A few years ago, I took that exciting leap of moving in with "The One." We were in love and full of hopes for our future.
Fast forward a couple of years: "The One" and I realized that we were a wee bit mistaken and decided to amicably go our separate ways.
And so I moved back in with my mother.
I may be part of the "Boomerang Generation," but the decision was still fraught with emotion.
I felt comforted as a daughter, yet less secure as a woman. I felt so grateful that I could depend on family, yet so defeated that I could not stand on my own.
There is no way to sugarcoat the experience of moving back in with your mother as a grown woman: it's a generational apocalypse.
However, as time went on, we actually figured out how to coexist. Just like all experiences in life, this one was an incredible opportunity for growth.
These are the invaluable life lessons that I learned after moving back in with my mother:
1. We are a LOT more alike than I thought.
Living close to my mother as an adult helped me recognize and accept certain parts of myself, and very quickly. I can see myself in her love for affection, nurturing nature, and creativity. I can hear myself in her laugh.
I can also see myself in her stubbornness, moments of spicy attitude, and borderline-OCD organization. Being aware of these things has given me the opportunity to be more grateful for her as a person, strengthen the traits I admire, and work on the ones I don’t.
2. We are a LOT more different than I thought.
Hold it on account of my being a first-generation American, having inherited my more obvious traits from my father, or simply being a different individual altogether; but just as the similarities I hadn’t noticed growing up became eye-opening, so did the differences. My mom likes to collect things- lots of things- and she finds comfort in clutter; I like to detach from all things and clutter makes me anxious. My mom loves her telenovelas (that’s Spanish soap operas; and, yes, they really are that dramatic) and watching the news every day; I can barely stand the sound of any news channel, or any soap opera, even from across the house. Neither of us may ever fully understand the others’ habits or past times, but living in such surroundings proved to be a powerful practice in acceptance.
3. Patience is vital.
Patience is key in order to get through the transition of moving back in with your mother, and maintaining sanity as an adult female. There are times when biting your tongue or centering yourself IS the best choice to make, regardless to how right you are (or think you are).
Right around when I was beginning to feel pride in how exceedingly patient I grew to be, I moved back in with my mother. Does anyone actually want something as small as forgetting to clean your hair from the shower drain to snowball into an interrogation of when you plan on getting married and having someone’s grandchildren? If not, the best answer is: stop, breathe, say OK, and walk away.
4. ... But airing things out is worth it.
Festering or holding on to any negative emotions is intensely unproductive, and actually harmful. Sometimes we don’t brush things off successfully, and we can actually feel that tense energy slowly becoming resentment, which goes hand-in-hand with being unhappily drained.
When that happens, it not only takes away from you, your mother, and the relationship between you, but it's also felt by anyone around you. I learned to do myself and everyone else a favor by putting it all on the table every once in a while. More often than not, it ended with a tearful hug, better understanding, and reassurance of the bond we share.
5. Nothing compares to a mother-daughter bond.
After having lived with her again for a relatively short time, I found myself comparing our relationship to that of my friends' with their mother. I’d see theirs as more of a best-friendship: they could have relaxed conversations, and just have fun together. Meanwhile, my mother and I have always been less “best friend” and more “mom and daughter.”
I realized that, just like comparing yourself to anything else in life, it only made me feel as though there was something wrong with my own relationship with my own mother. The fact is, there wasn’t.
Each relationship we have with any other person is a unique entity of itself that is incomparable. No one else’s relationship with their mother defines mine, only my mother and I will ever experience and define what we share. Our bond is matchless, different, and beautiful.
One of the most important things I learned is that although each woman’s relationship with her mother is exclusive at the core, it is not an exception to any other relationship on the surface. It goes through ups
and downs, requires work at times, and is constantly changing. And that is perfectly okay. Just as with any other relationship, it provides a priceless chance to learn about ourselves, grow into who we really are, and love with all of our heart.
It’s common to hear how much better women get along with their mothers once they move out of the house... but the funny part? How they always end up missing so many little things they never thought they would.
To my own amazing, trinket-loving Mama: Thank you. I love you.