I’m 30, Living with My Mom, & Not (Too) Embarrassed About It

I’m a city girl through & through, although maybe I shouldn’t call myself a “girl” anymore. After all, I turned 30 over the summer, & society seems to have deemed this the age at which I’m officially an adult. But whatever. The fact remains: I really, really love living in a big city.

And yet those two things — my newly achieved adulthood status & my love of city living — are directly contrary to the move I just completed: back into my mom’s house in the suburbs.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t a difficult or painful decision to make. Much as I loved my life in Washington, D.C., I’d long considered returning to my home state to try to make a go of it in Cleveland, a city that’s experiencing an exciting resurgence I’m eager to be a part of. I could never quite afford to live in D.C., anyway, & I was never going to become a doctor or a lawyer or a lobbyist, the kind of person who could foot the bill for a comfortable life there. Instead, I was consigning old clothes & taking on freelance work to supplement my income so I could make my $1,400-a-month rent payments & have a social life — but still spending five nights a week watching Netflix & eating Lean Cuisines.

One day, while visiting Ohio, it dawned on me: “I could move right now. I don’t have to wait for anything!” As a social media manager, I work from home & have the blessing of being able to take my job on the road with me. So why keep hemorrhaging money in D.C. if I could head back to Ohio & start the next phase of my life, extra cash in hand… immediately?

As it turns out, my realization was a bit of fate. I returned to D.C. that week to find that my rent would increase by nearly $100 come December. & so it was decided: Hasta la vista, city life! I began to plan my move back to Ohio — to my mom’s house in the suburbs of Ohio, to be specific.

I thought I would feel a lot worse about it, frankly. After all, what 30-year-old woman wants to say she lives with her parents? I imagined awkwardly explaining my residential situation to new friends, or telling prospective dates that, yes, I have a full-time job & a not-weird personality, but yes, I also just willingly moved back into my mom’s house. (Hey, at least it’s not a basement…)

It’s definitely kind of weird, & I foresee some uncomfortable explanations in my future. Mostly, though, I’m just grateful: grateful that my mom & I are close, grateful that I have a mom at all, grateful that she’s willing & able to share her home with me again.

I’m also trying to remind myself that I’m not the only one giving something up. As much as I’ll miss living on my own in the city, this will be an upheaval for my mom, too. After all, she’s lived alone for the better part of a decade. She goes dancing with friends, takes Zumba classes at the local gym, & take 30-mile bike rides. She’s grown accustomed to her solo life, & I can’t imagine she’s necessarily enthusiastic about hosting her grown daughter again after all these years. Still, as soon as I mentioned moving back, she offered: “You can stay with me while you figure it out, if you want.”

So that’s the plan. I’m already swooning at the idea of putting my current rent payments toward my college loan debt, at the thought of being able to squirrel much more into savings than I’m currently managing, & at the prospect of eventually finding an apartment in Cleveland that fulfills my city dreams but doesn’t also break the bank. & you know what? I’m pretty excited about spending time with my mom again, too.

I used to feel bad for the people I graduated high school with who still live in our hometown. “What a shame,” I’d tell myself, reflecting on my glamorous (orrr something) city life on the East Coast. “There’s so much they’re missing out on!” & while that is, to some extent, true, who am I to call it a shame that when someone decides to live a life different from my own? A myopic, judgmental, small-minded jerk, that’s who. The last time I was home, I realized that my thinking has finally — thankfully — shifted. Now, I see those people’s lives as another option, another path — not better or worse than mine, just different.

The day I decided to move, Jimmy Eat World’s “Lucky Denver Mint” came up on my iTunes shuffle. The refrain goes, “You’re not bigger than this, not better, why can’t you learn?” I’ve been listening to the song for years, but that day, I let the lyrics play over & over in my head, really sinking in.

I may be a city girl (err, woman), but I’m not above the small town that raised me. I may be 30, but I’m not above crashing with my mom while I save some money in an effort to become a better, more stable adult. I’m not bigger than this, I’m not better than this, & after 10 years of pursuing life elsewhere, I’m ready to learn whatever lessons small-town Ohio has to teach me.

Author Thomas Wolfe once wrote, “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood.” He was right about that last part (I’m still waiting on time travel!), but as for the rest? I’m calling Tom’s bluff. At age 30, I’m home — & I feel damn good about it.

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