What I Realized After Moving Back Home With My Parents Because Of The COVID-19 Pandemic

Call your mommy and tell her you love her.
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/KHADIJA HORTON

When I was 16, I couldn't wait to get out of my small town and go to ~NyC~ and ~bE gLaM~ (lol stupid). I definitely never thought I'd be back living in my childhood bedroom, indefinitely, waiting out a pandemic.

Then about a month ago, I crawled home, with my tail between my legs, seeking comfort in Mommy and Daddy when the thought of getting on the dirty-ass NYC subways for two hours each day got to be too much for me. I got nervous with all the news of coronavirus and decided to make a plan and come back home. I am lucky—my parents live driving distance away, and I was able to self-quarantine for a week before getting picked up by them.

They'd both be the first to admit that we didn't have a great relationship growing up (lots of screaming matches, my grandparents having to play referee, etc.).

And so, now I'm stuck in a parallel universe where I am 16 and 26 at the same time, in a situation I never could've imagined, in even my most dramatic of anxiety worst-case-scenarios, but that has slowly become our norm with each new day of nightmare news. I want to protect my family and yell at them when they dare go outside without gloves or get within six feet of each other, but I also want my mommy to hug me and tell me I'm just overthinking everything.

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Is it sad that it took a pandemic for me to realize just how much I truly love both my parents? They'd both be the first to admit that we didn't have a great relationship growing up (lots of screaming matches, my grandparents having to play referee, etc.). I always assumed it'd be this way forever, that once I was out of the house, I'd be back for short enough bursts of time during the holidays that we could all just suck it up and be civil. But being home for a weirdly extended amount of time as an adult has made me appreciate and love my parents so much more, now that I have a (little) bit more context as a grownup.

I'm seeing both my parents in a new light that a little bit of distance over the years and time over the years has made possible.

Things are scary right now, and there's a lot to be nervous about, but I'm trying to find small things to be appreciative of in the meantime. Of course, if I could snap my fingers and undo this entire pandemic, I would. But, I am thankful for the opportunity to go back home and revisit my parents in a way that I don't think I could've or would've if this hadn't happened.

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I'm seeing both my parents in a new light that a little bit of distance over the years and time over the years has made possible. A few days ago, we spent the whole day working on masks as a family to send to medical professionals. Seeing my dad try to keep cool for four hours worth of 19-minute YouTube tutorials (the objective worst kind of tutorial) to fix our broken serger sewing machine (which I had jammed) made me so proud. Shit sucks right now and trying to tamp down your temper in the face of crisis is no easy feat. My hardass, army-vet dad is now our household serger machine expert!

Your parents spend their whole lives trying to protect you from harm's way and now it's our job to make sure they're safe by staying HOME.

Eye-opening experiences aside, I'm also scared for them right now. My parents are older, (not that coronavirus only hits the elderly as we now know), which does mean they'd be in a higher category of risk than me, and their parents in an even riskier category. I'm lucky enough to have a job where I can easily work from home, but it's not that easy for my parents. I've seen them have to fight to work from home, and I hate the thought of them having to go into an office right now, or too soon after people think this is "over." Your parents spend their whole lives trying to protect you from harm's way and now it's our job to make sure they're safe by staying HOME.

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Not everyone can be with their families right now, and staying away from them at this point might be the most loving thing you can do for them, so I'm extra aware of how lucky I am to have this chance. Part of this really does feel like I'm getting a second chance at a good relationship with them and getting to do-over all my nightmare bitch middle and high school years.

Parents are not perfect people, and when I was 16, I thought they were evil. Now I see that they've always been trying their best. I def wasn't the angel I thought I was ten years ago either, and certainly didn't make things easy for them. (The fact that I hoarded enough craft supplies from JoAnn Fabrics in random garbage bags in my closet throughout the years to produce 100+ masks easily says a lot about my very particular lifestyle.) But right now, all anyone can do is try their best and be gracious and kind to one another. We'll all get through this together.

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Maybe it's dumb of me to only have this realization now, but still. I'm thankful for the chance to reexamine my relationship with both of them and so, so happy we can all stay safe home and together for the time being. No matter if you're quarantining with your parents right now, or if you're away, please call your parents and tell them you love them (maybe offer to place a food delivery order?) Now, BRB, because I'm going downstairs to tell mine, too <3.

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.

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