One leaves the nest

This past weekend, one of our 22 1/2 year old twin sons left home to begin his independent life in Montreal. And with his departure, the first rearrangement of our family: we're no longer under the same roof.

Some of you know the bittersweet moment.

He spent the last three days in a whirlwind of packing punctuated by parties.
Then the ride's here, a quick round of hugs, and off.

The boy-to-man cave of his room is as layered as an archaeological dig: snowboard stickers on the desk, wallpaper sprayed with coke stains from a rambunctious sleepover. Little-kid papier-maché animals perched aside dusty karate belts.

We'll redecorate; soon it won't look like a kid's room. But in the present echoey emptiness, I recalled the murmur of bedtime stories, "bonne nuit, bonne nuit and a bumble bee" and a last kiss as the light was turned off. Thumps of bed forts, blare of Green Day, chirp of his phone. See his four
year old feet sticking out from his duvet, nails painted black thanks to an indulgent sitter.

I miss him–though don't want him to miss
us and cope by eating carrot cake in the middle of the day. I love that he took all his books and bookshelves with him.

Off he goes into the world, his world, as suffused with excitement as the photo I have of his first solo trip up the stairs, at just over one year. Two days ago he and his boxes went down those stairs, with the same enthusiasm.

The first thing he and his mates did in his new town is treat themselves to a late night dinner at Au Pied de Cochon, "PDC" to them.

Bonne chance, Etienne!


Genuine Lustre said…
Yes, yes, I know those feelings. Happiness to see them happy and independent ( that was our goal, after all), but sadness that time is marching on and wondering if we made best use of the time.
Anonymous said…
Bienvenue à Montréal Etienne!

My son made the trek in the opposite direction, Montreal à Toronto, some 10 yrs ago and has been a happy man since.

A short hop on a plane, car or train is all that was needed to ease the longing when mom's chocolate chips cookies were needed to fix anything and everything.

We both have grown since from his experience at being on his own. He found out he could and I found out I had done a good job of preparing him to do so.

Moms & sons quelle affaire eh?
Susan B said…
This must be such a bittersweet time for you. But a child's independence is the ultimate confirmation that you've done your job as a parent, and that must bring some satisfaction, I'd imagine.
APC! Quite the treat! Although their rather gargantual portions are probably better suited to a group of young men than most women middle-aged or older, it is certainly a gastronomic star here. (No, I've never eaten there - rather frightened of the portion sizes). He has good taste!

One benefit one gets upon turning 60 is the right to take a friend free of charge when taking a VIA train in Canada. Friend can be same age group or younger. It sounds strange, as if most people that age would possibly need a "travel helper" but it is a nice perk, if you can work out travel schedules with a friend or relative.

Madeleine soies et laines has a website now (impressive, as it is a small shop). It is in French; non-French speakers might want to click on "échantillons" (samples) for some of the interesting fabrics available: http:/

Other twin still at home?
Belle de Ville said…
How bittersweet for you and how exciting for him. Is his twin still at home?

My daughter who is 24, moved back in with me after living in Colorado for 2 years. I expect her to stay for at least another couple of years until she finishes school. After sending her to boarding school in Switzerland when she was 12, I'm happy to have this time with her now.
I know all too well the sounds of silence in the home after the children, now adults, depart. Success and independence for them and a job well done for us...still it is heart wrenching watching them go.
materfamilias said…
Yes, indeed, it's bittersweet, but you have the immense pleasure ahead of having your young ones come back and stay with you as adults. (which can also be the immense pleasure of realizing, when they leave again, that an empty nest is not so bad . . . )
And what a wonderful city to have a great excuse to visit!
mette said…
Bittersweet, yes. I ´m having the same feeling right now. My first born daughter ( 33 this year ) moved from home when she was 20. She has lived and still does in Helsinki, only some 40 minutes away. But she has spent a lot of time here with us, because of the horses I think. Now, suddenly ( at last ) she has a boyfriend, and she is very quiet about it all. We used to chat everyday, but not anymore. All her time is spent with her work and this friend of hers. Naturally this is how it goes, but I feel a bit sad, being left alone. Luckily I still have my younger one at home. She is not ready to leave the nest at the moment.
Duchesse said…
Mossback: Never dreamed it would slip by so fast.
Anonymous (in Mtl): That's reassuring, thanks!

Pseu: I hope that will come, it's still so new.

lagatta: I am SO onto that Via discount. Have also checked out the McGill residences. Other twin here but eyeing apt. with friend for spring. Thanks for fabric reference, must go.

Belle: I could have enjoyed skipping some of the teen stuff and getting an adult back for awhile. Twin here for just 2 more months, we think.

hostess: Do have that feeling of a job well done, which is a relief, thanks.

materfamilias: You have been an inspiration re this leaving matter and the joys of a quiet empty nest.

metscan: Each of our children, yours and mine, develops so differently! There is still ahead of me the separation of serious attachment. But there have been lots of not-so-serious ones to whom I became attached.
Duchesse, that particular McGill residence (Solin) was recently repurposed from a former factory (like so many loft condos in that area) so it is a place I'd recommend to solvent adults - unlike the residences on the main McGill campus which can be iffy and are mostly way up Mt-Royal.

The Université du Québec (UQAM) residences are also apartment-style and are rented a lot to tourists during the festival season, but are not as close to where your son lives. They are easily accessible to his area via métro though.

The more "romantic" places I know where you might want to stay if with Duc are more in the Plateau area, as that is closer to me, but I'm good at finding things.

À la tienne, Étienne!
Tiffany said…
Goodness, your post brought a tear to my eye. My son started high school this year, and suddenly the prospect of him leaving home seems terribly close. As everyone says - his independence is a tribute to you as a parent, but still ...
Anonymous said…
I too got a tear in my eye, reading your heartwarming post. My two are at university, still winging in and out, but I already dread the day that they will fly away for good.
Maravonda said…
I read my daughter's posts and little conversations on Facebook and am always proud and pleased at the witty, smart and independent woman she has become. I know that I did a good job and that I contributed something wonderful to the world in her. But sometimes...oh! how I miss holding that baby girl...
Duchesse said…
lagatta: I've found some very attractive short term apts. (3 nights) in the Plateau too.

tiffany: high school is a big leap, a significant change in itself.

Madeline: Winging in and out is a good transition- not such an abrupt departure.

Maravonda: Got my hands on a newborn the other month and could hardly let her go. Guess that's why grandparents go nuts!
Anonymous said…
What a beautiful piece on our son leaving home. Warm, sensitive, ever, Duchesse. Thank you.

Absence has already started to embellish my thoughts about him....I'm sure we will miss him more that we think. Some of the time.

Le Duc
I was cuddling my 7 year old son this morning, and thinking how much I love and cherish him, how that love for him which surprised me when he was born has grown over the years. I can only imagine what it will be like when he leaves home (which he currently insists will never happen, and bursts into tears when I suggest that one day he will move away from me).
Duchesse said…
Imogen: When he was five he asked me to make a wish as we threw pennies into a fountain; I wished he would stay 5 and live with me forever. Enjoy this time!

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