What I wish I knew when I moved back in with my mom after a breakup
Once you’re grown, deep into your own routines and such, it’s definitely not ideal to move back in with a parent or relative. In fact, it’s an often humbling realization that you’re not as good at adulting as you thought. For me, this move-in happened when my 4-year marriage abruptly ended. At the ripe old age of 22, nowhere to go and no backup plan for something like divorce, I packed my things and moved into the new house my mom and stepdad had just settled into. A new town, a sort-of new start. Right? Not really. Once I married off out of high school, I was supposed to stay gone. That was the initial idea of exchanging vows but sometimes the love doesn’t last, no matter how hard you try to hold the relationship together. That’s where I landed.
My younger brother had just graduated high school and joined the Marines at the time so while my mom and stepdad should’ve had that time to enjoy the quiet, empty house, there I was, bags, and broken heart, in hand. To be fair, I waited as long as possible to intrude on their togetherness and even the thought of it made me nauseated. So, I stayed with a close friend for a few days first, hoping to figure it all out —hoping my life would miraculously piece itself back together — but when those plans also failed, I literally had nowhere else to go. I couldn’t move back in with my Gram for the third time. She’d already been so gracious all those times that former husband and I split up before the eventual demise and she was getting too old for my shenanigans. I knew this. I felt alone and scared about the future and like a really lost human to the core. But out of this whole experience when I finally moved back in with my mom, I learned a lot about her, my stepdad, and mostly, myself.
I’m still a child
Yes, even in my 20’s, when living under my mother’s roof, I would always be considered an incapable, irresponsible, dependent child (my words, not hers!). As mothers do, she would often remind me to pick up after myself or nag about something done or not done – just like she did when I was little, and rightfully so. This was their brand new house, after all, and I was but a mere guest. Though, it sure brought back a lot of memories I thought I’d outgrown. Spoiler alert: Your parents never stop being parents! If they cut your food at age three, they always will and on the flip side, if they chew you out for staying out too late at seventeen, as long as you live with them they will do this, too! I soon learned that to be respected as a grown woman, it was imperative I start acting like one. And not just in my eyes but in the eyes of both my mother and stepfather. This meant paying bills and, eventually, finding a place of my own. For me, this was in another state entirely!
It’s okay to start over
Life happens. It’s inevitable that things may not always go your way. This might mean having to scratch out your previous plan and write a new one. You may or may not be ready for it. I wasn’t ready even a little bit! But I also couldn’t have known my marriage would go south or that I’d need to find my own way in the middle of this life I had mapped out just so. That’s the thing of beauty, though. If life always went according to plan, so many wonderful variations on your journey may never happen. I’m so grateful to my mom and stepdad for allowing me back into their home at a time when it wasn’t the best timing for anyone. Sometimes the time is never right to start over. You just have to close your eyes and trust the process.
It might not be ideal but that’s OK
Situations such as this only help you grow as a person. Seriously. I mean, sleeping in that tiny twin bed, in a room that wasn’t mine, at a time I thought I’d be onto bigger and better? Definitely not where I pictured I’d be at that time! But stewing about it wouldn’t have helped anything. Yes, I was embarrassed to be back at home and no, I had no idea where to go from there. The only thing to do was accept this as part of my journey and, as I said, write that new plan. Starting over happens to the best of us. Ideal or not, it’s part of growing up. The sooner you accept this, the easier the transition will be.
Always be respectful
Living with your parents once you’ve been out of the house is a challenge for all. They may have their own routines in place (as do you) that you’re throwing a great big wrench in. Just remember you’re the guest. Follow the rules they have set even if they seem trivial. I didn’t follow these rules all the time. I went out a lot and often shirked my responsibilities. I could argue this was how I coped with the divorce, and my overall life in turmoil, but it only placed more discomfort on my mom and stepdad’s shoulders and that, I regret. They didn’t need to worry about things like that and it wasn’t fair of me to take advantage of their kindness. Being back at home is meant to be a temporary haven, not a forever thing, while you get it together. So be grateful and always respectful.
Life will be normal again, eventually
This whole thing can definitely suck sometimes. But you’ll find your way back to the life you envisioned at some point. Be patient with yourself and with whoever you’ve moved in with. Learning to adjust after a breakup, or loss, or whatever the reason, is key. If you can find a way to make the most out of this situation, you’ll most definitely come out of it the adult you thought you were all along.
(Image via Paramount Pictures)