As I write this, I’m facing a countdown to getting my wisdom teeth removed. Less than 24 hours, and I’ll have finished with another of those procedures, woes, and rites of passage that plague adolescence.
The removal of wisdom teeth seems particularly paradoxical, if taken with that oh-so-convenient joke about wisdom teeth and actual wisdom. I’ve been gradually abandoning those aforementioned adolescent rites of passage, what with growin’ up, movin’ out, and takin’ on more of those adult responsibilities that nobody likes. Even as I get older though, and assumedly wiser, any alleged wisdom will always be curbed by my youth.
I’ll be staying at my parents’ for the first time since I moved out while I recover from surgery, and the prospect of returning to my parents’ for this procedure which is so closely associated with youth is emphasizing how both young and not-young I am now. I live on my own, work full-time, go to school full-time, and my life decisions don’t always require my parents’ approval anymore; conversely, I will continue to need my parents for financial support (especially for pricy medical procedures, like the looming orthodontic ordeal), and I’ll always need their emotional support and advice.
It’s a bizarre tension between moving away from childhood and remaining squarely in juvenescence, and it’s a tension I expect I’ll stay in for years to come. As just one example, Millennials’ financial prospects are uncertain at best: we’re slowly edging out Baby Boomers; gradually paying off debt accrued through studying for degrees that are supposed to hook us high-paying jobs but which, in all likelihood, won’t present tangible reward anytime soon; and facing down market insecurity created by Baby Boomers’ financial shenanigans. This should go great, right?
It’s why we’re living with our parents, putting off getting married or having kids, and staying in school as long as possible to avoid entering the “real world.” We inhabit the nebulous territory of adults with adult obligations, who can’t quite function without someone propping us up in the right direction.
Unsurprisingly, existing in tension can be uncomfortable and off-putting at times. Grateful as I am that I can accept my parents’ generosity, I’m looking forward to the day when I can be more or less financially independent. The freedom of having my parents to fall back on if I need to is great, but having moved out I feel less and less like I should take advantage of their help. As much as I know they’re always there for me, part of growing up is having those awful, horrendous responsibilities that nobody wants. I don’t especially want to grow up and start worrying about silly adult concerns—did I use too much hydro this month?—but I also don’t want to be a perpetual Peter Pan.
Staying with my parents, while delightful, emphasizes for me how much I appreciate living on my own. Don’t get me wrong, they’re wonderful and lovely, and they coddle me just right when I’m recovering from surgery; but my home isn’t with them anymore. I’ve forged a home that’s with my roommate and his cat, and our rotating door of couch-crashers following an evening of hookah and snacks. My life is different from what it was when I lived with my parents.
Every time I see my mom, she double-checks in her maternally protective way if I’m doing ok: “Are you alright? Do you need anything?” I do miss my brother and parents, living relatively close to them in the Lower Mainland but far enough away that coming out for family dinners can be a trek; on the whole though, moving out was among the best things I could have done for myself. It’s pushed me to grow up, in a way that I wouldn’t have if I’d stayed with my parents. While I relish in visiting my family and being cared for as only parents can, I’ll revel in returning home.