July 2016 was a very stressful month for me. My mother had told me that we were getting evicted from our apartment because she was overdue on rent, by several months. A month before I received this news, I had graduated from college and was hopeful of the future. Those hopes seemed to disappear instantly at the thought that things were not going to be as smooth as I’d envisioned.
We ended up packing our bags and moving back to my grandmother’s old three-bedroom apartment, where my cousin and her boyfriend were. I suddenly found myself cramped in a bedroom with my mother and my dog. Everything was happening rather quickly and I didn’t have the time to sit down and process everything.
A month later my mother found a new apartment and told me when we were going to move. When I told my cousin the news she told me not to go with my mother. I was so confused. “I shouldn’t go with my mom? Are you slow in the head?” I had thought that my cousin was giving me irrational advice. She explained to me the this was the perfect moment for me to finally become independent and that I shouldn’t shy away from the opportunity.
I could continue to stay with my mother, where it (relatively) safe and secure and comfortable. I could also try living without her. After telling my mother I would not be moving with her, she was sad at first but, relented and ultimately supported my decision. Once she left, I had the room all to myself. When I began to start paying rent for my room is when it dawned on me, “my childhood is over.”
Now I was officially an adult. Prior to this moment, I had never considered that becoming an adult had nothing to do with age. Adulthood occurs at the moment when you are responsible for your own well being. Now sure, I could have taken the easy route and continue living with my mom but, that would also be self-limiting.
I finally noticed all of the things that stressed-out my mother and every else that I saw as an authority figure; as an adult. The rent, phone bill, groceries, cleaning supplies, clothing — you name it. I had spent twenty-three years ignorant of all the ways that my mother had supported me since she was only seventeen years old. Now it was my turn to take care of myself. This was the point that I truly understood the value of a dollar and a day of hard work.
There may not be an appropriate and universal age for leaving your parent’s home. However, I do believe that the longer you take to do this, the more jarring the moment will be when it does happen. I would rather leave by choice rather than be forced out. I suppose the proactive approach doesn’t completely prepare you for adulthood but, you do go through the growing pains faster. Adulthood is inevitable. We all might as well take it head-on, no matter how scary it is.
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