A Household Dynamic
It’s interesting to see the changing household dynamics. The picture there, blurry and hazy as it is, was the change in our household starting in August of last year. That, you see, was the month that their older sister, my oldest daughter left home for college.
Bear in mind, as maternal as my oldest daughter can act – and she’s very protective and loving of her siblings – she’s still their sister. I don’t say this at all to belittle what she does for them regularly. Her sister texts her all the time and asks her advice. She’s shown her how to do her hair and makeup far better than I ever could.
But then people always have a mistaken impression that my oldest daughter has taken on the role of Mom in the house. That’s certainly not the case. She was a big help, as are all the kids in the house. I absolutely complain and grump at them regularly about the fact that the dishes aren’t done or the house is a mess. But the reality is that we’ve hit a routine and that’s been because of the change.
Change, you see, has been the dynamic in our home for the last three years or more. The first was sparked by loss, certainly. Then we had to move, I changed jobs, I became the breadwinner and homemaker. I took it on sometimes grumpily but still took it on.
Then came the Fall . . . when yet another change came with the beginning of college and, let’s face it, adult life for their sister.
The five person household became more or less four . . . with the table always open for a fifth. The kids all started new schools in the public school system. They take the bus home. They call me the moment they get in the door, ask if they can have a snack (and the answer is always yes, with the caveat that it be something somewhat healthy) and then we do our evening routine.
In the Fall, first at Thanksgiving and then at Christmas, their sister came home and the calls were infrequent when they got home. It didn’t worry me, they were so thrilled to have their sister home they forgot and I knew it. I figured if something was wrong that same sister would call me and ask if I knew what happened.
But then came Spring. It’s not just a longer semester for college it’s also far longer between breaks. The boys hit a stride in the routine. Chores assigned for when they get home – and after homework – are actually completed. When my oldest came home for the summer meals are already planned, the shelves stocked with what we need . . . and the fridge with less unhealthy stuff. We’ve all gotten skinnier and we’ve all hit a different routine. That’s been an adjustment over the last few days.
Let’s face it, one more at a table of four isn’t a big change for me. It’s almost the same amount of food. But where the boys used to forget to call, even with their sister home they call me, let me know they made it home, take the bus, ask for snacks . . . all of it. This is the new routine and sometimes it’s hard to see that our home has moved in that direction. My oldest isn’t upset we have, she’s more than a little impressed.
We went for a run together and she realized we’re serious about how we do things. She’s heard me get up early and asked why . . . only to find out it’s the only time I have to exercise. I inform her it’s because I needed to and to set a good example. I had to tell her the main secret was simple – I really don’t like running or exercising. Particularly that early in the morning. But I do it because I need to and there’s a reason to do it – for all of us. I get healthier and the others see the example and they do, too.
The dynamic changed, just a little . . . but adding her back in is never an issue. Family, you see, is just that. You don’t choose it, you’re stuck with it. Luckily we enjoy being together and we know we’re stronger together than when we’re apart.