The truth about living with your middle-aged parents
If it’s not my mom rocking out to “The Final Countdown” by Europe, it’s my dad reminiscing about all the cartoons we used to watch. Shows like “Arthur” and “Dragon Tales” were mainstays in the Albers household. But my favorite was “Cyberchase,” an after-school program about a bunch of kids using math to traverse the cyberworld. It seems that, even as a kid, I was drawn to speculative elements in fiction.
The other night, I sang something that reminded Dad of the “Arthur” theme song … which reminded him of the “Teletubbies” theme song … which reminded him of the “Clifford” theme song. He spent the next 10 minutes asking my Google Home to play the theme song for everything from “Arthur” to “Cyberchase.” Unfortunately, my Spotify account now reflects his peculiar taste in music.
This is all part of living with middle-aged parents. The therapist in me recognizes that very few 27-year-olds geek out to cartoon soundtracks with their father-slash-best-friend. The writer in me thinks it’s quirky, like something from a romcom that would endear the love interest. The realist in me understands that it’s just the way things are. I can’t change it, and even if I could, I’m used to it by now.
Of course, nothing is that easy. I struggle with where I am in life, where I should be, and the difference between the two. I wish SMA didn’t affect my ability to be in the world. As much as I genuinely love my parents, I wish I wasn’t so reliant on them. I wish I could forge a new life for myself, like those who came before me. I dream of a downtown apartment within walking distance of my best friends and my favorite independent bookstore. Yet I’m stuck where I’ve always been, with the people I’ve lived with for as long as I can remember.
But it’s not all bad. I’m only lonely if I want to be. I don’t have to worry about putting food on the table or paying my medical bills. My life isn’t as glamorous as the ones you see on Instagram, but that’s OK, because it’s mine. I have all the love I could ever want. I even have access to things that most 27-year-olds wouldn’t even dream of!
Last week, I wrote about all the ways my family is preparing for my mom’s retirement — one of which is buying an RV. We’ve always loved traveling, but SMA complicates everything from transportation to lodging and activities.
The older I get, the more important it becomes for me to travel with ease. My partnership with Genentech requires yearly trips to the annual Cure SMA conference. Not to mention all the writing workshops I hope to attend in the not-so-distant future!
Most 27-year-olds wouldn’t be able to afford an RV, let alone a wheelchair-accessible truck to tow it. If it hadn’t been for my parents, I wouldn’t be able to, either. But that’s the magic of my strangely abnormal life. While there are many things off limits to me, certain aspects of my situation make room for the unexpected — like a fully accessible RV that allows me to pursue my personal and professional dreams.
In another life, I would be fully independent. That life is not this one. But at the end of the day, the life I have, the life I share with those most important to me — both the good and the bad, the frightful and the adventurous — is more than abundant for me, cartoon soundtracks and all.
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Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.
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