Nine months ago my son asked if he could move back home and take a break from school. Independence sounds great, but . . . He left the rest unsaid, but I understood. He had been suffering from depression for about a year and it had taken its toll. Two semesters had come and gone with little success since his first joyous one in his freshman year. He had isolated himself in his room with only his laptop to keep him company. All the confidence of the past had disappeared. No matter that he had been academically and socially successful during high school or his first semester at college. He no longer believed in himself.
Nine months is a long time. You can grow a human in that time. You can finish a school year, too. Or you can finally get fed up enough with living at home and following your parents’ house rules that you decide to become independent (again). Jacob has gone through a lot in this time. He finally got some medication and therapy to help him begin healing. He also got many job rejections, or rather just silence from the dozens he had applied for – simple, minimum wage jobs that students typically hold. Employers can afford to be picky these days and hire only experienced, older people. He’s still looking. Jacob also lived through the traumatic experience of a house fire and hospitalization. He’s had a few setbacks because of that, but in the end, he has decided to move forward and move out.
There is some irony, however, in leaving your parents’ houses to join a co-op where your parents lived 30 years ago. I admit I think it’s kind of cool – second-generation co-op resident. I had a good time back then, met Jacob’s dad, and fell in love. The fact that our marriage lasted only 14 years doesn’t change my good memories of the co-op. It has an international ‘theme’ and some international students live there, too. Since my son has grown up bilingual and traveled to Europe almost every summer to spend time with his German relatives, I think he’ll fit in well. It’s much smaller than the last place he lived, which is a good thing. He won’t be anonymous, one of many. After a semester, he’ll know everyone there very well, too well, perhaps.
I would be lying if I said his moving out upsets me. In fact, I feel almost giddy at the thought of having the house to myself again. This makes me feel a bit guilty because I love my son (and daughter) more than anyone in the world. I do worry about him, of course, and I suspect he will still take a few steps backwards as he begins stepping forward. But it’s hard living with a 20-year-old son who is resentful and sullen, or as his sister put it so eloquently, ‘pissy all the time.’ I realize this is because he’s dissatisfied with life at the moment. I understand, really. Nevertheless, I’ll be glad when he’s truly launched. We will all be happier.