Two young men


Single Mom Slice of Life:
The Wonderful Bond Between Brothers

When you raise two kids, side by side for 19 years, it is stunning what you learn when one of them moves away from home. The focus, split for so many years between both boys, suddenly zoomed into a single beam of attention. I’ll admit, I was worried. Justin had been in Nick’s shadow for so long, how would Justin change when he became (for lack of a better phrase) an only child?

I didn’t want to suffocate him. It’s like when you come from a big family, then suddenly have to learn how to cook for only one instead of nine. On the other side of the same token, I didn’t want to pull so far away in an effort not to suffocate him that I ended up isolating him. I needed to find a happy medium. It turns out, though they were valid concerns, weren’t my real obstacles.

Related: 10 From GEM: 10 Subtle Signs That You Might Be A Helicopter Parent

In the two weeks Nick has been away at school, I have learned a lot about my youngest son. As a surprise bonus, I also learned a lot about the real relationship he has with his older brother. Here are just a few of those changes…

**He talks. Non-stop. A lot more than I gave him credit for in the past. He doesn’t just talk about school, and pranks, and video games… he talks about life, money, dreams and goals.

**He argues. Not belligerently, mind you, but well thought out arguments that often are silenced only after the reminder that when I ask him to do something, I’m not really asking. (Which, by the way, usually leads to more arguing.)

**He’s messy. Not as messy as Nick, which I think is how he managed to fly under the radar all these years, but when I am the one that has to wake him up, I realize, the clothes I asked him to put away have actually become a second mattress of sorts.

**He eats. A ton. Though, in his defense, he doesn’t clean out the fridge, it is still rather disconcerting to come home to a pile of empty soup cans and banana peels and still get asked, “so… when’s dinner going to be ready?”

**He misses his brother. He’ll never admit it out loud, or in public, or in any way that can be proven, but he does ask if Nick will be coming home on the weekends. He stays away from Nick’s favorite foods so that they’re there for him when his older brother DOES come home. Monday through Thursday he is all but begging to go to his friend’s houses. Friday through Sunday though, he is never more than a bedroom away from his big brother.

Related: Our Story Begins: Stop Trying for Perfection!

And when his brother is home from school…

**THEY talk: about school, about what life is like in a dorm setting, about how chores are different there than at home.

**THEY don’t argue: well not really, anyway. In a surprise turn of events, they used to fight over who opened the fridge first, and now, their arguments are about how long Nick can stay at home before he goes back to school.

**THEY are messy: enough said. I didn’t really expect that to change much.

**THEY eat: together, each meal, as though they refuse to miss that time with one another.

I’ll admit – I was a bit surprised. Their love/hate relationship seems to have matured as much as Nick has since he’s moved away from home. It’s a pleasant surprise, one I’m beyond grateful for since not that long ago, I was telling Nick that the person he had become was not a person that was welcome in my home.

I’m seeing Nick as the man he is trying so hard to become. (And, thanks to this whole texting fad, I have proof that he is grateful for me… but that’s a story for another day.) I’m also seeing Justin as the teenager I worried he’d become.

What about you? When an older child moved away from home, how did the younger ones act or react? How did you deal with the sudden shift in energy?