Since my son left for college a month ago, one of the biggest challenges has been adjusting to having three people at home instead of four — something that I haven’t experienced in almost 17 years. Four was such a good even number, and now we’re cooking for three or making reservations for three, and we’re down to three people to clean the same amount of space. (Damn. My son really was a perfectionist with the vacuum cleaner.) And then there’s the change in the relationship with my daughter. She is now getting a taste of what it’s like to be an only child after years of having her older brother as a sidekick.
My daughter has handled this sudden transition much better than I have. She’s busy with AP chemistry and history classes, rehearsals with her high school orchestra, movie nights with friends and dates with her boyfriend, and she’s away so often that it sometimes seems like I’m living in a two-person household again. Still, I know that the new normal sometimes gets to her as well.
The other night, when I was at a concert with a friend and my husband was at a city meeting, she texted to ask, “Will you be home soon?” Later she confessed that yes, she sometimes misses her brother’s loud music and his contagious (OK, to be truthful, she said “obnoxious”) laugh and that the conversations around the dinner table used to be much livelier.
On the plus side, we are now getting to know each other in ways that we didn’t before. She now feels free to tell me what’s on her mind without fear that her brother will overhear her or join in on the conversation. And in turn, when she has an issue that needs to be resolved (a rude girl at school or a teacher she doesn’t like), I tell her about similar things that happened to me as a teenager, and I’m noticing that she now actually listens instead of cringing or cutting me off.
We had a fun night, just the two of us, earlier this week, on an outing to pick out her homecoming dress for this weekend’s dance at the high school. After she’d decided on a classic little black number ala Grace Kelly, we went out to dinner and the good times continued. We toasted each other with tall glasses of peach lemonade and she told me, “I like this. It’s fun. I’ve had a good day.”
As any mother of a teenager will tell you, it was the ultimate compliment. 😉💕