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There is a certain and unmistakable tone of voice that The Mom uses when she is both pleased as punch and pretending to be put out about something. It was this particular tone of voice that greeted me when last we spoke.

“Well,” she said. “It looks like L’il Sis will be moving back in again.”

I already knew this, as L’il Sis had messaged me earlier in the week. Only a fool would elect to move back home again without first making relevant enquiries from someone who’d already lived through it. You know the saying, better the devil you know? Exactly. And as I’d spent a year and a half at The Mom’s as an adult, I suppose L’il Sis thought it prudent to understand fully what she was about to get herself into. Especially since she wasn’t moving under duress, but rather as a means to an end.

“Go on,” I said to The Mom.

“I don’t know where she’s going to put everything,” The Mom lamented.

The Mom currently occupies a four bedroom house. Though she does share it with a fair bit of our stuff, I know for a fact that there is space enough for two people to live there, even if one of those people comes with enough furnishings for a small one bedroom apartment.

“Basement?” I suggested, knowing exactly the reply I was about to get.

“Ha! You haven’t seen the basement recently. It’s full. Briming. Chock-a-block with your sh*t, Crazy D’s stuff, Grammy’s stuff and most of L’il Sis’ stuff which was jetissoned the last time she moved.”

I have, in fact, seen the basement recently as I check on it every time I go home to visit. And the stuff I have there is now severely diminished in size. When I moved away, nearly ten years ago, for the first time, there was certainly a case to be made for my belongings taking up a lot of space. But in the intervening years, that stuff has been picked through, borrowed, lent out and given away so that now it’s just several boxes of books that everybody in town knows better than to touch. So it’s not my stuff that’s taking up all the space.

Never mind the fact that each spring I get a chirpy email with follow-up phone call bragging about how much stuff she’s got rid of in the annual neighbourhood garage sale.

“Have you talked about the kitchen?” I asked.

I must admit, I asked this question just to wind The Mom up. The Mom and L’il Sis have very different ways of operating in the kitchen and very different eating habits. When I lived with The Mom, it was, in some ways, perhaps a bit easier. I don’t enjoy cooking on a day-to-day basis and resigned myself to eating whatever was put in front of me. And since I was in the midst of a nasty Crohn’s flare, eating wasn’t something I was planning on doing with any regularity. L’il sis, however, loves cooking and is vegetarian. And she doesn’t eat as early as The Mom. And she doesn’t think – shockingly – that popcorn and ice cream are reasonable as dinner choices.

“I’ll be up to my eyes in tofu!” The Mom retorted.

Which I think is a good thing.

When one moves home with The Mom as an adult, it is one’s duty to broaden her horizons, force her out of her hard and fast habits and routines. It is a service one provides as the adult child. I taught The Mom that one’s private space is a good thing, I also taught her that when someone says, “I do not want to talk about it,” it is a phrase one should respect.

So now L’il Sis will, I hope, teach The Mom, that though one is living on one’s own, that it is still important to cook and eat a proper meal. And that popcorn is not a vegetable.