When Your Adult Kids Have “Settled in” for the Long Haul

A funny thing happened on the way to a vaccine. Some of us ended up quarantining with our young adult children and just like that our houses, our pantries and our laundry baskets were once again filled to overflowing. 

Adult daughter and mom working at home
My young adult kids have “burrowed in.” (Twenty20 @maginnis)

And as tentative and unsettled as it all seemed at the beginning, our children, bless their hearts, now seem to have settled in for the long haul. Actually, “settled in” may be too mild a term for what’s happened here. They have, in fact, “burrowed in.” And, I’ve watched enough National Geographic to know that once a mammal burrows in-it takes a very angry and determined predator to oust it. 

Grown children have moved home and are giving up their apartments

With head-spinning rapidity, my grown children started talking about giving up the leases on their apartments and on their adult lives. And then the boxes and other detritus of their lives slowly began to fill and litter mine. I mean “Why should I pay for an apartment if I’m living here.” It made sense. In fact, it makes perfect sense and is completely, one hundred percent understandable, except for how inconceivable it all is. 

So comfortable have my children become with our new living arrangement, they’ve begun to offer helpful and well-meaning advice for things “we” can do to improve the running of “our”household. The household they are referring to is the one that we are all currently inhabiting but the truth is, it is mine (well mine and that of my husband of 30 some odd years-the children’s father).

Yesterday’s suggestion was the potential need for a whiteboard in the kitchen so that we can keep a running list of groceries as we run out of them. To that I nodded affably, cleared my throat and muttered inaudibly, “I’m not a fan of whiteboards and it’s my house, my house, my house.” 

But, no one was listening. 

Today it was suggested that some of mom’s phone conversations were irritating to those working in the common space, they were too loud and truth be told, somewhat ridiculous. In fact, much of what I do and say these days is quickly, but politely, dismissed as “classic mom being classically mom-like.” To that I cleared my throat and muttered slightly more audibly, “If you don’t like it-it’s my house, my house, my house.” 

But again, no one seemed to be listening. 

How do we encourage them to move along?

In my quiet moments I’ve begun daydreaming of ways to unravel this whole situation. I’ve considered harkening back to days of yore when I woke them all up at some ungodly hour to get ready for school. Never mind that they no longer need to be up at that hour, sounding Reveille at the crack of dawn every day might just do the trick.

Another thought I had while putting away a boat-load of groceries was possibly cutting off this gravy train of their favorite foods. At the beginning I loaded up on Chubby Hubby, Cape Cod potato chips and double-stuffed Oreos because I wanted them to have all their favorite foods. Maybe the time has come to curb the comfort food-fest.

If those mild methods don’t work, I may start inquiring about their love lives. By inquiring, I mean hounding them. Relentlessly. 

I don’t want my adult kids to feel unwelcome because this is their home and they will always be welcome here. There’s a part of me, and it’s not a small part, that loves having them, that welcomes this surprising interlude, that relishes this chance to see who my adult children have really become.

I hope someday I have the opportunity to miss this time, and in some odd way I know I will.

But there’s another small voice and if I listen closely, I can hear it protesting, “After 28 years of hands-on mothering, this is your time now, this is your life, and this is your house, and maybe that whiteboard isn’t such a bad idea after all.” 

More to Read:

My Teens Won’t Return To School In the Fall if We Have the Option for Online Learning, Instead

100 things You Can Teach Your Teen in 15 Minutes or Less

About Helene Wingens

Helene Wingens has always been passionate about painting pictures with words. She graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in psychology and three years later from Boston University School of Law with a Juris Doctor. In a year long clerkship for an appellate judge Helene honed her writing skills by drafting weekly appellate memoranda. She practiced law until she practically perfected it and after taking a brief twenty year hiatus to raise her three children she began writing a personal blog Her essays have been published in: Scary Mommy, Kveller, The Forward, and Grown and Flown where she is Managing Editor. You can visit Helene's website here

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