Sunday, April 8, 2018

Leaving home

Younger Nephew & his fiancee cleaned out his closet this weekend, and took most of his clothes & other stuff over to their new apartment, where they'll be living after their upcoming wedding & honeymoon.

Apparently SIL got quite verklempt watching them do this (much to the amusement of BIL, who told us about it).

Fiancee told SIL not to worry -- her mother did the same thing when she cleaned out HER closet.

Are they moving overseas? Across the country? Across the province? Across the city, even?? Nope. Try DOWNSTAIRS, to Fiancee's parents' basement. (Their house is 3 km = less than 2 miles/a 5-minute drive, from BIL's.) (BIL's basement is already occupied by Older Nephew and his wife.)

These are not kids (even though they'll always be kids to us, of course...), but -- even though they are both 25 years old (soon to be 26 -- Older Nephew is 29 & his wife is also 25) -- neither of them have ever lived away from him home before. It's partly a cultural (Italian) thing -- dh was the only cousin of his generation on both sides of his family to go away to school (and grad school, at that);  all of his cousins lived at home until they were married (and sometimes afterwards), and having aging parents & other relatives living with you was the norm when he was growing up and his extended family members were trying to establish themselves in this country.

It's partly because there are plenty of excellent universities and community colleges hereabouts, and so dh & his cousins (and Younger Nephew & his fiancee) were lucky enough to be able to live at home while they completed their degrees, established careers and saved money for the future.

It's also financially practical -- even necessary.  Housing, both for sale and for rent, is ridiculously expensive hereabouts, even if both you and your spouse/partner both have good, well-paying jobs.

I think about me & my younger sister, who -- like all of us who grew up in small rural towns -- had no choice but to leave home if we wanted to continue our education. We both lived in residence while we went to university, and mostly in apartments with each other or other roommates in the summers in between.  I lived at home that summer between first and second-year university (when my sister was finishing high school), but my dad got transferred and, in late August, we packed up the contents of our house into a moving van headed for storage. My mom (still not yet 40!) packed me & my sister into the car & moved us into our respective dorms, and was basically  a homeless empty nester for the next three months -- bouncing between staying in a motel with my dad & visiting my grandparents and other relatives -- while our house in the new town was finished being built.

My sister was still a week away from her 18th birthday when she got dropped off at university, and I know my mother has always felt guilty about that. But I don't ever remember my parents hanging around until the very last minute, or making teary goodbyes when they dropped us off at school, and I don't remember any similar scenes among my dorm mates either. It was a different time and a different mindset among both parents & kids. Most kids couldn't wait to get out on their own (even if we were secretly a little nervous about it), and parents, even if they felt a bit sentimental about letting their chicks leave the nest, seemed to accept the inevitable.  It was just the natural order of things, the way things were supposed to be.

I did return home to live with my parents for a year between the end of my graduate degree and my wedding. I lucked into a job at the local weekly newspaper and gained experience in my field while saving my money, planning my wedding, and racking up long distance phone bills to dh (no Internet in those days, kids! -- and long distance wasn't cheap, either!).  I have to admit, I didn't think too much about what happened next. The day after the wedding, we were at my parents' house, along with dh's father & brother & two cousins, and some of our other out-of-area guests, and I suddenly realized that, umm, oh yeah, I was leaving the next day on my honeymoon, & from there, we were flying directly to my new home city (1,000 miles away from my parents) to start my new married life -- so maybe I should pack a suitcase or two??

So instead of visiting with my guests, I spent the next hour or two frantically tossing clothes & wedding gifts into a couple of suitcases that FIL & BIL could take back with them, and then another one for me to take on my honeymoon. I'm usually pretty well-organized, and my wedding was meticulously planned (the minister told me I was the most organized bride she'd ever seen), but I really did drop the ball in this respect. ;)  My father did get choked up (which rarely happens) when the time came to say goodbye & return to our hotel room in the city, from which we were flying out in the morning. That hit me hard, and I cried halfway back to the hotel (an hour-long trip). I was 24 & dh was 28.

So, hearing about these two moms, whose kids are now older than I was when I got married (and years older than I was when I left home to go to school), getting all choked up because the offspring are moving a few BLOCKS/FEET away, left me feeling a bit bemused. As I said, different times, different generations of both parents & kids, different attitudes.

I suppose some might say I don't get it because I don't have kids of my own.

Or you might say it's just sour grapes (because I don't have kids of my own).

(You might be right there.)

Whatever the reason, it's just one more thing that clearly sets me apart from the current generation of the parenting majority...


  1. Loribeth, I love love love this post! I was 17 when I left home and flew to Bangkok. From there on my return, like you, I had to leave our small farm (near only a small town) to go to university, and apart from a couple of months before my wedding, I never lived at home again.

    Just a few weeks ago, I had my SIL talking about how she has told her son - who has just started university - that he must skype her or text her every day so she knows he's okay. He's in the same city as his sister and numerous cousins etc. She did the same with his sister, who told me she was embarrassed to tell friends that she had to skype every day with her mother. (She had to leave the country to escape her parents, and the son insisted he live in the hostels not, as his mother wanted, with his big sister.)

    I admit that I rolled my eyes (in my mind only, I hope), and commented on the fact that both she and I had left home/country in the days when we didn't make international phone calls (too expensive!) or have internet, and how it made us grow up quickly, and our mothers let us do it. "It was easier for them," she said, "because they didn't know what we were facing." Good grief. The lack of introspection.

    So yes, I would hardly be able to restrain my eye-rolling, or my hysterical laughter, if they got all upset because their kids moved downstairs (that is just crazy) or a few blocks in their mid-late 20s. I admire your restraint.

    PS. My SIL is Chinese-Malaysian, and your in-laws are Italian, so I would question whether it is the "current generation of the parenting majority ..." or just some of those we observe more often. My kiwi parent friends are not like this at all, and would, I think, indulge in eye-rolling along with you and me.

    1. I knew you would relate, Mali! ;) I did start laughing when they told us about nephew's future MIL being in tears... I couldn't help saying incredulously, "But they'll BE RIGHT THERE IN THE BASEMENT!!" I am guilty of being pretty sentimental myself, and I know, it's not MY kid, but that did seem a little ridiculous...! I think it is partly a cultural thing, but I've seen plenty of social media posts from non-Italian friends mourning over their kids heading off to college, so...??

  2. This is extremely interesting to me. Like you, I left home for school and moved home very briefly after graduation to save enough money to move out permenantly. The idea of living in my parents’ basement with a spouse was no where on the radar.

    But that’s also a different cultural mindset from friends who have Mediterranean cultural backgrounds. I’ve heard similar stories about cousins and siblings moving out of their rooms, never mind these friends who left their birth city all together.

    Recommend a bottle of Limencello for the grieving mothers. ;)

    1. Ha! Perhaps I will bring a bottle over to SIL. ;)

  3. I'm 100% Italian and lived at home with my parents until I got married. I made sure that my 50% Italian kids lived independently for a while. Especially my daughter, who lived on her own for several years before getting married. I will always have a small regret that I didn't experience that myself!

  4. I moved out on my own into the 2nd floor apartment of house my best friend and hubby just bought. I was 22. I was happy and my parents were happy to finally be empty nesters. I only lived about 5 miles away. BTW, my bf was 20 and her husband was 23 yo when the got married and bought the house off of her aunt.

  5. Your post made me smile!
    And I love Cristy's comment... yes, limoncello for the grieving mothers :)

  6. I think it's more of a different generation - My sister keeps visiting her kids at college. My BIL drove 4 hours, so my niece could meet their new puppy. That is NOT how our family operated! On the other hand, my mom did like to complain that no one ever called or hung out with her, so perhaps she was rethinking her strategy of making sure we were fully independent.

    Meanwhile, my husband is totally derisive of his family members who won't leave the town where they grew up. But, you know...50% Italian, and all the girls talk to their mother pretty much every day. Color me unsurprised.

    As I am totally unsentimental, I would poke fun at anyone being worked up because their kid was...a few blocks away. And you could not stop me from laughing at someone whose child was moving to the basement!