I moved in with my parents after COVID-19 hit CU Boulder’s campus in the Spring of 2020. At first, it was wonderful-homemade meals, plenty of snuggles from my two dogs, and even spending time with my younger brother who’s growing up way too fast. I was thankful to have these moments that I normally wouldn’t get while off at college. However, when I decided to stay at home and take classes remotely for the fall semester, things began to change. All of the sudden, I was subjected to the rules and expectations I had grown out of after high school. I heard the dreaded words: “My house, my rules”. What happens when your parents see you as an independent adult, but also their child?
My parents are loving people with high expectations of how a household should function. I am extremely grateful for all they have sacrificed for me, and I hope I can make them proud. However, when my sweet mother comes a-knockin at my door at 9 a.m on a weekend, the good vibes quickly disappear. When a parent brings up the fact that you’re being allowed to live in their home without even paying rent, all diplomatic discourse can be thrown out the window. Don’t get me wrong, I have a positive relationship with my parents. If that wasn’t the case, I would not have lived with them during my junior year of college. However, you must become partners in a power struggle that is just under the surface.
It’s a quick descent into animosity when you and your parents realize you all must come to terms with each others’ personalities. As you grow older, you realize your parents aren’t “parents”, but also people with their own quirks and personal histories. And of course, your parents realize you are not the same person they tearfully dropped off at college three years ago. I didn’t think I had changed that much, but the wardrobe I unpacked into my childhood closet signaled a shift to my parents (at least in modesty). Apparently living in Boulder has led me to acquire a sense of style that veers into costume territory (In my opinion, retro go-go boots are a staple and not just part of an Austin Powers Halloween costume). Acclimating to each others’ choices and lifestyles has taken time. [bf_image id="qb00c6-5n4clk-9frk23"] Of course, you also come to understand that your parents’ world does not revolve around you. You find the place you once held in their lives has been replaced by some strange hobby (my father has started to ferment his own alcohol) or worse--a younger sibling. My parents see themselves as my counselors, not my guardians. This means they can focus on your other siblings, their careers, or writing autobiographies. My mom and I have insightful conversations nearly every day, and my dad will invite me into his study to talk about his record collection. But a household is a tight ship to run. The family calendar will be the death of me. Every class, work shift, and meeting is scheduled so that no one is out of the loop. It’s a good system that works but is very different from sleeping until 1 pm after a night out on the hill. At the same time, there are mornings when I rise before everyone else, leave for work, and return only to find everyone still sleeping. I can understand my mom’s frustration when she is the only one to greet the day with a productive morning.
[bf_image id="q7i70r-695kxc-3qorev"] The good news is, I’m no longer eating Pop-Tarts and Instant Ramen for breakfast and dinner. My mom spoils me with her cooking and we get to catch up on all our favorite shows while we eat. My dad shows me Facebook videos and gives me great book recommendations. He’s also perfected his margarita recipe, with jalapeno-infused agave nectar. As I write this, I worry about sounding ungrateful or rude. I love my parents and couldn’t be happier living at home, even though I miss walking to class on misty mornings and the joy that is the first sip of a warm White Claw in a frat basement. I miss my friends the most, but I’m still able to catch them on Zoom or visit them in Boulder when I feel up to making the hour-long drive. My mom is always gracious and glad to have them stay over for a weekend. I find parts of Boulder life in my own home. I feel like a Ralphie Runner when I chase my troublesome beagle down the street after he slips through the front door. My dad makes vegan protein shakes every morning and my brother blares his music over the speakers after dinner. I still haven’t convinced our parents to let us dance on the tables and pretend they’re elevated surfaces, but I think my mom will let it slide just this once.