Last weekend I went on vacation with my mom’s side of the family in a big, beautiful house by a lake in the Adirondacks. Though my grandma drove me a little bonkers and the weather wasn’t all that great, I had such a good time just being with my family under one roof.
Since graduating from college, I moved into an apartment with my boyfriend in Rochester. After four years of living five hours from my family for most of the year, I am now 4.5 hours away permanently. With the chaos that is graduating college, the scramble to find a job and the apartment hunt, all of this monumental change happened before I even had a moment to process it. Being on this vacation was the first time I’ve gotten to spend a few days in a row with my family in so long that when I had to leave, I was consumed with the gut-wrenching realization that I am now an adult. This is how life is going to be from now on: me scrambling for a few consecutive days to see my family, to see my mother, my father, and my sister most of all.
In college I was away from home for a large chunk of the year, true, but I always came home eventually for breaks and vacation, etc. I always knew that at the end of the semester I would be living back home, settling into my childhood room, re-introducing myself to a living routine at each of my parents’ houses. But now, while home will always be home to me, it is not somewhere I know I’m going to land again after a specific chunk of time. I will never again complain that my dad never buys food or that my mom makes me unload the dishwasher. I will arrive to family vacations separately in the middle of the week and leave separately when the weekend is over. I can’t ask my mom to buy ingredients to cook meals with every time she goes grocery shopping or sit on her bed when she gets ready for work before I go to school. I don’t wake up to a note from my dad every morning, a half a pot of coffee waiting for me.
I am happy, really, happier now than I ever have been. I love my apartment, the guy I share it with, my lifelong friends, and the experience of making new friends. I have a stable job in my field and exercise and eat quality foods daily. I am lucky, and I know it. But when I was saying goodbye to my mom in the driveway of the lake house, I felt myself saying goodbye to my childhood, my life at home. The touch of my mother’s hand on the back of my head, the smell of her victoria’s secret perfume that she adores, the unmistakable sound of her kiss on my cheek and the look in her eyes that said she felt the end of my childhood, too.
Since last weekend, I have been more homesick and starving for the love of my parents more than I have since I was 18 and moved into my first dorm room. I constantly want to talk to my mom, tell her how much I just love her, how proud I am to possess the traits she bestowed upon me. I want to tell her that there is no woman in the world I find more awe-inspiring, more beautiful.
I grew up with quite a dysfunctional family and ever-changing living situation, but in hindsight, I am now more grateful than ever for my family. I love them more than words can say. Though we grew up unconventionally, I consider myself lucky to have gotten to know my parents as people, as flawed human beings with imperfections, quirks, fears, and desires of their own. As an adult, I respect them completely for who they are and feel that I love them on a level most children never grow to love their parents.
Being a kid and living at home is something that I never get to relive again. I do not miss the awkward insecurity that is being an adolescent or the turmoil of coming from a multiple-times broken home, but I miss getting to see the faces of the ones who made me, whose blood I share, whose habits, voices, mannerisms, routines I know oh so well. It is gone, and life is fleeting so take a moment and appreciate the ones who love you the most, who are stuck with you forever, whether you’re under their roof or have left the nest.