Photo by Studio D – Fotolia
My parents recently suggested I consolidate and refinance my student loans—something I didn’t even know was possible (I’m saving thousands of dollars!). The application required a copy of my college degree, so I brushed the dust off a cardboard box to look for it amid a graduation cap, cards, photos, and a “Welcome Home” sign.
After major events in my life, I’d often come home to find such a sign on the door. “Welcome Home, Middle Schooler!” (Yay, I’m a big kid!) “Welcome Home, High School Senior!” (Really, Mom and Dad?) The sign I found in the box said, “Welcome Home, College Graduate!” (Oh my god. Another sign.)
That last one had been waiting for me when we pulled into the driveway with a truck full of possessions from my college apartment. “Home again, home again, jiggity-jig,” my mom chimed, a line from a nursery rhyme she’s used since I was in a car seat. It’s her way of expressing the comfort of being home. But that day I wished I were far outside my comfort zone, moving into a new apartment in Chicago or New York City, somewhere other than the Twin Cities suburb where I grew up.
About 21 million American millennials (age 18-31) live in their parents’ home—the highest number in at least four decades. When I first moved back in, my parents and I acted like roommates who simply shared space. But over time, old habits resurfaced. They have dinner ready every night when I come home from work, they do my laundry (“I can just throw yours in. Why waste water?”), remind me to take vitamins, scold me for eating hot fudge straight out of the jar, and badger me to call the loan company.
I’m thankful for the help, but it makes me doubt my independence. Do my parents think I can’t make it on my own? Even when I remind Mom that I don’t need assistance, she can’t help but intervene. “Once a parent, always a parent,” she’s remarked.
A few weeks ago, when my car broke down, I called my parents, knowing Dad might be able to fix the problem. They both came to meet me, and after determining professional help was required, Dad called the tow truck before I even had a chance to look up the number. During the hour-long wait, I was surprised that neither of my parents mentioned the inconvenience of coming to my rescue. Rather, we listened to the radio and joked about the time Dad fooled me into thinking my car needed “blinker fluid.”
Once we were back, driving into the garage, Mom faintly said, “Home again, home again.”
“Jiggity-jig,” I finished for her.
I may soon be in the market for a new car—a prospect that would terrify many, but excites me. Three years of living at home has allowed me to save enough money to stockpile an emergency fund, but also to move out this summer.
Being able to pay for that tow truck made me feel more like an adult than I have in awhile, even though my parents had saved me from being stranded by the road. I didn’t need my parents, but I’m sure glad they were there, just as I’ve appreciated having a little bit more time to be home with them again (jiggity-jig)