Somewhere in the depths of my handbag is a set of keys. Whenever I pull them out they dangle brightly from the chain in front of my face, a glorious symbol of my hard-fought-for independence – a house of my own.
But it’s an independence I’m reluctant to accept. In fact these days I’m quite comfortable where I am, thank you very much.
It’s a statistic we’ve all heard. More adults are choosing to live at home with their parents than ever before. In fact, according to the 2006 census by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this number has reached a whopping 23 per cent of people aged 20 to 34 years old.
And to my surprise I’ve recently become one of them.
Years ago when I was barely out of my teens I took the leap into independence, packed up my few meagre possessions and moved into a rickety share house.
As I worked my way through university I used to amaze at this statistic, wondering curiously (and, I’ll admit it now, a little judgmentally) about those people who – for whatever reason – didn’t declare their independence, head out into the world on their own and put a roof over their own heads and their own food in the fridge.
I knew there were many reasons why they wouldn’t, or couldn’t, take that step, financial or employment difficulties being just the start, but when I received the keys to my first rental house I treated them like they were the keys to a shrine and took impish pride in the fact that while I may be eternally broke and living on baked beans and toast, to the disgust of my housemates, I was at least providing for myself.
But now, eight years and a few houses later, I am back living with my parents after stepping off a plane broke, jobless and homeless. I was welcomed back into the fold with open arms for what was definitely going to be a short stay ‘until I got back on my feet’.
Then I made a wonderful discovery that had somehow escaped my notice during my moody teenage years. In this magical house of wonders there are always clean sheets on the bed and a fridge that magically keeps re-filling. Meals appear on the table, and even though I try to resist, my dirty clothes have developed a tendency to disappear from my room and return stain and smell free. But best of all there’s always a cup of tea ready to be made and someone to drink it with. It’s complete bliss.
But as the days keep flowing by and I’ve found my feet and even a new house to move into I’ve discovered I’m actually resisting leaving the parental home, my independence be damned!
There’s a comfort here and a welcome lack of responsibility. My time may still be my own but it is nice to be looked after.
But every time I look in my bag those keys continue to glint at me, giving me a not so subtle hint that it is time for me to move on, man up and shoulder my own responsibilities again.
Just after I finish this cup of tea.
Kylie is a former APN journalist who thinks life is best served with a glass of wine and plenty of laughs. You can read more of her ramblings here.
At what point do you think kids should up and leave the family house? When did you move out of home? Was it your decision – or your parents?