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A Millennial’s Musings on Leaving the Nest ... Again

Out for a stroll with mom, my roomie

At 32, I didn’t expect to move into my mom’s basement. I also didn’t expect to miss it so much, now that I’m gone.

I wrote about my living situation in October. My boyfriend, Joe, and I were just back from Thailand, where I finished my master’s degree and he taught at a university. With our belongings locked in storage, we — yes, both of us — moved in with my mom while we searched for jobs and found our footing.

All in all, it took four months. We moved out last week. And while things are going well in our new city (I love my job, we found an apartment in record time), life feels a little … empty.

I miss my mom and her partner, Todd. So does Joe. It’s the little things I miss most, like going on Sunday walks together and sitting around the table after dinner. It was a special chapter, all being under one roof.

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Not everyone is on board with adult children boomeranging back home, and that’s OK. This is perhaps my favorite comment, paraphrased, from the  Facebook debate sparked by my October post: “Millennial,” French word for lazy.

People are entitled to their opinions, based on their experiences and worldviews. And in the United States, we value independence, often above all else. For many, 18 is when you strike out on your own, and any deviation from that plan (barring one due to severe illness or the like) is considered a failure to launch. You grow up and you get out, for good.

But is that the only way to do it? No. Is that the best way to do it? I’m not so convinced anymore.

One night, we cooked Thai and mom wore a sarong.

After 14 years of living across the country and around the world, being just a floor away from my mom was such a luxury. It allowed us to know each other’s day-to-day doings. We weren’t playing catch-up over text, phone or FaceTime, quickly sharing our highlights. We weren’t cramming in quality time over a holiday break or long weekend. For the first time,  we were experiencing life together as adults, and that’s something I’ll always treasure.

I’m also thankful that my mom and Todd had a chance to come to know Joe, and vice versa. We’d made time before — those breaks and long weekends — but not like this. Not like eating-cereal-in-your-pajamas time. Maybe my friends and I have gotten it all wrong about living with our partners before marriage. Perhaps we should live together, but with a set of future in-laws and see how that goes before we say, “I do.”

Of course, situations, circumstances and relationships vary. My mom and I have always been close, and I’m sure that factored into how well this worked.

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But maybe we should reconsider the black-and-white idea of making it on our own. My months back home made me realize that we might be missing out on something big when we do: each other.

Photos: Courtesy of Laura Hahn

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