by Ursula Zeydler
“Please empty the dishwasher, clean the pool, water the plants and fold the laundry. Have you seen the stairs recently? They are due for a repainting. How are you planning on spending the day tomorrow? Will you be home for dinner? And are you redecorating? I thought not. Please tidy your room – guests will be arriving tomorrow.”
So here I am, a 28-year-old recent graduate moving back home with my parents on 30th Street in beautiful Forest Hills, NW. Ten years ago, before I left for my first adventure with independent living – college – I was faced with similar lists. Back then, I ignored, evaded and quite literally hid from my parents to avoid what seemed like a never-ending list of chores and questions that my parents were relentlessly and so obviously doling out because they wanted nothing more than to make my life miserable. And now, after two hard-earned masters degrees, here I am again.
Late this spring, I completed my (fingers crossed) final degree in Education Policy and decided that I would be returning to Washington after having spent a whirlwind decade living in places like Center City Philadelphia, the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and the buzzing intellectual community of Cambridge, Mass. – apparently incapable of straying too far from the I-95 corridor.
I always knew that I would resettle in the District after my various post-high school adventures but was having difficulties securing a job immediately after graduation.
So, I took my parents up on their offer (did they even offer or was it mutually understood once the U-Haul was parked out front?) to move back home temporarily while I continued my quest to become gainfully employed. Soon after, they left for a month long cross-country tour and I was left with the responsibilities of the house.While my 18-year-old self would have rejoiced at this opportunity – an empty house? PARTY! – my 28-year-old self began to fret about juggling my duties. Upon their departure, I found myself totally preoccupied – within a day, I’d become a poolgirl, gardener, chef, pet-sitter, housekeeper, mail sorter, painter – gasp! My newfound responsibility with household duties left me exhausted at the end of each day. I repeatedly found myself contemplating: Is this what it takes to keep a beautiful house, well, beautiful?
Once my parents returned from their travels, I continued with many of my duties in an effort to remain as helpful as possible, realizing how busy my parents are during the day and acknowledging how tiring and time-consuming maintaining a well-run household truly is.
Having accrued new wisdom, I began to understand and, dare I say it, appreciate the lists of Saturday morning chores I was regularly handed while in high school, when our house was full and my parents were even busier than they are now, constantly transporting my sisters and me through a revolving door of athletic and social engagements.
It is obvious that my previous life has changed since returning home with my parents. Have I lost some independence? Of course. Six months ago, no one bothered me if all I had were Doritos on the go for dinner. Now, ugh, I’m stuck with things like kale (actually, with the right amount of seasoning, not so bad after all!) and a regular dinnertime.
Sure, moving back home has its downsides, but what I think I’ve gained from this experience is more significant than the personal sense of independence I’ve temporarily lost. I recently read a blog entry in the Huffington Post that emphasized the importance of expressing gratitude each and every day. When I think about my home, my family, and our wonderful Forest Hills community, I feel so grateful for my parents. Over the course of the past 17 years, they’ve done a tremendous job transforming our once rundown house into a beautiful home and continue to work tirelessly so that they may offer it again during these difficult times.
There are many, including some of my beloved former students in the Bronx, who have neither home nor parents. When I reflect upon my privilege and express gratitude for my current situation, employed or not, I quickly realize that a day full of chores is a small price to pay for the lifetime of security I have been given. And hey, another bright side is that my curfew has been majorly extended and I don’t have to check under every cushion in the house for that extra quarter to finally wash my socks.
Altogether, I guess moving home isn’t so bad after all… And I never thought I’d say this but… it’s actually kind of great. Oh, and one last thing, my Mom is
hovering urgently asking me to include a note seeking ANYONE out there who has a lead within the education policy sector (or is in need of a gardener, poolgirl, etc.) to email, call, fax, snail-mail, knock on the door, send a courier pigeon… Okay, Mom – I get the point. And on that note, I guess I can also admit that I have been craving my Dorito dinners again.