Moving to college is one of the most exciting times in your life. You pack up your pillows and your favorite comforter. That first year you probably even bring that dingy, stuffed bear from when you were five. Maybe you cry as your parents pile back into the minivan and drive away. But soon enough, you’re living a new normal. You go to class and the dining hall, you might find yourself in a senior’s apartment drinking a beer on a Friday even though you think it tastes gross. And little by little you get totally used to it – living on your own, having no one to answer to. Sleeping til 2 o’clock in the afternoon on Saturdays. Choosing to clean your room (or not).
You test drive the lone-wolf lifestyle, taking it for a two-semester spin. You decide you like being on your own; you buy it. And then you brake to a screeching halt: it’s time to go home for summer. And those parents you cried about missing on day one, they’re kind of…annoying sometimes. Post-grad life is a lot like that first summer home from college, except permanent. (At least until you move out again, but those of us who need to save our pennies know that that might be a while.)
After just a few months of being back under Mom and Dad’s roof, you’ll be able to list your grievances with no hesitation: they don’t buy the foods you want, they don’t let you sleep in on the weekends, they want to know where you are at. all. times. (Who taught parents how to text, anyway?) My dad even knocked on my door one night around 10 o’clock, informing me angrily that “it was late and I better shut off the light and get to bed.” You might have just gotten your diploma, but sometimes, you’re left feeling like you’re back in the second grade.
It might seem like your parents just don’t understand. While you were growing more and more independent, they were staying themselves for the most part and missing you. Your parents have been adults for a long time; you are just now learning what it means to be one and how to live it out in everyday life. They forget what it’s like to be thrown out into the world, independent and alone, and then reeled back in by student loans, lack of jobs, and that empty nest that still has room for you.
But their forgetting is innocent (albeit sometimes irritating). Cut them some slack. Because for every item on your list of annoyances, there is probably an item for which you should be saying thank you. Like how they make you lunch for work without being asked and how they let you borrow the car when you still can’t afford one of your own. And, most importantly, how they are letting you live with them rent and complaint free, because believe it or not, you might not be the only one in the house who got used to life without the other.
The next time you find yourself annoyed and searching for apartments on your iPhone, try to remember that your parents aren’t as unbearable as they appear. They can actually be pretty cool, really generous, and the kind of friends who are always down for a movie marathon on Friday nights. Try to remember that when you finally get out on your own one day, they’ll be packing up the minivan as you hide your tears again, already missing them and their irritating habits.