‘I moved out of my parents’ house at 29 and I’d never been so scared’
As I stood in my empty childhood (and adulthood) bedroom that had been stripped of pretty much all of my belongings, I felt like my heart was physically hurting.
Me and my mum looked at each other as we stripped the bedding in order to bundle it into a black bin bag (the local corner shop only had so many cardboard boxes they could give me) and add it to all my other stuff, which was now piled into the back of my dad’s van. Each piece stacked precariously in a game of furniture tetris. No words were said, but tears landed on each of our cheeks.
We tried a hug, but we’re not a hugging family so we quickly pulled apart and quietly got back to the task at hand.
This scene may seem dramatic, especially as I am a 29 year old woman moving out of my parents’ home for the second time, but I couldn’t help feeling overwhelmed.
I am part of the boomerang generation – adult children who move back in with their parents after living independently. Whether it’s due to cost of living, saving for a deposit, needing a minute to figure life out or just craving family, it’s a large chunk of us – nearly two thirds of single, child-free 20 to 34-year-olds live with their parents.
When I left for Cardiff university at the tender age of 18 I couldn’t get out of the front door quicker. Armed with a bottle of vodka, my Ikea plates and youthful confidence I felt ready for adulthood.
I was too young and naive to feel scared, and instead just felt excited. Endless games of ring of fire, and squeezing in a few uni lectures kept me distracted. Then I graduated and moved from Birmingham to London to begin my journalism career. It all happened so quickly I didn’t take in the gravity of moving away from the family home as a teenager, and never returning.
Then in early 2020 I headed home to visit my parents for a week. Covid-19 rules meant that I never left again. I rotated the same seven outfits until it was safe to return to my old London flat, pack up and officially move home.
As I was now working from home, it felt like the sensible decision. Plus, I was just enjoying getting to know my parents properly as an adult.
We orchestrated makeshift pub crawls around the house, went on long bike rides along the canals and watched hours of Schitt’s Creek episodes. My dad fixed my things before I even knew they were broken, and my mum was always there to listen to my ‘problems’ over a glass of wine. It was idyllic.
At one point I thought I’d never leave. I made plans in my head to find a boyfriend who’d move in with us, and then when I’d have children there would be four sets of hands. Life sorted.
However, after nearly three years, I craved some independence again and my career made more sense in London now things were open again. So here I was, preparing to move out once more.
I have never been so scared. I doubted my credentials as an adult, and if I could truly function in the real world. What if I leave the house without my keys? How will I come up with seven dinners to cook every single week? What will I do if I have a laundry question? What if I can't sleep because I'm thinking about burglars? What if I'm a person who isn't designed to live without their parents? Of course, I was forgetting this isn't my first rodeo.
If you’re lucky enough to have a good relationship with your parents, then there’s probably always a part of us that craves being looked after by them. If I ever need to recharge, or metaphorically go back to factory settings, then there’s only two people I want around.
I won’t miss my mum turning on my bedroom light at 11pm when I’m clearly asleep to discuss something that could definitely wait until tomorrow, or debating with my dad over our differing political views.
But I will miss so much, and maybe it’s okay that I'm constantly petrified – because aren't we all just winging it?
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