONS: Will I regress into a child-like state of dependency wherein my parents are essential partners in my existence and my husband feels cold-shouldered? Probably not, but I do worry about how to break out of the roles my family typically associates with me. When I visited from college, I usually tried my best not to rock the boat, slipping back into worn-out behavioral patterns and even personality quirks, ignoring changes that had taken place for fear my parents wouldn’t be accepting. I suppose this all sounds a little cryptic, but I’ll break it down in the next con.
PRO: I’ll have more of the “support system” people talk so much about, which will come in handy when my husband deploys for a year.
CON: I predict at some point there’s going to be a big, fucking meltdown. When my parents prod me enough and find out I always vote Democrat (which to them would be the equivalent of always writing in “Satan”), that I rarely if ever go to church anymore, that I don’t think feminism is a 4-letter, that if they play Rush Limbaugh in the car one more time I will spontaneously combust, that I use curse words, that I often drink to excess and smoke to a lesser extent, that my husband and I eat out far more than people on our budget should, that there’s this weird strip of dirt on the side of our house that is nothing but 5-feet-tall weeds and I don’t care, that I only wear a bra on special occasions (ok, that’s an easy fix), that I think dust bunnies can be cute, that I have no qualms about drinking the last of the orange juice and then just putting the container back in the fridge if I can’t fit it in the trash can, etc.
On further reflection, that last con is really the outsized issue here, and I’ve gathered, from conferring with friends who have open lines of communication with their parents, that at some point I just have to let the veil drop and stop pretending to be someone I’m not. Or, more accurately, stop answering every parental inquiry with a “Huh” or “I’ll get back to you” and then changing the question.
So wish me luck! My Santa quip may have been misleading; they won’t actually get here until sometime next summer, which gives me and my husband a goodly amount of time to acquire more furniture that can be sat on, not to be mention mentally adjust to the whole idea of having people we really care about a few miles away (note: my grandparents are here and we love them, of course, but they’re grandparents and worship the ground we walk on, so, you know).
How would you all feel about your parents moving to your town/city? As conflicted as me or decidedly less so?