It’s been a few weeks since my twins left for college and after that rough first week of missing them, the three of us—my youngest son, my husband, and myself—are slowly getting used to a “new normal.” Without my twins underfoot, the house is much quieter which is hard to take at times but it’s also much cleaner! Time has seemed to slow down, too, since I’m no longer running around accommodating the schedules of three busy boys. That part is a refreshing change. But grocery shopping is still a challenge—it’s hard to gauge how much milk and bread to buy, for instance—and so are washing the dishes and our clothes as it takes forever to accumulate a full load.
But I’m confident that it will all fall into place soon. The bigger issue at hand, however, is our family dynamics, and namely, how all our relationships are changing, evolving.
After my twins left, I quickly realized just how much of my time and energy was devoted to my kids, sometimes at the expense of my own well being and that of my marriage. So it’s been my mission of late to concentrate on taking care of myself (I’m hanging out with girlfriends more and getting more exercise) and nurturing my relationship with my husband. We have been spending more leisure time together having friends over and heading out to dinner by ourselves. And just last week, we hit a few estate sales, something we used to do frequently before we had kids. Yes, my marriage needs to be lovingly tended to, and I’m so happy to have my husband as a close companion, as it should be. Even my twins have each other for support as they transition to their new lives as college co-eds, but who does my youngest have? Who is his wing-man?
And that’s the
worry question of the week for me.
As tough as it’s been for my husband and me to adjust to our new semi-empty nest, it’s been equally difficult for our youngest. With only two years between them, my three sons have been very close, often socializing with each other on weekends. But I sense that my youngest is having a difficult time adjusting to this new family life without his brothers. Two of his buddies are gone. And being a boy—and a teenage boy at that—he’s not exactly forthcoming with his feelings.
I’m treading new parenting waters—I want to be sensitive to my youngest and his situation. I want to be there for him emotionally but at the same time I want to be careful not to treat him like a victim because he’s not. This is his life. He was born the youngest to twin brothers. Period. That position in the family has its advantages as well as its challenges. And right now, it’s a challenge! But I’m trying to be responsive to his needs. To that end, I’m trying a few new techniques to build better communication and ultimately a stronger family unit.
We are creating our own special traditions.
One of the benefits of having two kids fly the coop is there’s a bit more time and money to spend on the child that’s left at home. For instance, after church on Sunday evenings, we head to Blaze Pizza—his favorite—for an inexpensive dinner. It’s not my choice necessarily but it is his, and that’s what we are focusing on now.
I’m encouraging my twins to keep in touch…with their younger brother.
Although I’m trying to let my twins set the boundaries when it comes to communicating with us, their parents, I am encouraging them to keep in touch with their younger brother more often through social media. They have been great about sending regular Snapchats and texts to their brother. All three play Minecraft together online on weekends, too. I believe all this helps.
A mom I know who has the same family structure (older twin boys; younger singleton son) says that her twins even asked their friends who stayed at home to study at local community colleges to look in on their younger brother. “He loves it,” she told me. “The friends call or take my son out occasionally for ice cream or a movie.”
I check in with my single-born child regularly.
I love picking my son up after school. Our 20-minute car ride home is a chance for us to catch up on the day and “check in” with each other. He seems to be the most talkative right after school, too (it’s certainly not when he gets up in the morning), so I save my questions and concerns for the ride home.
We encourage him to go out on weekends with his friends.
We’ve talked with my youngest about making an effort to be more social and it’s working! (In the past, he would get a bit lazy as he always had his brothers to entertain him.) So when he wants me to drive him to the football game, I say, “no problem,” no matter how tired I am. If he wants his buddies to sleep over (again!) on Saturday night, I say, “sure!”
Building a strong social network is important for every child’s emotional well-being, whether you are a sibling to twins or not!