Gabriella Lanzi was working with the Peace Corps in Morocco. McKayle Carter was on a Fulbright Scholarship teaching English in Germany.
When the COVID-19 outbreak struck, the young adults had a new adventure awaiting them: moving back in with their parents.
Carter, 23, considered the positives of the situation during a recent phone interview with Ogden Newspapers, and as she began to spout off her list, her mom, DeAnn Roesner, said in a half-sarcastic, half-relieved tone, “You can find some?”
The mother-daughter duo laughed.
Many young adults have moved back in with their parents during quarantine, offering a unique situation for family units to bond as adults. Movie nights can now be paired with wine instead of juice. Homes may have to be split into designated work zones for different members of the family. There are increased opportunities for game nights or walks.
Ogden Newspapers spoke to two young adults — and their mothers — about the challenges and benefits of the situation. For Gabriella and Carter, who moved back in with their families in Brighton and Alpena, Michigan, respectively, it is comforting to be with their families during this pandemic, but it’s hard not to feel like younger versions of themselves.
“When I was in Morocco, I was very independent, because you have to be,” Gabriella, 24, said. “This is the polar opposite.”
Gabriella generally doesn’t need to cook for herself now, whereas in Morocco, she was in charge of her own meals. She didn’t have many possessions or clothes in Morocco, and now has to borrow clothes from her mom and sister. She said she also now has to lean on her family financially.
The peak of Gabriella’s service in Morocco was set to happen right as she was forced to leave, before Ramadan, and the unresolved work has her feeling “grumpy,” she said.
“I feel her grief and her frustration and her anxiety,” said her mom, Michelle Lanzi.
Just as her daughter feels a sort of reversion to her younger self, Michelle said she feels more of a responsibility to ensure everyone’s mental well being is healthy, now that her two daughters are under her roof once again, putting added pressure on her.
Michelle and her husband, Greg Lanzi, were empty nesters after they sent their younger daughter, Sophie Lanzi, off to college in the fall. Now, all of a sudden, everyone is back home at the same time.
“In the beginning, Rella was like, ‘Thank goodness we have three stories to our house,’” Michelle said of her other daughter. “Now that [quarantine has] kind of gone on, I think the house is shrinking in our minds.”
For Carter, she said she’s excited that her mom and step dad’s home in Alpena is right on Lake Huron, allowing for opportunities to get outside and not have to worry so much about social distancing.
“There’s not really anyone except for geese and deer to worry about,” she said.
But their lake house isn’t huge, Roesner said, noting that they downsized when they moved to Michigan to retire. Their current house has two bedrooms.
“One bathroom,” Carter added.
Despite the cabin fever-like complaints, Carter and Gabriella aren’t blind to the privileges of their situation. Gabriella said there were many other Peace Corps members who were not so lucky to be able to return to the home of their parents during the pandemic, and Carter is appreciative of all the luxuries that come with her parents’ house, like a dishwasher and home cooked meals.
Both moms expressed the uniqueness of the situation and the positives it brings.
For instance, because Roesner is retired, she said it’s nice that she can hang out with Carter and do workouts or take walks together in the middle of the day. On Friday evenings, the family has “date nights,” where they order out food from a restaurant.
“I know that as life continues, we probably won’t have anything like this again,” Roesner said.
Michelle has been taking pictures every day, creating a photo journal to document this time, which she called a “gift.”
“I don’t think that many people have the opportunity to hang out with their children once they are at this point in their lives,” she said.
The family enjoys playing dominoes together and going on walks on trails.
Carter and Gabriella said it can be difficult to find alone time. If one person decides to walk the dog, Gabriella said, it becomes a family affair.
Michelle said she has to actively remind herself that it’s really four adults living under her house now — not the two adults and two kids situation to which she was accustomed, she said.
Carter said it can be hard not to compare herself with peers who are living independently during the pandemic, but she sees the pros and cons of both their situation and hers.
“Truly, I do see this as probably the last time in my life — hopefully — that this will happen,” Carter said about moving back in with her parents.
“I do think that I will be moving on within the next year,” she added. “I am trying to focus on really cherishing this time.”