Love Covers a Multitude of…

I’m lucky that my parents really like my husband.

My dad’s a bit of a misanthrope in general and says the only people he wants to spend time with are me, my mom, and my husband. I’m glad my husband is included in that. They get along really well. My dad respects how intelligent and highly educated my husband is. It doesn’t seem to bother my dad that my husband’s career has stalled.

In my dad’s eyes, it’s like my husband can do no wrong. My husband is a good driver, but one day last week my parents’ car was parked way too close and he accidentally scraped the side of it when he was backing out of the driveway. My dad was outside at the time and he barely reacted when it happened. When he did eventually look at it, he said, “It’s no big deal; it’s just paint. I can fix that.”

I have a good relationship with my dad, but I think he would have reacted more strongly if I had been the one to scrape the paint off the car. And my mom would have flipped out, yelling and berating me! When she later found out what my husband had done, she was concerned, but not angry.

It’s really quite remarkable how tolerant they are of my husband. It does not seem typical of the average in-law relationship. I am grateful for it.

Settled

I guess you could say we’re settled in here in my parents’ basement. Thanks to friends of ours, my husband found a job in town last October and has been working there ever since, but it’s not a career-level job and it doesn’t pay enough for us to move out. It wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have huge minimum payments to make on our debts every month. I’ve wondered if maybe we should declare bankruptcy or something, but that seems dishonest to me, as we are able to make the payments… we’re just not able to do much else.

My kitchen remains unusable, and that’s been a constant frustration, but the renovations are finally getting close to completion now. My parents have given me creative control, within budgetary constraints, and I’ve gone for a Scandinavian-inspired look. It’s been fun picking paint and backsplash tile and light fixtures. I like the way it’s coming together.

Unfortunately, with having to use the kitchen upstairs in the meantime, my mom and I argue a lot. We do not coexist well sharing kitchen space. And my parents always have the TV news on at dinner time, and then we all bicker about politics and current events. I need to try to keep my mouth shut, because no good comes from speaking my mind here, but I can’t control myself. I’m very left wing and my mom is very right wing, and she rants about gays and immigrants and I can’t stand it. It’s so very upsetting and disheartening listening to her voicing her lack of compassion and empathy. At least that’s how it comes across to me. But then, I’m one of those “bleeding heart liberals” I guess.

I so need my own kitchen. It’s taken months but it’s so close to completion. Things are about to get a lot better.

This Basement Suite, Paint, and Town

I have to admit I really like this basement suite. We have more space here than we had in our city apartment. There are a lot of little things that are making me happy here, like good water pressure in the shower, a nice view out the windows, and the ability to do laundry whenever I want for free. And even though we’re in a rural area, we’re right across the road from a country store, so it doesn’t feel as isolated as I thought it would. We’re also very close to the highway, so I can hear a lot of traffic noise. I know most people would think of that as a negative, but I have always found traffic noise soothing, so I love it.

Yesterday my parents took my husband into town for supplies, and my dad and husband decided they were going to buy paint right away for the living room, because that way they could paint it before bringing in all the living room furniture from the moving trailer. I stayed home because there was so much to do and because I still didn’t quite want to face town yet, due to all my bad memories there.

I texted back and forth extensively with my husband about paint colours. They wanted me to pick the colour, but I wasn’t mentally prepared for that just then, so in a bit of a panic I quickly started looking online at pictures of rooms with furniture similar to ours and trying to get a sense of what would work. I don’t have a great imagination, so I have to see something to know if I would like it or not. I texted my husband a picture of what I wanted, thinking the paint guy would be able to match it. Actually some friends I was chatting with online had advised me to do that, but apparently that was an unrealistic request and the paint guy wouldn’t do it. My dad and husband then abandoned the plan to buy paint immediately and came home with a number of paint chips for my perusal. They suggested I pick a colour and go back into town with them in the afternoon to purchase it.

I decided to suck it up and go. Town was okay. As well as buying paint we went for a walk through the town’s little mall. They have really done a lot with it since I was last here and it was very charming and aesthetically pleasing. I did see someone I used to know, but she showed no sign of recognizing me. That was comforting. Not that I ever had a problem with her personally, but it’s comforting to think maybe people from my past either won’t recognize me, or won’t care that I’m back.

We also went into the public library and I renewed my long-expired library card, as being able to borrow books is a huge priority for me wherever I live. I checked out a couple of books I’ve been wanting to read, and that made me happy.

So far being here is really not so bad. I felt really awful during the planning stage, but now that I’m here, I’m okay.

The paint colour I ended up choosing was a granite grey. My husband is painting as we speak.

 

 

Finding Work Here

Yesterday morning, I called the local government-funded employment office to make appointments for both me and my husband with an employment counselor. We’re not wasting any time on that. So that’s happening this coming Friday.

With my background in office admin, I probably have a better chance of finding a job than my husband does, since he is overqualified for just about everything, yet somehow not accomplished enough to land the very few jobs he should, in theory, actually be qualified for.

I think if I end up being the sole breadwinner we are both going to be deeply unhappy. This is not a matter of sexism; I don’t think the man has to be the breadwinner in a relationship. It has nothing to do with gender, it’s just the way our individual personalities are. He’s ambitious and enjoys working and being busy. I’m… let’s just say, none of the above. I will do what I have to do, of course. But I really hope he can find something or he is going to get really miserable, and I hate seeing him like that. And I would be far happier if I didn’t have the sole burden of keeping us afloat on my shoulders. I am really only qualified for low-paid work anyway and have never had a job in my life that paid enough to support both of us.

I do realize that we’re not in a position where we can be picky though. We’re in crisis mode here. If I’m the only one who finds work, low-paid or otherwise, I will have to suck it up and do what needs to be done.

Neither one of us being able to find work is unthinkable. We have been in that situation before and it was emotional rock-bottom for us.

I’m actually really hoping to get into some kind of government-funded retraining, if possible. To do what, I’m not even sure. I will need to find out on Friday what options might be available. But I don’t think office admin has been a good fit for me in the past.

We’re Here

My husband and I arrived at my parents’ house with all our belongings last night. I was going to title this post “We’re Home” but I couldn’t bring myself to acknowledge this as home. After all, it’s not like I grew up here. My parents only moved to this house a couple years ago and I have never even visited it before. And I really don’t want to settle in long term. We might have to, but it’s not what I want. So, we’re not home. We’re just… here.

This basement suite needs a lot of work but has potential. The kitchen is unusable at this point and has junk piled everywhere in it, but I’m assured this will soon be remedied.

There are a lot of folksy, craftsy decor items on the walls everywhere, but my mom says I can take them down and put my own stuff up. Thank goodness for that. “Folksy” is far from being a style I am comfortable with. I like sleek and modern decor.

My parents say that as we work to fix the place up, they will let me choose paint colours and things like that. I have never had the opportunity to do that before in my life. My husband and I have always rented and haven’t been allowed to make changes. It’s going to be fun to exercise my creativity. I think I’m going to be spending a lot of time on Pinterest to get ideas.

Ideally I would like a clean, white Scandinavian look, as that’s what looks most appealing to me, but I’ve never been able to make that happen. When you’re not rich, you don’t always end up with exactly what you want, not to mention that it’s hard to maintain a sleek white look when you have a longish-haired grey cat and you’re not a neat freak. So, my furniture is mostly brown leather and cream-coloured microfiber, with some black pieces. Since I’m not in a position to buy new things, unless something changes I will have to think of what will work with what I have.

Other than the unusable kitchen, there are a couple of other negatives. It is freakin’ cold in this basement! There’s a gas heater in the kitchen area, but my parents don’t have it hooked up yet. There’s a baseboard heater in the living room that doesn’t seem to get very warm, and a small portable heater in the bedroom that blew a breaker when we tried to use it. It didn’t even get that cold outside overnight, so I can only imagine how much colder it will feel in here in the winter when it’s freezing outside unless something is done about it in the meantime. It’s quite a contrast to our city apartment, where it was always far hotter than we wanted it to be. Even in the winter I’d be sitting around in a tank top and a skirt. I actually kind of missed wearing sweaters at home, so I guess I can make up for that now.

The other issue is the smell. My parents’ houses have always had a very distinct odor. They have always blamed it on various things but the smell follows them wherever they go so I think it’s just them. You’d think I’d get used to it, especially having grown up with them, but I never have, and it’s especially bad when I come back after being away for a long time like this. I’m finding it really hard to bear.

I know that beggars can’t be choosers though, so I am trying to be grateful for the place to live in spite of these issues.

I do think I can make this space work for us.

 

Assumptions

I’m worried about the assumptions people will make about us once they find out we’ve moved in with my parents. There are certain people I know who are very judgmental and critical about this kind of thing, and I dread having to face them once this all becomes a reality.

I was watching a documentary on CBC’s website called Generation Boomerang about adults living with their parents. Of course, most of the “boomerangers” portrayed in the documentary were much younger than my husband and I are, so even if it’s becoming common for their generation, I still don’t think it is for ours. But that concern aside, I noted that most of the young adults seemed to want to live with their parents, and in some cases the parents were still cooking and cleaning for them. That will not be the case for me and my husband and I hope no one will assume it is.

I have been cooking my own meals and doing my own laundry since I was 14 years old. Those chores were exclusively all mine. And on an emotional level, I very much want to be independent. I moved out when I was 18 and assumed I could make it on my own. I wanted that more than anything.

I also hope no one thinks we’re just lazy. While I will admit to having certain health challenges that have thwarted me when it comes to holding long-term employment, my husband is very healthy, capable, ambitious and hard-working. He has two master’s degrees and a PhD, and very much wants to work at having a successful career or at the very least an ordinary job. Despite what some people might assume, he does not think that so-called “menial” jobs are beneath him because of his level of education. He is willing to do almost anything. It’s just a matter of convincing an employer to give him a chance, which seems like an insurmountable obstacle.

So far he has only been able to land low-paid, short-term contracts, and we have had to move around a lot to go wherever the work is, but he always gives his all to whatever he’s doing and works very hard at it. He wants a permanent, full-time job more than anything. He applies for everything he’s even remotely qualified for and many things he’s far overqualified for. But right now, despite his best efforts, he’s between jobs. The last time this happened, it was over two years before he landed another one.

He actually deeply regrets getting a PhD. There are a lot more PhD’s out there than there are jobs for them. The article The disposable academic: Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time from The Economist is a few years old already, but does a good job of explaining the state of the academic job market.

My husband says if he could go back in time he would learn a trade like plumbing. He can’t start over doing that now, because we can’t afford retraining and we’re already so deeply in debt I don’t think he would be able to get (nor would be it wise to accept) a student loan.

I worry about the questions people will ask us, and worry that we’ll be put into a position of having to explain and defend ourselves. And I don’t really know what to say. I’m not even really sure why we’ve ended up in this situation, while other people our age have already secured a stable life and home for themselves. We don’t think it’s okay. We don’t want this. We tried to avoid it, we have no real defense for it, and we will try to relaunch ourselves as soon as humanly possible. But this is just the way it is right now.

They Say It Will Be Okay

My parents seem pretty happy that we might be moving back in with them. And my husband doesn’t even mind it as much as I do. He gets along really well with my parents and they really like and respect him. I’m the only one who feels like my life is over.

They are all assuring me it will be okay. For one thing, the house they currently live in, which I’ve never even visited because they just bought it a couple years ago and I live a long way away, actually has a basement suite. So we won’t actually be sharing space. My mom will only need to come down there to do her and my dad’s laundry. I am glad there’s a suite, because it seems like every argument I’ve ever had with my mom in my adult life has started in the kitchen. We do not share a kitchen well. Since we won’t have to this time around, the possible tension is minimized.

My husband also has ideas about ways he can make a living there, doing freelance tutoring and editing. He wouldn’t make enough at that to allow us to stay here in the big city, but if we don’t have rent to pay on a city apartment, it might at least be enough to cover our groceries and whatnot. We loathe the thought of being a financial drain on my parents and we will do our best not to let it come to that.

My parents even suggested that maybe if my husband helps my dad out with completing some renos on the house, they can sell it for at least a $50 000 profit and then we can all move somewhere else. Due to my personal history there, as far as I’m concerned almost anywhere else would be more bearable, so the thought that we might not be stuck there long-term is comforting. And my parents don’t mind. They are retired (but still very healthy, youthful and active) and have moved around a lot in their life, so they don’t really care that much where they live. I’m the one who has all these strong opinions and feelings about it.

So maybe it will be better than I’ve been envisioning. I think the main thing that bothers me is the shame of it. I won’t even want to admit to people that I’m living with my parents. I’ve read in the news that it’s quite common for Millennials to live with their parents, but we’re not Millennials, we’re GenX-ers. We should have our shit together by now.

 

A Terrible Idea

It’s not like we think this is a good idea.

It’s a terrible idea. We don’t expect it to go well. But we might reach a point where it is the only option.

Unless a miracle occurs within the next few weeks, my husband and I will be moving in with my parents. This entails moving from a big city to a rural area outside a small town two provinces away. It’s not where I grew up; I would be thrilled if I were moving back to my hometown, but my parents no longer live there.

I did live in this rural area with my parents as a young single adult, however, and I hated it. I never quite fit in there. A lot of that is my fault; I am socially awkward and was particularly immature and clueless during the time I lived there (my other blog is called Maybe Autism Explains It All, and in it I explore the possibility that I might have high-functioning autism or what used to be called Asperger’s Syndrome). But I find it easier to cope in a big city, even with my deficits. In a small town that is cliquish, gossipy, and ultra-conservative, anyone who’s different sticks out like a sore thumb.

On top of this, we don’t believe adult children should sponge off their parents. We believe in being independent. It is one of our strongest values. But with us both unemployed and unable to find work, I’m not sure what else to do. We cannot afford to stay here. And my parents are welcoming us with open arms. My mom has been praying for years that we would move back there. Not necessarily into their house, but at least back to their province.

What really scares me about all this, though, is that in the past I’ve found that once I’m there, it’s really hard to get out. There are opportunities in the cities, but not there, and if we can’t even make a go of it while we are here in the city supposedly surrounded by opportunity, I don’t know how we’ll relaunch ourselves once we’re stuck out there in the sticks. When I lived there as a single, I couldn’t even find anyone to date. At all. And it’s not that I was undatable, as I had no problem finding guys to date in other places and on the internet, once that became a thing. But locally? Forget it.

So if we go, I don’t know when or if we’ll be getting out. It will feel like giving up. I will feel like my life is over. But what can we do? All our efforts have failed. We have lost the game of life. I suppose I should be thinking about how to make the best of it, but right now all I want to do when I get there is go to bed, pull the covers up over my head, and never get up again.