At 34 years old, I found myself jobless and living with my parents. From the outside, it easily looked like another failure to launch story. But really, it was a third-life crisis story. I was making the ultimate leap of faith – leaving my successful corporate career to pursue my dream job. With a serious drop in income – from six figures to zero figures – I had to significantly cut expenses in order to stretch out the money I had saved, and my parents were willing to house me until I got back on my feet. Or rather, until I got up on my new feet.
It was an adjustment for all of us. I had to get over the ego blow that I was living with my parents at my age, they had to get used to their nest no longer being empty, and we all had to accept the inherent decrease in privacy. To add to that, they had recently downsized from the large house I grew up in to a condo at the beach. They were in a transition period as well – settling into retirement. It was a stage of life where they were supposed to be caring for their grandchildren, not one of their adult children. But there they were, not just allowing me but helping me “move back home.”
We had our fair share of hysterical moments, like when my mother – not knowing I was there – stormed out of her bedroom, fresh out of the shower and completely naked, frantically looking for her coffee. There were bonding moments, like standing in the kitchen talking about our days or waking up early to watch the sunrise with my dad. And there were trying moments as well as we all learned how to navigate each other’s schedules, moods, and bad days. But my favorite moments were the smallest ones: my dad’s excited “Hey!” every time I walked in the door, the sounds and smells of my mother cooking dinner, and saying goodnight to them both as I headed off to bed.
I see now that it was a gift of time – time spent together as adults. But more than that, it was a gift of perspective. So often as we get older – parents and children alike – we struggle to understand each other. The shift from living together every day to catching up every so often brings a certain level of distance, an inability to close the gap as we move through our different stages of life. My parents and I were given a rare, intimate glimpse into each other’s current stage. Time to see, understand, and appreciate the transitions. Time to close the gap.
If there’s one thing that moving in with my parents in my thirties taught me, it’s that life is always going to bring transitions, changes, and different stages. And it’s all too easy to view certain times as embarrassing, scary, or uncomfortable. But if you look hard enough, you can always find the gift in them.