It’s been a hard couple of years since my last relationship fell apart and I found myself starting over (not for the first time) in a new place. At least this time around I didn’t have two young children depending on me. My two sons were now living away from home and for the first time in my life I was living on my own and I loved it!
But then my youngest son moved back in two years ago and ad revenue from my website plummeted on the back of a drop in consumer confidence. These two things coupled with a sharp rise in the cost of living in Sydney (one of the world’s most expensive cities) put me in dire straits.
So when my son told me he was moving back to the country and my brother suggested I move back in with our 69 year old mother, I jumped at the chance to live rent-free. There was one hitch, our younger sister was still living at home. When we argue it’s like we’re teenagers sharing a bedroom again, even though we are both well into our 40’s. But I was willing to make more of an effort to get along with her for our mother – who is still grieving the loss of her partner who passed away from Cancer in July this year.
So the date was set for my returning home after 25 years. I was excited and I couldn’t wait to share the news with my family and friends on Facebook. “I’m moving back home!” I said and then proceeded to prattle on about what I was looking forward to most about returning to the place where I came of age.
Since our Dad passed away in 2010 I have lived with the regret that I didn’t spend more time with him. So moving back in with mum would give me the opportunity to spend more time with my only surviving parent and I saw that as a very good thing. But I can’t deny that a big part of my decision was financial and I was thinking about all the money I would save not having to pay rent because my mother owns the house. But then reality set in yesterday…
I rang my sister for our birthday (we were born on the same day but in different years) and she complained to me that there was no food in the house. I knew she had received her Disability Pension on Friday and I wanted to ask her why she was broke just two days after payday and why she hadn’t given our mother any money to buy food? But I didn’t want to start an argument so close to my moving in day and besides, I already knew the answer. You see, my 43 year old sister is a drug addict. She says it’s just marijuana these days but my brother and I have our doubts.
I called my brother and that’s when I discovered the ‘real reason’ he wanted me to move back home. Apparently, our younger sister has become a bit of a tyrant since our mum’s partner passed away. When he was alive John always made sure that she contributed to the household financially and that she didn’t misbehave (as ex-meth addicts are prone to do). Now that he’s gone, our aging mother has lost control of her own household and my brother is depending on me to reign our little sister in.
The mother I remember would never have put up with being pushed around and taken advantage of by anyone, especially one of her own children. But as one boomeranger put it, “Boomerangers remember their parents as they were, not as they are.” However, as I’ve discovered myself in recent years, the one thing we want most in life as we age, is ‘peace’ and some people will put up with just about anything for a little peace and quiet at home.
This got me thinking and that got me Googling and that’s when I discovered to my horror that moving back home in middle age is… well, it’s a bit scary really!
While it’s estimated that millions of middle-aged kids around the world have moved back in with their parents (mostly for financial reasons), I couldn’t find one positive story among the hundreds, possibly thousands of stories floating around in cyberspace. While every situation is unique, those who have spoken about moving back in with their parents have only negative things to say about it.
While I’m not technically a boomeranger (at 45 I’m a Generation-Xer) I can certainly relate to the feelings many of them have about not being able to live independently from their parents in middle age.
At this stage of my life it certainly feels like I’m taking a giant step backwards. At this stage of my life I expected to have some financial security, maybe even a home of my own. I am told there is still time for all that – particularly now that the Australian Government is increasing the pension age to 70 – but the clock is ticking and if I’m not careful, I could be living at home for the rest of my mother’s life or God forbid, for the rest of my sister’s life!
But at the end of the day, do we have any right to complain about living at home in middle age when so many of our contemporaries are couch-surfing or worse still, sleeping-rough on the streets?
Moving day is next week, 25th September 2014. Wish my luck because apparently I’m going to need it. I’ll let you know how it goes.
To be continued…