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The cut, the cut, cut, cut, cut, the cut. The cut. Hi, I'm Stella Bagby, editor at large for New York magazine, and I'm taking over the show this week to talk about something that a lot of people I know have been grappling with, having to go home and live with family.
My mom woke up. You have a mask on for myself? Yeah, I feel like I haven't gotten the bill yet, but I will, OK.
When I was twenty eight, I had just gotten married and I got pregnant with twins accidentally.
At the time, my husband and I were living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We had a cool apartment. We had no one to answer to.
We were having a lot of fun, but our apartment had a seven floor walkup and pretty quickly I could barely waddle up and down the stairs and I was told I needed to go on bed rest.
I was freaking out. I left my job.
I applied for disability, and we made a decision to do a thing that by a lot of people's standards equals defeat.
Move in with my parents.
It was a logical decision, but not one I ever expected to have to make. I figured it would just be a rest stop until we got through the pregnancy, till I could literally get back on my feet. That was 16 years ago, and I want to go home tonight and I want your grandma signature. Everybody, you want my beautiful buzz, the beautiful beautiful about a pumpkin pie just tastes good. It's true.
My parents took care of the kids when they weren't in pre-K and my husband and I went back to work. I worked at Condé Nast where the women were these incredibly powerful, successful transplants from other cities, and they were renovating their houses and they just seemed on their own, fully formed better than me.
And I felt like I couldn't tell anybody my secret, which was that I lived with my mom, I think I was afraid that if I said I lived with my mom, they might.
Feel I had to stay later or work harder because she was there taking care of my kids. I think ultimately, though, that I was just afraid of being seen as a failure. I saw a sign the other day was making fun of the proud boys, and it said, go back home to your mom's basement, which of course, the implication is that only losers live with their moms. But here's the thing. I like living with my mom a lot.
I know that for a lot of people, moving home isn't an option. Most people I speak to about it say they could never imagine living with their parents. I also know that a lot of people, including some StaffWriters, have moved on this year and are maybe feeling self-conscious about it.
But maybe there are people like me who will move home because they think it's temporary. And then, like I did realize, it can be a really powerful way to rethink how we live.
I can see out the window as a farmhouse where my parents live that Sarah Hannon Sarah lives on a farm in upstate New York where she grows flowers for her store in Brooklyn. Sarah and her mom have a soap business together, and this year her parents moved into the farm full time.
Mom. Are you going to be working here for a little bit? Yeah. Can you give me some privacy? Is it problematic? It's good, but it's not always easy because also a lot of Sarah's friends live on the farm with them, including one of her oldest and dearest friends, Claire. And sometimes things can get weird.
Sometimes I'm like, oh, where's Claire? You know, everyone's like getting together for dinner. And I'll realize that Claire is like having a private cocktail with my parents at their house. And, like, I haven't been invited happy outside.
Having older people around has a lot of benefits they bring with them to the farm.
A wealth of information. My mom, she is excellent at food safety and knows everything about how to can food. And usually we would be like scrambling on Google to find out how much citric acid to add to a quart of tomatoes like my mom just knows that stuff and is eyes on everything in that way. You know, my dad is the only one who knows how to use a chainsaw. So, like, he's the person to teach us or, you know, how to buy power tools at Home Depot or how to cut down trees in the woods when we need firewood, that kind of thing.
I don't know who would teach me that if he wasn't here. With the good comes the bad. And some of their issues go deep. Sarah and Susan have things that they need to work out from the past, like when Sarah's six year old nephew Finn stays at the farm. Her mom often takes care of him, and watching grandma and grandson together brings up a lot of pain for Sarah about things that she wishes she'd gotten as a child, what she referred to as mother wounds.
I want her to do that for me, watching her take care of it, like I want to be taken care of. Right. But it's.
And did she not take care of you enough as a child?
It'd be hard for me to say that I'll take. That that's OK, but is it because you're afraid of of her hearing it, is that the fear?
Yeah, I think that would be devastating for her. Because she did the best that she could. She was the breadwinner in our family and, you know, I grew up with a mother who was like. So strong and powerful and just I learned I just I was like, I can do whatever I want in the world because I had that role model in her. But. I potentially did not have as much. Into the cameras, as I perhaps wanted.
So it's really hard to see. You know. Or do that for a young child in front of me who I also cared about, obviously.
And do you think if you guys weren't living together that this stuff would have come up?
No, it wouldn't have. So do you feel like it was a net positive thing, even though it sounds like you're quite. Emotional about it in general. Yeah, I would choose it again. I mean, I think we only got. Really deep, good stuff when we choose the hard thing. You know, there's this notion that living with family is an easier choice or a fallback choice, but it's just a different choice. Has its own pros and cons and its own hard stuff, which all runs contrary to this American belief that there's something inherently better about being more ambitious and living far away from where you're from.
I almost like resent this white individualism that I fell prey to, I thought was that, you know, the golden standard. I almost feel like it's racist.
Per annum on Zucconi grew up outside of Chicago with her parents, her grandparents and her aunt. And sometimes there were as many as 12 family members living there.
I did leave the house at 18. I felt all this pride about it. I think that's like the American thing. Like I just wanted to be like all my peer is living in shitty apartments, lifting myself up by my bootstraps, all of that. And I did that.
It's just become like this cultural myth that you have to set off on your own to be successful. But in some ways, that's actually counterintuitive.
Leaving the home at 18 always felt like really strange to my parents because they're like, you know, we've worked so hard to give you these things. Why do you need to recreate that and make your life harder for yourself? We we come to this country, to Ellis, my family did, to stabilize economically, like there was so much, you know, with like the post-colonial fallout in India after nineteen forty seven, like a lot of families struggled to stabilize by moving out at 18, Perrineau was able to build up her career and have like a lot of amazing experiences.
But in hindsight, she could have had a lot more emotional and financial stability if she had just stayed at home living with her family into adulthood. She just didn't really see that as a choice she could make.
But now, at thirty two, as I like, and thinking about starting a family and thinking about buying a home, all of those things, I'm like, you know what? Living in a family structure is actually like a really healthy and positive way to keep wealth within the family. That's been so, so, so hard to accumulate. I feel a little bit of resentment towards the idea of leaving the home at 18 is like the only positive way to become a mature adult.
That's exactly how I felt once I realized how much easier it was to raise our kids in a multigenerational household. I felt like a fool for thinking that I had to prove something about some imagined independence that I needed to have. My parents had become a second set of parents. They helped with homework. They took the kids to the doctors appointments. They read books with them. My daughter even called my mom her other mom. Turns out that living with a lot of people helped me mature in a way that independence never offered me after the break how sharing a bathroom can make you a socialist.
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I was under the impression that almost everybody moves out of their parents house at age 18, but that's not the case, especially this year, according to Richard Fry. He's a senior researcher with the Pew Research Center.
April was the first time dating all the way back to nineteen hundred that more than 50 percent of 18 to 29 year olds were living with a parent.
More than half of young people are living with their parents. They can't all be losers. The number of young adults living at home is on par with the Great Depression.
Clearly, one of the benefits of it is, is when you pull your resources, you not only pool your earnings, but you also share certain expenses by living in one dwelling. You don't need multiple cable subscriptions. You don't need all the accoutrements that go into furnishing a household. Although I mean, you probably also have a lot less space to furnish.
You know, something, just living in a one bedroom apartment, the bathroom just gets very intimate. But this is Farris front for us. She lives in Crown Heights with her husband, Charles, and her parents. Everybody goes into the bathroom. And even like I remember one time my mom was taking a shower and she was like, oh, I got to pee.
And I'm like, I'm just not going to sit. And Charles is like, no, I'm like, OK, I guess you want to hold your feet because I'm going to go.
Fera and her husband live in the same one bedroom apartment that Farrah was raised in.
So after just about a year of living on my own, we moved back again. Now, I moved back with my husband.
This time her parents take the bedroom and she and her husband set up their own space in the living room between my mom, my self, my father, my whole family. There's not a moment of alone. So I think sometimes he wants to be alone, but it's not an option here. So he's adopted.
Farrah is a nurse. This year. She ran for state assembly and one all while campaigning from her crowded one bedroom. And sometimes with a phone banking that happened in the kitchen because, you know, that's where lighting lighting was better in the kitchen. So and that would also happen while my mom is cooking. So a lot of times, you know, you're on the call, you hear some pops banging in the background, living with so many people in one space helped her grow into the person and politician that she is.
You have to be flexible, learn to negotiate, think about how you take up space in the world. Do you think that's helped with your politics?
Oh, yes. Oh, yes. When I say that as a socialist, I prioritize the democratic process of how our systems work that comes from real life experience. If we didn't effectively communicate how we felt and our expectations, this system could not have worked. Our family could not have worked in a one bedroom apartment. And so we really, really worked hard at making sure that everyone voice was heard and respected, even if it wasn't to the benefit of another voice.
And living in that space, living and being part of my family just made me see, like as as a democracy, we need to make sure that everyone not only has a right, but has access to make sure that their needs are being addressed in the way that they want to be addressed.
I love this explanation. I had never explicitly considered that living with my family aligned with any political stance. I just know that it's good for my kids to live with their elders and learn to interact with people outside of their age circle. I mean, living at home can't be for losers when there's so, so much to be gained from it.
What would you say is the best thing about living of all of us together, watching the children grow up and being close to the people I love the most in the world? Is there any drawbacks? No, not a single one, because there has never been a drawback. It's been good since they were babies. Now they're almost 16. That's pretty good. I'm pretty lucky.
I recommend it highly to people. I have any other questions. No. OK, I'm just going to come get the vacuum cleaner.
This episode was produced by Nishat Koloa, production support from Neuromas was edited from Hanna Rosin, Alison Barrenger and David Shulman, mixed and scored by Brandon McFarland.
Bob Parker is our lead producer. Special thanks to Currency Guardedness, Sangeeta Singh Kurtz and Bridgette Reid. This show is made possible by the team at New York Magazine. Subscribe today to support their work. Cut the cut dotcom slash subscribe. I'm still above the average Fulman. We'll be back next week.