“Your parents raised you up to such a big age, and they still haven’t enjoyed the benefits of having you.” That’s what the mother of one of my husband John’s best friends said to him a few years back. By then, John was already over 30 by then (30 is an age where, according to the saying that comes from Confucian ideals, a man should stand on his own feet and earn a living) and still a graduate student — meaning, no job, no owned apartment and not much money — with no children.
“Didn’t you feel invalidated when she said that?” I asked John the other day.
Lame, loser, or just plain “oh Lord.” My American friends could have easily thought any one of these things — if not more — about me, all because my husband and I moved in with my grandmother.
That’s why I never just told people in America, “We’re moving in with Grandma,” but made it clear that this move came with an asterisk. She’s 89, she had a stroke some years ago, my grandfather passed away last year and she lives alone. We’re moving to China next year, once John finishes his internship — it just didn’t make sense to start a new household all over again, only to have to leave it all behind in an international move. Without this addendum, I felt certain we’d get branded as just another pathetic boomeranging couple leaching off of sweet little grandma.
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