As I am packing for our trip to return to the east coast to pick up my oldest from the CTY program, I've been reflecting on how the last three weeks have been different. I've missed my son, of course. I miss his companionship, his opinions, his chatty commentary, his calm in the sometimes-storm of his brothers. Some of the things that drive me crazy about him are the things I miss.
However, I have appreciated the time with my middle and youngest sons too. Having one less child does mean you have a little more time for the others; to really listen, appreciate, and focus. I have three different opinions to deal with on every topic (mine and my two sons) instead of four. Decisions are easier, like what to have for lunch, what game to play, where to go on a bike ride. The wrestling is more fairly matched and somehow calmer, and there is less arguing and fighting with two instead of three. There is less laundry and a little less food packed into the refrigerator. When we go out to eat, we can sit at a regular table for four instead of waiting for rearranging tables or the one table to hold a larger party.
While we all miss my oldest and are looking forward to seeing him, I know in my heart that some part of both my younger boys will miss having that little extra helping of mom and dad. My middle son has enjoyed playing the role of oldest instead of middle. He has grown up a bit, separate from his best friend and brother for the first time. He sees himself in a new light, a more responsible and independent light, and so do I.
I knew this summer would be a time of big growth for my oldest. The fact that there has been such growth in my younger sons has surprised me though. It reminds me that a pack of three boys close together in age cannot be treated as a pack, they are three very distinct personalities and each have different needs. As they grow more independent, it is an opportunity to really spend some one-on-one time with each, the kind of time that has frankly been pretty rare in our family until this point.