By Shelley Murphy
Summer wouldn’t be complete without barbeques, beaches, baseball—and, of course, rental trucks.
My least favorite summertime tradition is renting a U-Haul and helping one of my sons move into a new apartment, yet it occurs annually. Last month, my younger son started packing up his possessions.
Unlike previous years, I eagerly awaited his moving day. This time, after loading the truck, I didn’t drive his belongings to another dilapidated dwelling; instead, I followed the familiar path to our family home.
When I tell friends that my younger son is living at home, reactions range from puzzlement to pity, and support to sorrow.
I count myself in the camp of parents welcoming home our recent college graduates. I admit I’m nostalgic for the past, but I’m also excited for the future—next month, my son starts law school.
While he is home, I’ll get a glimpse into his world and the opportunity to know my son as an adult.
In my day, the stigma of moving back in with the parents stung. Today, when a young adult returns home, it isn’t considered a failure to launch, nor is it a judgment on parenting skills; it’s a trend on the rise.
According to a recent United States Census Bureau report, “A third of young people, or 24 million of those aged 18 to 34, lived under their parents’ roof in 2015.”
CBS News reports the U. S. has the highest percentage of young adults living at home since 1940.
Circumstances contributing to the increase in figures include the competitive labor market, the increasing cost of living and soaring student debt.
Statistics are staggering: student-loan debt is the second-highest consumer debt category, and the debt in 2019 is the highest ever at $1.5 trillion.
Moving home wasn’t an easy decision for my son. The prospect of returning to his childhood bedroom didn’t top his list of post-graduate goals. But after committing to a law school that urges first-year students to forgo employment, his options narrowed.
Also, he thought that living at home would help him resist temptations inherent in rooming with his peers. At our house, if my husband and I are awake at 5 a.m., it’s to start the day, not end the night.
With an increase in college kids returning to the nest, there’s an abundance of advice on negotiating the roommate relationship. Well-meaning websites suggest potential roomies compile a pros-and-cons list.
My list of pros far outweighs the cons.
My younger son’s return provides me with a personal technology whiz who can fix complex computer problems, decipher features on my iPhone and program television remotes.
He can dog-sit when needed, saving us the cost of an expensive canine camp.
My son is also equipped with the uppe- body strength necessary to haul bulky boxes from the garage and hoist them into the attic.
My cons list is short. He finds my obsession with the Bravo network disturbing, and we’re struggling to strike a balance between my favorite channel and his beloved ESPN.
Excluding television programming, we enjoy many of the same things: competitive trivia quiz nights, comical political shows and cuisine from kids’ menus.
Although we have a lot in common, he is a different person since he last lived at home.
After spending four years providing for himself, he appreciates and understands the effort put into a home-cooked meal and wrinkle-free laundry.
I know my son doesn’t need me to put dinner on the table. When I decide to make a meal, it’s because I relish in taking care of my boys, regardless of the number of candles on their birthday cakes.
My favorite job of all is mom; it’s the one I’ve worked hardest at and the one with the best benefits.
I realize my son’s time at home is temporary, so I plan on enjoying this perk and savoring our time together.
Indeed, you can go home again.
Shelley Murphy has lived in San Clemente with her husband for the past 21 years, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to the San Clemente Times since 2006.