As I prepare to move out of my parent’s house for the first time since college, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the things i’ve learned while living with them. Hope you enjoy!
I’m dreaming. Running up the spiral staircase of an old castle towards a girl in a red dress. As I climb the last step and move towards her,
*Knock, Knock* A door opens.
“Abhi, wake up it’s already 12 o’ clock” says the blurry figure of my father at the door. I can’t see him without my glasses so I grunt some acceptance of my waking fate and sit up quickly in bed. How is it noon already? I fumble for my glasses, put them on. I reach for my phone, check the time.
Damn trick gets me every time.
When you’ve lived with your parents for 24 years, you get annoyed by some things. Sometimes your mom calls you five times a day to check when, how, and what you’ve eaten. Your pop always has one more chore for you to do when you feel like you’ve helped out enough for the day. And perhaps most annoying is the dreaded commute from the suburbs – you don’t expect to deal with that until you have a minivan and two kids. There’s also the stigma in Western society of living with your parents. Most people get a mental image of you sitting in your parent’s basement, playing video games and eating microwaved cheese.
Still, maybe all the above is a small price to pay for the real benefit of living at home. Some of you are probably thinking FREE RENT! No, not that (though it is pretty awesome). Having chosen to live at home after graduation, I’ve had the privilege of learning much from my parents. I’ve seen how a happy marriage works, I’ve understood my parents as individuals and not just parents, and I’ve witnessed how selfless they are with taking care of our family in India. In a nutshell, I’ve been able to work on developing two traits our entire generation needs to work on: gratitude and selflessness. I still have a lot of work to do on both, but this is what I’ve learned so far.
These days, when people my age talk about the future, I hear a lot of “I’s”. I’m hoping to get the promotion in July and then I’ll propose. I’m applying to residencies and I’ll be going abroad. I, I, I. And it’s not our fault either. Since we were young, most of the people I know have been raised with the pressure of the next step. Study hard now so you can go to a good college. Do well in college so you can get a great job. Get promoted quickly so you can reach a good position. We’re climbing and climbing this ladder, and no one thinks to get off midway to wait for his/her parents to catch up.
When I find myself spiraling into this “I” mentality, I think of my friend Parth. Since graduating from UT, Parth went home to Kansas City, leaving behind the huge social circle he developed in Texas. Why? So he could live at home and take care of the family business. When I call Parth to keep in touch and ask about what’s new in life, he does something different than the rest of us. He talks in a “we” mentality. He tells me how he’s managing the business together with his parents, and how the degree he’s working on now will help the family. When I complain about my long commute to work, I think about how Parth is happy to commute to school if it means staying at home. By listening to Parth and by living with my parents, I’ve learned a bit about selflessness. Some days, selflessness is planning your day, week, or month with family in mind. Other days, it’s just taking the time to bring back groceries, or taking your parents somewhere new for dinner. My parents will be the first to tell you that I haven’t mastered this yet, and I won’t argue that, but each day spent at home is a chance to improve.
Gratitude comes hand in hand with selflessness. When you’re willing to sacrifice your time for the people around you, you’re not taking them for granted. Living with my parents has taught me to understand them as individuals – people with their own desires, fears, and mistakes. Sometimes we learn a lot from each other, and sometimes we just make each other laugh. To show them I care, I want to show them the world, even if it means dealing with my mom’s constant nagging about walking everywhere. When I travel with my parents, I understand them even better – how do they interact with people they can’t understand, what activities they enjoy, etc. It lets me open up a world for them that they hadn’t explored before, because they were too busy taking care of me. That time they sacrificed for me – that’s a favor i’ll spend a lifetime repaying (and yet how do you ever really repay someone who cleaned your diapers?)
If I want to know how to make time for others, my friend Parker is the best example. [If you want to understand Parker’s views too, check out his recently published blog post on a similar topic – totally unplanned!: Parker’s Blog] Recently, he went on a trip with his 90-year old grandpa, and surprised him by reuniting him with a fellow WWII veteran that fought alongside him. Wow. How many of us who are fortunate enough to have living grandparents have taken the time to truly make them happy? I’d bet very few. If we see our families only as caretakers, then we just take and take. If we stop and try to give, try to learn –then we’re truly being grateful.
These days when my Pop gets me with the 12 o’ clock trick, I get up, I get angry, and then I can’t help but smile. Living with your parents definitely has its small annoyances, but I’ve learned some big lessons in how to improve myself. When you live with your parents, you prepare for a life spent thinking of others beyond just yourself. I’d say that’s the best kind of life to live.